Why Integrated Marketing Communications is Like a Brick House

Have you ever seen a print advertisement in a newspaper or magazine for a beauty product, food product, automobile, etc., and seen an advertisement on TV for the same product? Maybe you also hear a commercial on the radio for the product, and it sounds very similar to the TV ad you saw. Perhaps you noticed that the company uses the same (or very similar) backgrounds or landscapes, models, and other visual indicators. Did you also notice the verbiage of what the company is advertising and how they are advertising it? Did you recognize that the same promotion or value proposition was clearly referenced and advertised in each marketing channel? This isn’t due to lack of creativity, it’s just the magic of marketing, plain and simple!

There’s an important concept in marketing called “integrated marketing communications”, which supports an idea of consistency in all marketing efforts. Why is consistency important? It’s the difference between building a house out of bricks and building a house of stones. Let’s consider a hypothetical situation to illustrate the point:

While reading your favorite magazine, you come across a beautiful, artistic, and elegant full page ad for a new model of a vehicle. The advertisement emphasizes luxury and comfort that this car encompasses. Later on, while driving to dinner, you hear a radio ad for this vehicle that is comical, features a noisy family, and emphasizes the safety of this car. While watching TV before bed, you see a commercial for this vehicle racing through town while dodging obstacles, explosions going off in the background, and a gruff man narrating about the performance element of this car. Maybe you also receive a piece of mail advertising the spectacular price the car is selling for at the dealership down the road.

This is like building a house out of stones. Stones are strong, they can support weight, and they are relatively functional. Similarly, each ad, on its own, may be very effective in accomplishing its purpose. For example, after reading the ad we know the car is luxurious, after hearing the radio spot we know it’s safe, after seeing the commercial, we know it’s a performance vehicle, and the mail clearly states the great price.

However, building a house out of stones is very challenging, as they are all different sizes, they don’t balance well, and the walls can easily topple over due to instability and the edges that just don’t line up. With each advertisement focusing on a different element, the audience is left conflicted about what the take away is. Do we want this car for its luxuriousness, safety, performance, or value? Each form of marketing ends up competing with the other, and the effectiveness of the advertisements are diluted.

Now let’s imagine that each form of marketing focused on the same message: “This car has a very sleek design and a luxurious interior”, for example. The message from the print advertisements would be supported and reiterated by the messages heard on the radio and the messages seen on TV. After being exposed to all the different forms of marketing, one would have no doubt about what the company was trying to convey, as well as the value of owning this new car. This is like building a house out of bricks. Each element is strong and they work together due to their matching clean edges. Like bricks, these elements are very easily stacked, built upon, and strengthened by the presence of other pieces.

Integrated marketing communications is all about clarity, repetition throughout media, and consistent branding and messaging. You want your customers to know exactly what you’re trying to convey, and you want to reinforce this message throughout all of your marketing efforts. Try to shape each form of marketing: traditional/print, radio, TV, social media, direct mail, etc, to communicate the same message so that your target audience doesn’t get confused. In fact, leave them no opportunity for confusion. Be clear and be consistent.

The point of integrated marketing communications is that each marketing effort is supporting and adding to the effectiveness of the others. Like a series of well positioned bricks, strategic integrated marketing communications initiatives stack on top of each other, creating a strong, cohesive, well rounded campaign. Each element adds more support and value to the integrity of the campaign, as they repeat the important and desired information, and communicate them in a consistent manner, across diverse and complimentary channels. This is a strategic marketing process aimed at developing the strongest and most productive outcome.

Integrate your desired message among all forms of marketing and communication, and have the elements working together to enhance your initiatives. Build your campaigns with strong and sturdy “bricks”, that compliment each other and work together to enhance your desired goals.