In the spirit of school starting soon, I figured I would walk you guys through a typical integrated marketing communications plan. IMC is huge in advertising, everything should connect and work together to get the desired audience think or do something.
The report always starts with an executive summary which tells you the need-to-know stuff from your plan. Write this last. Next is the situation analysis, this is a biggie, and usually where you start.
Begin with the internal factors; this includes the promotional capabilities, previous promotions, the brand image, and product or service strengths and weaknesses. These are all things the brand has control over which makes them internal. External factors are what the brand doesn’t have control over: customer behaviour analysis, competitor analysis, and environmental analysis. This includes a brief overview of sociocultural, political or legal, technological, and economic factors that are relevant to the brand and the objective of your IMC plan. Also, address the size of the market and potential growth, consumer trends, and the seasonality of the company. I know guys, this is riveting stuff right here. You can see why I’m excited to get back at it again in September.
I usually try to have fun with the next part because at least there’s a chart I can format to look nice and pretty: the SWOT. This stands for strengths, weaknesses (internal), opportunities, and threats (external). You may think, didn’t we already address the brand’s strengths and weaknesses in the situation analysis? Yes, yes we did. You’ll find that there will be repetition in your IMC plan which is totally normal, it’s all integrated, remember? You will have gone into more depth in the situation analysis, but the SWOT chart should only have short bullet points for each area. Sum up the important stuff, and don’t put in unnecessary or obvious information. My favourite “out” is when your professor wants at least three points under each area, and you can’t think of any more threats so you make a point that there could be an economic crisis so people won’t have any expendable income for the product or service. While it’s not wrong, it’s also not relevant and something the brand can’t do much of anything about. You should only be listing things that you address in your IMC plan, and there also shouldn’t be any recommendations in your SWOT chart; only state the facts. Yes, you should definitely use cats on your social media feeds when possible because cats are awesome, but don’t say that. Say that posts on social media involving cats get a good reaction.
Next, is your problem/opportunity statement. This should be clearly stated and drive your proposal. And yes, there can be both a problem and an opportunity. Now we’re almost halfway done, sort of…not really. Take a break, eat some nachos, then get back at this monster.
Now is when you talk about your target audience. In depth. Start with demographics and geographics like age, gender, education, ethnic background, household income, where they live and so on. Then there is psychographics, which is a little trickier. This is the target audiences’ values, opinions, and beliefs on anything related to the product or service your IMC plan is for. Also, talk about their usage of the product or service whether it is every day, every week, every month, and whenever they damn well feel like it as well as the benefits sought from the product or service. How will it make their lives better? Will it make my impending and unavoidable mortality less frightening? Cool. Lastly, for this part anyway, is any consumer insights or compelling truths you can think of.
Down to the nitty gritty now, the IMC mix. Start with your overall communications objective which is your desired outcome for the integrated mix of communications activities. Then state a simple sentence presenting the tools being recommended to fulfil your communications objective. Did I mention you should keep your page very organized because you are going to bouncing back and forth between the sections of your IMC plan like crazy? Because you should. Now you should do your positioning strategy, this isn’t about any physical locations, it’s how the brand is positioned in peoples’ minds. How do people think of the brand? A simple formula for the position statement is:
The brand or the product name is the
product category that
appropriate verb (provides, delivers, …)
unique, compelling benefit.
I’m sorry to say that everything bolded needs to be changed, you’ve got a couple words done for you though! Next is your creative strategy which will guide any campaign creative pieces. It should contain your objective and message strategy. That can be a whole other blog post though, so moving on. Time for the media! Address what you are trying to achieve in terms of audience, how many people it should reach and how many times people see the message, where you want the creative pieces to be, and the creative requirements for the placement. Of course, all of this costs money, so in your media strategy not only should you talk about the details like sizing and timing but also provide a strong rationale for all of this.
Now for the IMC tools themselves: advertising, direct marketing, internet/interactive, public relations, sales promotion, and social. I will go more in depth with the tools next week, that’s right I’m actually going to start planning ahead instead of having no idea what I’m going to blog about until the night of. Anyway, for assignments, we’re told to pick three tools so you have stuff to integrate with each other, and from there you need three things for each tool. First is the objective which explains what you want the tool to achieve and to support its use in your plan. Second is the strategy which is the specific activity you’re recommending like a coupon or media event. Third is the tactics which entail timing, location, quantities, etc.
Next is the measurement which will list and describe the ways your IMC strategies and tactics can be measured. This is very important for the client because they will want to know that what they’re paying for actually works. And finally, the conclusion. Drop the mic. Tie the bow of your beautiful IMC plan. Even if your eyes hurt at this point and you’re not sure if you’re looking at actual words anymore. Man, I’m getting PTSD from all the times I’ve had to do this for assignments, at least this is usually divided up in a group assignment…usually. If you’re done, then cheers, because if there’s one thing you need to know about advertisers is that they like to drink. And now you know why.