Integrated marketing, or IM, also known as integrated marketing communications (IMC) or cross-channel marketing, is the practice of using multiple advertising channels to get a single message out about a product or service. The idea behind integrated marketing is that by using a variety of different media, marketers are able to reach their target audience more frequently and effectively. Ideally, each exposure to the message builds on the previous ones, solidifying it in the consumer's mind and increasing the likelihood that they will respond to its call to action.
The channels used in integrated marketing campaigns may include both traditional and new media. Traditional media is comprised of printed advertisements, such as those in newspapers, on billboards, or on public transit, as well as those sent through postal mail and radio and television ads. New media refers to technology-mediated messaging, including online communications through websites, e-mail, and social networks. New media advertising often includes text messaging, podcasts, and other high-tech tools. Sponsorship and planned events may also play a role in an integrated marketing strategy.
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In order for an integrated marketing campaign to succeed, it normally includes a balanced mix of channels that the target audience is already tuned into. For example, if one were selling a product aimed at teenagers, it might be appropriate to advertise on websites and radio stations popular with adolescents, and on train and bus lines with heavy student ridership. One would likely avoid newspaper ads and direct mail because those channels are traditionally unpopular with teens. In order to select the best combination of media, marketing strategists typically look for those that reach the largest number of people in the target demographic, with the greatest frequency, for the least money.
Regardless of which channels are chosen, consistency of messaging is key. It helps ensure the brand in question is not diluted, which could cause it to lose some of its power, and helps prevent audience confusion. Consistency in logo usage is a good example. Using the same logo in all forms of advertising can help solidify brand recognition. A company may have a couple versions of a logo to accommodate both stacked and vertical advertising, but both should be interchangeably recognizable. Company jingles for radio or TV are another example of how consistency can create product recognition.
New communication technologies are constantly being developed, making integrated marketing a fast-changing field. Because of this, it has become a popular focus of study at universities around the world. Aspiring marketing students may improve their chances of gaining employment by including classes in this field.