Monday, March 05, 2007

Integrated Marketing Communications

Over the last months I was a bit surprised to encounter several Fortune 500 marketing organizations as well as some leading marketers, who are focusing heavily on the concept of “Integrated Marketing Communication (IMC)”. I thought this concept had its prime time in the mid and late 90ies. But I was wrong, it seems that most marketing organizations have never executed against this rather simple but powerful marketing approach. The American Marketing Association suggests that IMC is a “Planning process designed to assure that all brand contacts received by a customer or prospect for a product, service, or organization are relevant to that person and consistent over time.” Who could argue against this very sound philosophy? I think no one.

Using Google to find the deeper meaning of IMC, one can only be surprised that 6 out of the top 10 search results are academic references to related research and papers (e.g. Northwestern). No real live company or firm shows up in the top 10 results. It indicates that IMC seems to remain more a theoretical concept that a well executed and proven practice. My personal experience tells me that one of the key reasons for the week proliferation of IMC is the insufficient usage of Data Intelligence.

How can the correct and relevant usage of data support a successful IMC practice? There are a couple of areas where the right Data Intelligence can function as the crucial foundation of any successful IMC:
  • Only the actionable data driven insights into consumers, their preferences, intentions, and behaviors enable the most profitable design of targeted marketing message on segment specific level at the right time in the right channel.
  • Only data intelligence can set up the right optimization framework to improve an IMC plan in a structured and holistic manner. The real hard work starts after agreeing and executing the first IMC plan
  • Only data intelligence can quantify the positive impact of a well designed and correctly executed IMC strategy. The IMC philosophy is certainly correct but to go beyond its "truthiness” (S.C.) we have to look at its concrete financial benefits.

My initial surprise of the resurgence of the IMC approach was unjustified, there is still so much more basic marketing work to be completed before most marketing organizations can move beyond it.

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