IMC Mix and My Dumb Cat

Finally tore myself away from watching Friends so I can help you all make some sense of the integrated marketing communications plan we went over last week. The biggest part that needs further explaining is the IMC mix. First, you need to select the IMC tools you’ll be using. Consider the audience you’re trying to reach and what they’ll respond to. Your budget is also a big factor, as well as your short term and long term objectives in your plan.

If you have a generous budget then consider advertising, direct marketing, and sales promotion. Or more likely, if you don’t have much of a budget to work with, look at public relations and social. Timing wise, your options for short term objectives include sales promotion, social, public relations, and direct marketing. If your goals are long term like changing the perception of your brand, for example, look at advertising, public relations and social. And yes, some work for both! When in doubt choose the tools that work for both.

Now let’s clarify what each of these tools actually are. Let’s start with sales promotion. This includes coupons, rebates, price discounts, premium offers, speciality packs, loyalty programs, contests or sweepstakes, cause-related promotions, sampling, and trade deals. All that retail stuff we love, I applaud the people who keep track of coupons and actually use them. All of these sales promotions strategies can accomplish a lot for your objectives. Some of your objectives may be to gain product trial, increase the amount of purchases, generate excitement in a campaign, to reward faithful customers, build trade support, and within a set time period you provide an incentive to act now.

Next, let’s talk about public relations. Strategies include media releases, media conferences, exclusives, interviews, community involvement, and publicity stunts; less flashy paper and cards, and less tangible. Any of these can help with objectives like gaining positive media coverage, informing customers about how to select, buy, or use a product, introducing a new product, influencing opinion leaders, dispel negative opinions or information, support an event, and build or maintain a positive corporate image.

Now for direct marketing, which we are starting to see less of. The strategies include direct mail, direct response TV, e-marketing, telemarketing, and catalogues. Okay, so telemarketing is still alive and well, but how many people in this generation still get the Sears catalogue in the mail? Let me know in the comments! Of course, some brands do use this tool, and there is big opportunity to make this very personalized. This tool can help with objectives like generating inquiries or building leads, selling the product directly, gaining product trial, increasing usage or purchase quantities, building a personal relationship, and reaching highly targeted audiences in a more intimate and personal environment. Don’t be too quick to overlook direct marketing.

However, what’s my favourite IMC tool you ask? Social of course! And these days you’d be crazy not to use it for how affordable it is and the results you get. Strategies include integrated presence on networks, developing meaningful and useful content for sharing, a variety of content – images, videos, infographics – that could go viral (cats help with this), offer engagement on a number of platforms, matching platforms to type of content appropriately, and sometimes there’s simply a right place, right time, right message. All of these can cover three basic objectives: power word-of-mouth with technology, create or change conversations, and connect and engage people who are loyal to the brand.

As for advertising, we all know what it is. Radio ads, commercials, print ads in bus shelters and malls, billboards, mobile ads that pop up in our games, youtube ads and online ads down the side of websites or right in our timelines themselves; they really are everywhere and they are damn expensive. We see them all the time and there’s so much more of it that we automatically block out. Breaking through the clutter isn’t always easy. You have to do something great, give people a reason to not block it out, because they don’t care. You need to grab their attention right away and hold it long enough to give them a reason to care. And if you’ve made them care, they may even do your call to action, whether it be to click a link, go to a store, or buy something. A good way to do this is to have some damn good creative that is, as my professor Jake Volt would say, surprising, engaging, and delightful. So next week I’ll tell you all about how to write your creative strategy. I promise that we will have some fun with that one! Have a wonderful week and enjoy this photo of Harley from my old place. She stayed like this for longer than I care to admit.

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