Think quick: how many marketing channels are your company active in? And are they the right ones?
If you can answer these questions off the top of your head, you’re ahead of a lot of marketers. Today’s marketing environment is growing more complicated by the day — every hour it seems like a new channel pops up, offering a new way to reach potential customers. It’s enough to make you dizzy.
But no worries…this is where integrated marketing communications comes in. Integrated marketing communications is a simple concept: it means having a consistent branding message and marketing strategy across all of your various marketing channels, so whether a customer comes across you in the social media space or in a print ad, they’ll instantly be able to say, “Oh yeah, I know this company. I get it.”
It sounds easy, but we know from experience that it gets complicated quick when it comes down to slicing up the budget and deciding where to allocate limited resources. Here are 7 essential tips to make your integrated marketing communications campaign a success.
1. Know your audience. This is where it all begins. Effective marketing communications begins with a thorough understanding of your audience and where they live. Some marketers create a fictional persona of their target customer. Others conduct market research to better understand the buying patterns of their target audience. Whatever you do, it’s essential to first understand who you’re selling to and how to reach them.
2. Nail down your brand story. Once you’ve figured out who your customers are, figure out who you are exactly. Okay, so we’re kidding a little bit, but this is why Next-Mark starts our new clients with a strategic messaging session. Effective brands are built around brand stories that convey important characteristics of the brand. Whether it’s dependability, customer service, quality, fun…whatever your brand story is, make sure you know it.
3. Align your marketing communications with sales. This step is too often overlooked, but effective marketing campaigns of any type aren’t built around impressions or click-through rates. They are built around conversions to sales. Early in the process, make sure the goals of your marketing strategy and the hand-off process to sales is clearly defined. Too many companies lose valuable leads during this critical hand-off.
4. Concentrate on what works. You’ve heard the saying that the jack-of-all-trades is the master of none…this applies to integrated marketing campaigns. Now that you know where your audience is, focus on reaching them through these channels. If your technology audience is very active on Twitter but not on Facebook, then it makes no sense to pour resources into building a Facebook presence. If your industry gathers every year for a massive trade show, make sure you’re there and that it’s supported by aggressive efforts in other channels. Whether it’s conventional advertising, digital advertising, social media, outbound phone calls, direct mail, or trade shows, focus on the most effective sales channels.
5. Analytics, analytics, analytics! But how will you know what the most effective sales channels are? With analytics, of course! Any marketing campaign is only as good as its ROI (return on investment). It is essential that you track every facet of your integrated marketing campaigns-not just the sexy metrics that marketers love so much like impressions and click-throughs. A good ROI program will map engagement with a campaign forward to lead generation and then ultimately sales. This can be a tall order, but good data is the beating heart of modern marketing.
6. Adjust when necessary. Your branding is consistent, your marketing communications pieces are complete, and multiple campaigns are rolling forward in various channels. Everything is perfect…except when it’s not. Even the tightest campaigns rarely come out of the gate flawlessly. Use your analytics to improve, shifting resources toward channels that work while stepping back from channels that need adjusting.
7. Respond to your customers. It used to be that marketing communications was a one-way conversation: you put a message out there, and people either responded or they didn’t. Those days are long gone. Today, customers and the public are engaged in real-time feedback with each other and with companies round the clock. Pay attention to these conversations and make your presence felt! Don’t be afraid to respond to negative feedback on a campaign. Reward your loyal customers with recognition. You never know when something as simple as a re-tweet can land a sale!
Integrated marketing communications is more than slapping your logo on related marketing pieces. It’s a mindset that involves really getting into your customers’ brains, finding creative ways to reach them wherever they are, and then engaging with them as real people, not just prospective sales.