The older generation might still remember the time when Integrated marketing communications (IMC) came into play in the 80s. At that time, the whole marketing environment was undergoing profound changes with the advent of the Internet. New communications technologies, media proliferation, audience fragmentation, globalization of markets and the widespread use of databases heralded inexorably the end of old methods and practices by making them less effective or even irrelevant.
The rise of digital and interactive media blazed a trail for new approaches to ‘marcom’ that became well-known as integrated marketing communications. The new movement required a holistic planning process, a focus on integrating messages across a variety of communications disciplines, and creative executions when dealing with media, timing and stakeholders, which is still keeping marketing communications managers on their toes today.
In a nutshell, there are three noteworthy IMC planning approaches:
1. The “inside-out” approach, the traditional planning approach to marketing communications, begins with planning "inside" the organization by identifying the goals and objectives - which are often based on what has always been done. Communications’ task then becomes a process of "selling" the organization's message to the "outside" or external stakeholders.
2. The ‘outside–in’ approach seeks to understand the needs and wants of the consumer. It offers a unique way to planning, as it operates backwards by concentrating on customers first, then determining the most effective course of marketing and communication methods to implement.
3. The ‘cross-functional planning’ approach, finally, clearly diverges from the other two categories, since it doesn’t center around the concept of marketing promotional elements. Instead, its focus has shifted toward restructuring the organization to increase a customer-centric environment. Recognizing that messages do not just come from the marketing department but can come from virtually any department within the organization and of course the costumers themselves. Such interactive communication is beneficial for a cross-functional approach as the business and consumers are both involved in brand communication.
Naturally, IMC must adapt constantly to the changing nature of the marketing dynamics.