How to Build an Integrated Marketing Communications Team
Collaborating on a finely tuned team can feel magical, and the results can be exceptional.
When it doesn’t work, the opposite holds true: Bad teams can suck the oomph out of us and make us dread our work.
Any marketers in the house? We bet you can relate to this narrative better than anyone else.
Now the big question is: Will you still put up with a crummy IMC team or are you ready to do things the right way this time around?
When creating your integrated marketing communications team, you have to choose the participants meticulously. You have to include members that can actually work together—whether their specialty is social media marketing, direct marketing, content marketing, email marketing, or anything in between.
Of course, that’s easier said than done. That’s why we’ve developed this IMC team creation guide for marketers like you. In it, you’ll learn:
- The essence of an integrated marketing communications team
- How to build a high-performance IMC team in 5 simple steps
- And, how Welcome can supercharge the effectiveness of your IMC team
Let’s do this thing!
The Importance of a Full-Strength Integrated Marketing Communications Team
Pretty much anyone who has spent time maintaining a consistent brand message across every touchpoint knows this one truth:
It. Is. TOUGH.
It’s so much more than the daily tweets announcing your new product. Those were the good ol’ days of social media marketing. These days, brands require time, energy, and, more importantly, a fully functional IMC team to truly thrive.
This begs the question: Why should you have an integrated marketing communications team in the first place?
- To establish your company’s online reputation by building product and brand awareness.
- To define individual marketing campaigns as they align with the overall digital marketing strategy.
- To promote content across all content marketing channels
- To facilitate the seamless execution of your brand’s communications plan
- To glean only the best market research insights and use them to drive the existing integrated marketing campaign
- To work cross-functionally and liaise with other key stakeholders (think: advertising agencies, public relations teams, and other departments)
- To create, collaborate, and control the brand story through consistent messaging
- And a lot more!
Now to the part you’ve been waiting for with zest: how to create an all-star integrated marketing communications team.
Building a High-Performance IMC Team: A Step-by-Step Guide for Marketers
Here’s the breakdown:
- Evaluate Your Current Situation (Budget, Workforce, and Resources)
- Align Communication Channels with Your Company Goals
- How Many People Should You Include In Your IMC Team?
- What Skills Should You Look For When Composing Your IMC Team?
- Lay Down the Structure of Your IMC Team
Step 1: Evaluate Your Current Situation (Budget, Workforce, and Resources)
There are several factors about your current situation that might influence the decision-making around your IMC team. Some of these include:
Your budget can influence many key decisions, such as how many people you can bring on board and what communication tools your team can use to best reach your target audience.
It could also affect how ambitious you want to be with your marketing communications goals.
Rather than hiring new faces, you might find people within the marketing department who’re cut out for IMC.
Or perhaps other stakeholders in the company might want to sacrifice a little of their time to promote a consistent message across every channel.
We’ll discuss the IMC team structure a little later, so stick around.
Resources can be things like:
- Integrated marketing communications software (hey there, Welcome)
- A marketing plan
- Blogs crafted by your content team
- Carefully organized Gantt charts
- Marketing messages ideated within the department and filed for reference
- Or a well-documented content marketing plan.
Having such resources can raise your marketing team’s productivity and minimize the number of people you need in your IMC team.
Once you’ve got a bird’s eye view of your current situation, the next step should be aligning communication tools with your company goals.
Step 2: Align Communication Channels with Your Company Goals
The drill here is simple: you need to define how integrated marketing communication tools can help improve your bottom line.
In case you didn’t know, goal-setting can increase a person’s motivation and performance—and marketers are no exception. It becomes even more important when forming your IMC team.
Knowing your goals early on can help you decide on the ideal team size, the right hires, and the suitable structure.
In recent years, the use case for integrated marketing communications has gone beyond just social media marketing. It is now being used for sales promotion, public relations, and a lot more.
Here are 10 IMC goals you could aim for:
- Brand awareness: To establish an online presence and increase your reach across all (the important) social media channels—LinkedIn, Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter.
- Brand loyalty: To create a condition of irrational loyalty. When your customers consider using a competitor’s brand but ultimately feel like they’re cheating on yours, that’s brand loyalty.
- Engagement: To connect and engage with your target audience
- Sales promotion: To increase consumer demand for your offerings and to get prospects to heed your call to action.
- Lead generation: To gather key information from your prospects
- SEO (aka search engine optimization): To boost your site’s ranking on Google
- Community building: To gather advocates for your brand
- Revenue: To supercharge sign-ups or sales
- Public relations: To persuade the public, investors, partners, team members, and other relevant stakeholders to maintain a unified view about the current marketing plan
- Traffic: To drive traffic to your blog or website
Whether you’re new to the IMC realm and building a team from scratch or looking to expand your existing IMC team, it’s important to consider how integrated marketing communication tools can help you achieve your overarching company goals.
Step 3: How Many People Should You Include In Your IMC Team?
What’s the ideal size of an integrated marketing communications team is an interesting question to explore.
It’s almost like asking what’s the ideal number of children to have, and there’s definitely no right or wrong answer (or is there?).
Remember the wife of Feodor Vassilyev (1707-1782), who gave birth to 16 pairs of twins, seven sets of triplets, and four sets of quadruplets? Yup, that’s one, two, three… sixty-nine children!
Point is, there are IMC teams of many different sizes.
On one end of the spectrum, you’ll find companies with one manager (or at most, two marketing managers) in charge of all their integrated marketing campaigns.
