Chapter Six
Integrated Marketing Communications

You must not expect the customer to understand the benefits of your products or your technologies. That’s your job! Educate!

Akio Morita KBE (1921-1999), entrepreneur, co-founder Sony.
‘Made in Japan: Akio Morita and Sony’.

Business Context

In this chapter, we explore the nature and meaning of Integrated Marketing Communications (IMC) in driving profitable growth and contributing towards stakeholder value, including consumers, channel partners, employees, suppliers and investors.

Like many new management concepts to emerge from academics, consultants and practitioners, the core logic of IMC is difficult to refute. In a nutshell, the messages an organisation wishes to communicate externally, particularly those conveying their core brand values, should be coherent and consistent regardless of the media (‘route to mind’) employed.

Such media include advertising, the sales force, exhibitions, sponsorship, point-of-sale, packaging, public relations, word-of-mouth, trade fairs, websites, social networks, social media etc. As ever, the logic of this simple management principle is easy to describe but enormously difficult to apply in practice. For example, it is very common, particularly in large organisations, that completely different departments have been created to focus on each of the aforementioned media and, ironically, they often don’t communicate internally particularly well between themselves.

This problem is compounded by the involvement of third parties such as advertising agencies and other purveyors of a wide range of marketing services. SMEs are more likely than larger companies to rely on these specialist suppliers.

We explore these marketing communications (marcomms) and organisational challenges as core themes throughout the chapter alongside an evaluation of core marcomms practical frameworks, methodologies, processes and tools.

While we cover a broad cross-section of these, we also pay particular attention to new forces in communication media, for example, entrance to the advertising industry of companies such as Facebook, Google, Instagram, Snapchat, TikTok, Twitter, YouTube and so on. Among other impacts, the use of new analytics (e.g. behavioural responses to marcomms investments) and business models (e.g. ‘pay-per-click’ advertising) have transformed the competitive landscape in an industry (marketing services) experiencing transformational and unprecedented change in the contemporary digital age.

Digital Platforms

‘Digital platform’ broadly refers to the use of e-commerce and internet-related technologies for the distribution of products and services from supplier to consumer. ‘e-tailing’ (for example, Alibaba, Amazon, e-bay, Etsy, Gumtree) typically (but not exclusively) still requires the physical distribution of products through traditional supply chain and logistics systems once a purchase is made, e.g. consumer electronics, clothes, food etc.

In other product & service categories goods are indeed physically distributed online, for example, music & movies via streaming (e.g. Amazon Music/Video, Apple Music/TV+, Disney+, Netflix, Spotify, Tencent Music), books (e.g. Audible, Kindle, Kobo), travel services (e.g. Airbnb,, Expedia, trivago), financial services (‘fintech’, e.g. Starling Bank, Monzo, Revolut, AJ Bell Youinvest, e-Torro) etc.

Digital platforms should not be confused with communications media (e.g. advertising, sales promotions, publicity etc.), although there are many cases where the two are converging, a trend we explore in some detail throughout the chapter.

Indicative Content

    • Aligning marketing strategy, the marketing mix & IMC (aligns with Chapter Four).
    • Buyer behaviour, customer focus, brand positioning & IMC (aligns with Chapter Five).
    • Pursuing the ideal: delivering IMC strategies.
    • Customer relationship management: IMC strategies for customer profitability.
    • Managing the communications mix: advertising & sales promotion.
    • Managing the communications mix: public relations, sponsorship & exhibitions.
    • Managing the communications mix: alignment with key account management (KAM) & negotiation strategies.
    • Innovation strategies & IMC: influencing the adoption & diffusion of innovations in emerging, established and international markets (aligns with Chapter Three).
    • A structured & systematic approach to IMC: strategy and operations.
    • IMC in the digital age & the struggle for control.
    • Contemporary marketing methods from an IMC perspective, including Marketing 3.0, 4.0, viral marketing, smartphone marketing, guerrilla marketing, ambush marketing, suggestive marketing, influencer marketing etc.
    • Service industry IMC: communicating intangibles.
    • Evaluating marketing communications investments: a financial perspective.
    • Managing organisational reputation: a leadership perspective.
    • Organisational design for effective and efficient marketing communications: an organisational behaviour perspective (aligns with Chapter Eight).

Learning Outcomes

After studying this chapter, readers will:

    • Build upon their knowledge and experience of market segmentation and brand positioning principles: traditional & digital communications context (aligns with Chapters Four and Five).
    • Be able to undertake a comprehensive competitor and differential advantage analysis with reference to multiple ‘routes to mind’: IMC management audit.
    • Have the ability to create and manage successful IMC strategies.
    • Be able to analyse and enhance IMC performance.
    • Understand the components of IMC strategy (traditional & digital).
    • IMC project planning and IMC management.
    • Have the ability to drive IMC mapping and optimisation strategies.
    • Understand the need for organisational effectiveness to ensure successful IMC management implementation.
    • Justify IMC investments using traditional and innovative investment appraisal techniques.
    • Apply the principles of IMC management to create and/or contribute to the preparation and implementation of comprehensive IMC programmes using proven practical frameworks, methodologies, processes and tools.


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