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IMC Message Typology

IMC Message Typology

Once you understand the theory of Integrated Marketing Communication (IMC), you can begin to dive into the more practical applications of the process – and it’s important to start at the top with IMC Message Typology. Essentially, IMC Message Typology is a system for categorising your communications. It informs how you should deliver your messages, and which audiences they will reach.

First put forward by Duncan & Moriarty in 1997, business communications will generally fall into one of four types of messages: Planned, Inferred, Maintenance, and Unplanned. Even though digital channels have changed dramatically since, these core categories remain extremely useful in guiding your IMC approach.

The Four Types of Message Typology

As the name suggests, this type of message is one that comes from a premeditated marketing campaign. Planned messages aim to highlight your products and services, situate your brand positioning, and carve out your brand identity. They require thorough analysis of your organisation to be successful. Planned messages are most appropriate in the following kinds of campaigns:

  • Advertising
  • Public Relations
  • Sales Promotion
  • Direct Response
  • Packaging
  • Signage
Everything you do sends a message. The way your business is presented leaves an impression on your stakeholders, employees, and customers. In order to encourage positive perception of your brand, you need to have a conscious framework for managing the experiences people have when interacting with your organisation. You never want to compromise your intended message, but it’s crucial that audiences don’t infer the wrong sentiment from how it is delivered to them.

Even when you’re not trying to showcase your business, your messaging should still focus on the quality of your services. Maintenance messages are those small customer service interactions you have when handling disruptions, complaints, queries, and more. Keep in mind that customers will prefer brands that provide less hassle overall, even if you can’t resolve their problems immediately. Make sure your maintenance messaging is crafted to reduce frustration, not aggravate the situation.

Even with the most optimised IMC strategies, not everything will go to plan. In those circumstances, you need to be prepared to craft your messages on short notice. You won’t have the time to coordinate your brand response across every team, so it is vital to have a communication framework already in place to control the situation and minimise brand risk. Unplanned messages most often arise during:

  • Investigations by reporters
  • Consumer Advocate Group announcements
  • Product recalls
  • Internal misconduct
  • Disasters & Emergency responses

A Common Problem for PR Messages

An important aspect of IMC is coordination. However, public relations (PR) are often split across different departments – HR makes statements on employee relations, Marketing on product issues, Legal on corporate incidents. To keep your communications consistent, PR messages should be managed as part of your IMC strategy. Depending on the situation, these messages will fall into one of the four major message types, but as a general rule they are normally Unplanned Messages, such as in the case of:

  • Issue management
  • Crisis planning
  • Employee relations

Monitoring Unplanned and Incidental Communications

To resolve this PR message problem, it cannot be overstated how useful it is to have a dedicated community relations manager to catch all of the incidental messages being received by your audiences. When the unexpected happens and urgency is paramount, having a singular voice to coordinate corporate communications will save you in the long run. The position demands a lot of trust, requiring individuals to make snap decisions with sensitive information, but it can give you a huge competitive edge over the companies that don’t devote resources to the role.

What does this mean for my business?

Integrated Marketing Communication is crucial for every business, and it’s more than what is simply relayed through words. With a thorough understanding of IMC message typology, you can get ahead of your competitors through unified branding, encouraging better teamwork, collaboration, and coordination.

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