13.10 Putting It Together: Promotion: Integrated Marketing Communication (IMC)

The readings in this module pulled apart the different pieces of integrated marketing communication to help you understand the role each one plays in creating and executing an effective marketing campaign.  From small-scale and simple promotional programs to massive and complex undertakings, the same basic building blocks are required: target audience, message, strategy, promotional mix, budget, action plan, measurement.  That’s the IMC recipe.

Now that you’ve spent time learning more about that recipe, let’s go back to where we started with IMC. In the “Why It Matters” section introducing this module, we asked you to watch videos about two very different and successful IMC campaigns. Before we wrap up our discussion of IMC, take a moment to watch the American Express video again. This time, see if you can pick out the ingredients in the recipe:

You can view the transcript for “38. AMERICAN EXPRESS OPEN “Small Business Gets An Official Day”” here (opens in new window).

Video Take Two: American Express Small Business Shopping Day Campaign

The Recipe

  • Goal: Generate more customers for small businesses by establishing “Small Business Saturday” (SBS) as a fixture in the annual U.S. holiday shopping season
  • Target Audience: 1) small business owners, 2) American consumers and 3) public officials
  • Message: Make “Small Business Saturday” a part of your holiday tradition. Shop small!
  • Strategy: Put American Express’s small business customers at the center of a marketing campaign. Use a three-prong approach, mobilizing three different stakeholder groups needed to make the idea a reality: 1) get small businesses to participate by providing promotional tools and publicity; 2) get public officials to endorse SBS and speak about it publicly; 3) get consumers to participate by shopping at small businesses on SBS (year over year).
  • Promotional Mix: Advertising, digital marketing (including Web, social media, content), public relations, sales promotion, including interactive elements with each target audience. Marketing activity for small business owners centered on a digital toolkit for them to promote SBS locally: badge-style logo, posters, social media marketing tools, a video ad-making tool, a Facebook page-builder tool, and an offer to launch online deals through FourSquare. Outreach to public officials was a full-scale public relations effort, contacting local, statewide, and national public officials to inform them about SBS and ask them to lend public support to the effort. A U.S. Senate resolution made Small Business Saturday an officially recognized day, and all this PR generated lots of news stories. To reach consumers, American Express used advertising on social media, as well as paid media placement for SBS on social channels such as Facebook, Twitter, FourSquare. It invested in consumer-focused social media and Web campaigns, inviting people to join an online “pledge” to shop make a purchase at a small business on Small Business Saturday.
  • Budget: American Express has not disclosed how much it spent on the campaign, but its continued support for SBS in subsequent years suggests it was a worthwhile investment.
  • Action Plan: Detailed action plans for each element of the campaign aren’t available, but the video did clarify the careful sequencing of the campaign’s outreach to each target audience: 1) get businesses on board, 2) get public officials on board, 3) get consumers on board. With each step it made Small Business Saturday more real.
  • Measurement: More than 500,000 small business owners participated, and many owners reported higher traffic and sales. More than 100 million Americans shopped in small businesses across the country. Communities in a majority of U.S. states supported the effort. On the day of the first Small Business Saturday, it was a top-10 trending topic on Twitter, and by the second year it had garnered 2.7 million “likes” on Facebook, more than double the first year. For American Express, card transactions were up 23 percent on Small Business Saturday 2011.[1]

With this campaign, American Express used IMC tools to not only reach its target audiences with a great message but also to get them to take action. In fact, stimulating action was essential. If any target audience–the small business owners, public officials, or consumers–failed to act, Small Business Saturday would have flopped! Recognizing how essential “action” was to this campaign, American Express marketers make expert use of interactive digital and social media to engage each of its target audiences and help the campaign take off.

Using IMC to Inspire and Provoke

Small Business Saturday and other IMC campaigns discussed in this module provide a variety of great and creative examples for how to promote products, services, events, and organizations. You should recognize that IMC can also be a powerful tool for promoting ideas. This final video features a campaign by Amnesty International, a nonprofit organization, aiming to “wake up” the inner human rights activist inside each of us by creating provocative situations that cause people to step up and defend human rights, even in an economically stable, democratic society.

As you watch this video, look for the IMC recipe it follows to achieve its goals.

You can view the transcript for “Amnesty: Wake up, humans!” here (opens in new window).


  1. Neisser, D. (2012, November 20). Myth busting with small business Saturday. Marketing Daily. http://www.mediapost.com/publications/article/187192/myth-busting-with-small-business-saturday.html

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Introduction to Marketing II (MKTG 2005) by NSCC and Lumen Learning is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

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