Mini-MBA™: Integrated Marketing Communications (IMC) - Curriculum

Module 1:  The IMC Imperative

In this digital age, various media types have burst onto the scene to provide more cost-effective and targeted methods to engage with audiences. Efficient and effective delivery of consistent and powerful brand messages requires inter-organization and cross-platform alignment. This session will establish why IMC should not be considered an option, but an imperative.

Through thought-provoking lecture, interactive discussion, and case study examples, students will gain an understanding of why IMC is critical to future success. This module will also provide an overview of the concepts that will be delivered throughout the course.

Key Takeaways:
  • How the changing media landscape is impacting marketing
  • Strategic platforms and aligning the marketing mix
  • Why no channel or department lives in a silo
  • Business planning and organizational structure implications
  • The importance and the necessity for having an integrated marketing communications plan
  • Tying marketing strategy to business objectives vis-à-vis the marketing brief


Module 2: Research, Measurement & Attribution Modeling 

As business professionals seek to gather consumer insight and market intelligence within a fragmented media environment, the critical challenge becomes how to balance traditional metrics with contemporary analytics.

Quantitative research [QT] asks the questions and qualitative research [QL] questions the answers. Good business decisions need both types of metrics to determine not only the value of products, ideas, and services, but also which factors pull consumers toward – or push them away from – advertising, products, ideas, and services.

Key Takeaways:

  • Types of QT research methods, and when to apply them
  • Types of QL research methods, and when to apply them (During this session, participants will have the opportunity to take part in a “mock focus group” to experience this research tool in action.)
  • The power of effective questions
  • Bricolage – the marriage of research methodologies to meet client needs
  • How research informs strategic decision-making, as evidenced through three case studies 


Module 3: Getting the Most from your Media Budget

How can you insure that you’re maximizing your media dollars? From creating media strategies to executing media plans and buys, this module will pinpoint key items on which to focus so that you can feel confident that your media programs are contributing optimally to brand results.

In this session, we will cover critical terms, address how various media contribute to plan effectiveness, identify core elements of media strategies, and outline the basics of sound media plans and buys. The discussion will encompass traditional and new media, direct and branding efforts, as well as B2B and B2C campaigns.

Key Takeaways:

  • How a media strategy differs from and complements creative and marketing strategies
  • What constitutes strong media strategies and plans
  • How to encourage the best results from agencies and media companies
  • Aligning media initiatives to overall integrated marketing programs
  • How to deal with the changing media landscape


Module 4: Omni-Channel & The Power of Digital

Digital media enables marketers to truly reach the target consumer at the right place, at the right time, and with the right message. Given these capabilities, marketers recognize that consumers expect a seamless and authentic experience whether they begin their shopping journey on a search engine or their favorite social media site. Although this task can seem daunting – especially in an ever-evolving digital landscape, avoiding media innovation does not decrease risk. As a matter of fact, it adds to it.

This module will address how you can welcome innovation to execute and manage brand strategies using modern marketing tactics, such as mobile, social media, online video, search, digital retail marketing and CRM.

Key Takeaways:

  • Why new media and marketing platforms require clearly defined objectives and KPIs
  • The role of behavioral targeting, data, and automation in optimizing and informing future integrated marketing initiatives
  • How to mitigate the risk of innovation avoidance or scaling new media too soon by establishing an innovation “co-op” fund
  • The implications of using data intelligence for mass customization
  • How to deal with important industry issues related to ad fraud and impression delivery


Module 5: Alignment for Success

IMC refers not only to integrating multiple media channels into your marketing strategy, but also to integrating the various parties who are creating and sharing brand messages across this multitude of channels. Unifying and aligning the thinking and output of internal departments (such as PR, sales, and customer service) as well as external partners (for example, agencies) is critical to maximizing IMC results.

Marketers must optimize strategic planning and empower partners to deliver results through measurable tactics. This module will focus on goal setting and measurement tools to properly manage expectations for all partners in the face of competing priorities, agendas, and cross-organizational politics.

Key Takeaways:

  • Why alignment of both internal and external resources is critical to IMC success
  • Best practices for selecting and working with advertising agencies in the modern marketing environment
  • Ways to ensure that partnerships remain healthy, productive, and strong


Module 6: The Communications Development Process

Today’s marketing executives have several tools in their arsenals to develop a comprehensive integrated marketing communications strategy. But what is the most effective way to develop that strategy?

Through exploration of best practices in strategic planning, “The Communications Development Process” module will enable participants to generate a compelling, relevant brand strategy, outline content guidelines/requirements, and create processes that result in the delivery of consistent and cohesive marketing tactics.

Key Takeaways:

  • How to develop and utilize various types of briefs (including brand strategy, digital marketing, social marketing, and channel-specific briefs)
  • Core principles of brand leadership and tips for staying “on brand”
  • Tools to ensure that the various tactics are executed efficiently and effectively across multiple channels 


Module 7: Global Brand Management

With the array of options through which to target and engage prospective consumers, marketers recognize that it’s no longer possible to speak to all prospects in the same way – a concept that is particularly critical in a multicultural, global marketplace. 

How can you engage your diverse audiences in a relevant manner, both domestically and internationally? This module of the program will provide the foundation to plan and execute marketing communications in a way that supports the often cited phrase, “Think global, act local.”

Key Takeaways:

  • Trends in global media and local media to address diversity, ethnicity, and cultures 
  • How stereotypes, trends and emerging segments can influence marketing messages, and the precautions marketers should take to avoid stereotyping
  • Ethical issues involved in marketing to American subcultures
  • Tips for optimizing the creative process to ensure that your messages translate on a global scale


Module 8: The Latest Trends & Innovation

The fast-paced world of marketing changes on a continuous basis, and with such a high rate of innovation, it can be challenging to keep up with all of the latest tools, tactics, and technologies, as well as to separate the necessary from the “noise”.

From storytelling and content marketing to neuromarketing, native advertising, and beyond, we’ll dissect the most important marketing trends and how to strategically apply them to your integrated marketing plans.  

Key Takeaways:  

  • Identifying the difference between a “shiny object” marketing tactic and a strategic communications choice
  • What's trending, what’s useful, and why 
  • Why storytelling is the rule, not the exception


Module 9: Creating a Winning IMC Culture 

Igniting a spirit of collaboration and embracing the best practices of IMC within your organization and across multiple agency partners requires much more than good intentions. Although we’d like to think that all parties will act in the best interests of the brand, conflicts of interest can and will arise. The ability to mitigate these conflicts and establish a true IMC culture will rest in the planning and creation of sustainable processes for collaboration.

This session will provide a comprehensive view of how to utilize internal and external resources to deliver IMC at your company. 

Key Takeaways:

  • How to introduce a new IMC process into your company that guarantees success
  • Why there isn’t a “one size fits all” IMC program
  • Methods blue-chip advertisers are employing to drive IMC with their external partners
  • Best practices for working with agencies to embrace IMC and deliver measurable ROI


Module 10: Applying IMC to Your Brand

You believe in IMC, and you want to see it succeed in your organization. Now how do you apply the lessons from this program to your own business scenario in order to bring IMC to life?

During this interactive work session, you will create an action plan that identifies and begins to solve for gaps in your brand’s ability to create an IMC program at your company. Additionally, we’ll identify the steps needed to unify the appropriate marketing communications tools to send the consumer a consistent, persuasive message that helps meet the communications goal of driving brand salience.

Key Takeaways:

  • How to turn a product into a brand
  • The 10 challenges that inhibit IMC results
  • A 7-step model for delivering successful IMC