Clients and prospects often ask me "what is integrated marketing communications?" According to Wikipedia, "Integrated marketing communications (IMC) is a programme of messages and related media used to communicate with a market. Those who practice advertising, branding, direct marketing, graphic design, marketing, packaging, promotion, publicity, sponsorship, public relations, sales, sales promotion and online marketing are termed marketing communicators, marketing communication managers, or more briefly as marcoms managers."
In essence, marketing communications is a subset of marketing's well known four Ps, namely price, place, promotion and product, which can include people, processes and physical evidence, when marketing services (known as the seven Ps).
So, "how does marketing communications fit in?" Marketing communications is the 'promotion' of the marketing mix.
This leads to "why are are marketing communications integrated?" Simply put, integration means targeting a standard set of messages through different media and channels in a coherant programme to ensure that all the pieces fit together into a big picture in the minds of your audience. Too many messages confuse your customers and damage brands. Define your unique selling proposition, decide what you need to say to communicate it and keep your messages simple.
As an example, if a magazine advert carries a particular logo, images and message, then all newspaper adverts and point-of-sale materials should carry the same logo, images or message, or one that fits into the same theme. Coca Cola is an excellent example of a coherent message of enjoyment communicated across all media and channels
Of course, any marketer worth their salt knows that measurement is critical to the success of IMC. The aim in your efforts should be to track everything from how a campaign is delivering against its objectives, to which creative execution was the most successful. Once a campaign is complete, you should summarise the findings, analysing them to determine how the entire campaign performed. From there, benchmarks should be developed which should be re-visited and re-assess as you develop further campaigns. This allows you to measure your performance, and to understand a key set of data and relevant information that is directly related to you.