Integrated Marketing Communication

  • ID: 42715
  • Report
  • 111 pages
  • American Productivity & Quality Center, APQC
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The purpose of this multicompany benchmarking study was to identify and examine innovations, best practices, and key trends in the area of integrated marketing communication to gain insights and learnings about the process. Twenty-two companies participated in the study by attending a series of planning sessions, completing data-gathering surveys, and attending or hosting on-site interviews. Of those 22 companies, 14 sponsored the study and eight were identified as having strong or innovative integrated marketing communication programs in place. These eight were invited to participate in the study as benchmarking “partners.” One of the sponsor organizations submitted detailed questionnaires from three different divisions, while another did not submit a detailed questionnaire; thus, the total number of possible respondents to the quantitative portions of this study is 15 sponsors and eight partners.


Integrated marketing communication (IMC) is a strategic-business process used to plan, develop, execute, and evaluate coordinated and measurable persuasive brand communication programs over time with consumers, customers, prospects, and other targeted, relevant external and internal audiences. IMC grew out of the need for marketing organizations to move beyond functionally driven, internally focused approaches to marketing and communication. It attempts to shift focus from an “inside-out,” internal orientation to one that is “outside-in” (i.e., determining customer value provided by customer data and customer insights). It employs a variety of traditional and nontraditional communication tools and methods to deliver messages to customers, prospects, and other important audiences, coordinating all activities to achieve consistency and synergy. However, IMC, as it has been practiced by leading organizations, does not end with coordinated message delivery. The ultimate goals of IMC are to institute customer-oriented sensibilities and business processes in all aspects of the organization and its operations to add value for customers, provide a framework for resource allocation, and achieve sustainable competitive advantages.


This study was built on the concept that corporate enterprises do not simply decide to “become integrated” but, in fact, evolve as integrated organizations over a period of several years. The study is based on the hypothesis that organizations transition through four identifiable stages of integration and that the skills, processes, and practices developed in one level lay the groundwork for the organization to move on to the next stage. The stages of IMC are not discreet, finite periods in an organization’s life with sharply defined boundaries or milestones. In general, it appears that organizations address different concerns at each stage and develop the skills and tools appropriate for each. These companies begin with tactical “how-to” and “when-to” issues and move progressively to questions of coordinating internal and external activities, using customer data to drive priorities, and finally to applying IMC principles to far-reaching and strategic issues such as resource allocation, organizational alignment, and financial integration and accountability. Inherent in the hypothesis is that a number of companies have achieved significant success in the early stages of IMC; however, few have attained full capabilities in the later stages.

Each of the four stages is briefly described below. A more extensive discussion of each appears in the main body of the report, at the beginning of the section on each stage.

Stage 1: Tactical Coordination of Marketing Communication
Stage 2: Redefining the Scope of Marketing Communication
Stage 3: Application of Information Technology
Stage 4: Financial and Strategic Integration

Given the above hypothesis, the goals of this study were threefold:
- verify the underlying construct of the four stages of integration;
- identify the most common and most effective practices, policies, and characteristics of leading practitioners within each stage; and
- identify emerging practices and innovations, even if they are not yet widely adopted, that can assist other organizations in more fully achieving integration at every level and provide guideposts for the future.


This report has been organized into four sections, each representing a stage of
integrated marketing communication. The 1–2 key findings are categorized under these section headings,

Stage 1: Tactical Coordination of Marketing Communication
Stage 2: Redefining the: Scope of Marketing Communication
Stage 3: Application of Information Technology
Stage 4: Financial and, Strategic Integration


The consortium benchmarking methodology was developed in 1993 and serves as one of the premier methods for successful benchmarking in the world. It is a powerful tool for identifying best and innovative practices and for facilitating the actual transfer of these practices. The data collection tools used to gather information are:
- a Detailed Questionnaire: quantitative questions, designed to collect objective and quantitative data; and
- a Site Visit Discussion Guide: qualitative questions, designed to collect qualitative information about targeted aspects of the integrated marketing communication processes.

Five of the eight partners hosted half-day site visits, allowing sponsors to meet with key personnel and share their integrated marketing communication strategies and practices. A group of consortium members attended each site visit in order to participate in the discussion and to experience different programs firsthand. Both partner companies and sponsors responded to the
Detailed Questionnaire. Only five partner companies were asked to respond to the Site Visit Discussion Guide. (This accounts for the variation in amounts of qualitative information on the partner companies presented in this report.)

Primary and secondary research conducted was used to help select innovative companies. In addition, consortium members, the project team, and the subject matter experts identified potential participants based on their own first hand experiences and research.
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- Sponsor and Partner Companies

A complete listing of the sponsor companies in this study, as well as the best-practice (“partner”) companies that were benchmarked for their innovation and
advancement in integrated marketing communication.

- Executive Summary

A bird’s-eye view of the study, presenting the key findings discovered and the methodology used throughout the course of the study. The findings are explored in detail in following sections.

- Key Findings

An in-depth look at the 12 key findings of this study. The findings are supported by quantitative data and qualitative examples of practices employed by the partner companies.

- Partner Company Profiles

Background information on the partner companies, as well as their integrated marketing communication processes.

- Appendix

Data and information about the consortium members and their marketing communication functions’ locations and budgets.
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