So, yes, it depends and varies greatly from brand to brand!
With that said, here are some considerations to make when deciding the suitable number for your IMC team:
- Your company’s goals: The more important the concept of integrated marketing is in your company, the bigger your team could be.
- Your IMC goals: The bigger your goals (we mean, high volume of marketing messages, a complex marketing mix, and a marketing plan with a rather broad scope), the more people you’ll need.
- Your marketing budget: The bigger your budget, the easier it’ll be to have more people in your team.
- Resources available for integrated marketing communications (e.g., IMC solutions, content, research reports, etc.): The more resources available, the fewer people you’ll likely need.
Next, we look at the skills you need in your IMC team.
Step 4: What Skills Should You Look For When Composing Your IMC Team?
When deciding your team size and composition, it’s prudent to understand the various roles and responsibilities needed as part of your IMC team.
Here are five typical roles in an IMC team:
Marketing Communications Manager
A marketing communications manager takes a high-level view of IMC and is often responsible for laying down individual marketing strategies and planning for the team.
Some other key roles of the IMC manager include:
- Coordinating with agency partners and all other relevant stakeholders
- Conducting or commissioning market research
- Developing content schedules and maintaining deadlines
- Publishing content
- Creating and implementing communications plans to increase market share
- Collaborating with cross-functional teams—from creative to product marketing—to deliver consistent brand experiences
- Providing final approval on all IMC tools (hello again, Welcome).
- Securing sponsorships to drive overall marketing goals
- Orchestrating and managing marketing resources
In some companies, the marketing communications manager might also take up roles in social media marketing and search engine optimization.
A content creator specializes in creating content for both digital media and offline channels. Such content includes blog posts, ebooks, web pages, and social media posts.
Because of the scope of this work, sometimes content creators do have their hands full with:
- Conducting keyword research and employing SEO best practices to optimize content
- Analyzing web traffic to measure content success (i.e., conversions and bounce rates).
- Optimizing content for the target audience
- Incorporating social media and blog posts in both social media channels and websites
An advertiser works on paid social media advertising, such as LinkedIn and Facebook ads. They are typically a quantitative person who loves experimenting with diverse ads and creatives. Their forte particularly lies in polishing ad campaigns for maximum ROI.
Often, marketing communications managers tend to double up as content marketers.
Ideally, though, content marketers have their own well-defined roles. These include:
- Planning content in a way that contributes to the overall brand story
- Acting as the editor for the content creator(s)
- Managing a team of writers, designers, and data analysts
- Measuring the results of marketing activity to inform future marketing strategies
- Increasing brand awareness through marketing content online
- Managing a content marketing budget
- Crafting and rolling out creative marketing strategies to distribute content
Last but certainly not the least is the communications strategist, a role often undermined in the IMC world but one with tremendous importance.
A communications strategist’s main responsibilities include:
- Maintaining strong ties with the media
- Drafting new techniques to make communication tools more effective
- Collaborating with the marketing department, clients, advertising agencies, and other key stakeholders to develop a successful communications plan
Here are a few other roles that could fit under an IMC team, particularly when your company is much bigger:
- Public relations specialist
- Customer support specialist
- Partnership coordinator
Keep in mind that one person can take on multiple roles, and many people can take on the same role. Either way, don’t be afraid to tweak as needed.
So, you’ve brought assembled a star-studded IMC team. You can see their eyes glittering with confidence, their arms bulging with anticipation (excuse the lame joke here), ready to knock your marketing communications plan out of the park.
Should you let them off the leash?
See, your IMC team won’t hit the ground running without an elaborate structure in place.
This brings us to our next (and final) step…
Step 5: Lay Down the Structure of Your IMC Team
After knowing which team members are required to fill in what roles, it’s now time to map out the structure of your team.
There are many ways to approach the IMC team structure. Below are five of the most common structures:
- Centralized: A fully-fledged, stand-alone IMC team
- Organic: Sort of a free-for-all arrangement. No one department/person manages or coordinates marketing efforts.
- Holistic: Everyone in the company partakes in integrated marketing communications in some capacity.
- Hub and Spoke: A central IMC team working hand in hand with other departments in the organization.
- Multiple Hub and Spoke: There’s the main IMC team, then there are smaller IMC teams in different departments.
At first glance, the “Hub and Spoke” setup looks like the real deal. But like everything good in life (think: motherhood, marriage, buying a convertible), it has its own set of disadvantages.
That said, don’t be afraid to experiment with different IMC structures until you find one that works for your brand.
Honestly Though, Do You Really Need a Big Team? Introducing Welcome…the First of Its Kind IMC Solution
Pulling together an IMC team that fires on all cylinders is no joke. This job becomes even harder because integrated marketing communications, both as a profession and a discipline, is relatively new.
Now you’re scratching your head wondering: “Will I ever actualize my dream of bringing the marketing and communications tools together?”
The outright answer to this question is: Yes!
Thanks to top-of-the-shelve IMC solutions like Welcome, you can now drive integrated marketing communications consistency across every channel—without having to hire every Tom, Dick, and Harry out there.
Here’s the point: Welcome doesn’t just allow marketers to create and control their brand stories. It empowers them with the tools to collaboratively perfect those stories.
This ensures you don’t hire people into your IMC team for the sake of it. You only hire brains that you absolutely need, while Welcome does the rest.
Want to track, monitor, and oversee every communication channel without moving a muscle? Want to ensure your marketing communication is on-message and on-time?
Tired of having your brand assets scattered all over the place?