Five Impediments to Effective IMC
Some of you may remember a song by country artist Barbara Mandrell entitled, "I was country (when country wasn't cool)". When my wife and I founded our agency over 30 years ago, it was a marriage of her experience in public relations with my background from the creative side of advertising that became an early model for becoming an Integrated Marketing Communications (IMC) agency. Since the term wasn't coined until the late 80s, we sometimes make a silly little joke about "being an IMC agency (when IMC wasn't cool)". Of course, over the years, we've added a number of other marketing communications services to our IMC toolbox.
For anyone who may not be conversant with the term, a pretty good definition can be found on Wikipedia described in this way. "True IMC is the development of marketing strategies and creative campaigns that weave together multiple marketing disciplines (paid advertising, public relations, promotion, owned assets, and social media) that are selected and then executed to suit the particular goals of the brand."
Unfortunately, IMC often becomes like Mark Twain's quote about the weather. Everyone talks about it, but no one does anything about it. Few would argue the potential merits of IMC but all too often that potential is never fully developed. The major problem is that people get so involved in their own silos and tactics that the opportunities for optimizing the impact of integration can be overlooked. Here are five impediments to effective IMC - and some thoughts on how to address them.
- Lack of a strategic plan - In sports, it's hard to win without a game plan. The same is true in business. It's often easy and more stimulating to jump right into tactical executions, but it's seldom a formula for success.
- Failure to have all hands on deck - Once the game plan is ready, a team meeting is essential to get everyone focused on the objective and motivated to make it happen.
- Envisioning the end game - Knowing and defining success for the campaign is essential. It's more than stating objectives, it's knowing the desired outcome.
- Not enough time-outs - An effective IMC campaign needs regular checkpoints to monitor all aspects of the plan's execution and make adjustments as needed.
- Keeping track of stats - Winning is the ultimate goal, but how the game is played may be equally important. Having the right metrics in place to judge individual and collective performances can be a powerful tool for evaluating the current campaign and setting the stage for later efforts.
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