Now that you know what integrated marketing is all about - and understand its key benefits - you’re fired up and excited to launch your campaign. But hold that thought: before you begin composing so much as one single Tweet, you need to channel that enthusiasm into a winning strategy.
A marketing campaign without a strategy is like a football team without a formation: you might be able to pass a ball around, but you’re never going to win a game. Having a solid strategy in place before kick-off will help focus and frame your campaign, ensuring every shot is on target.
As we’re getting into the nitty gritty, we’d suggest you document each of these elements. Some will take longer than others to answer, many will be fluid, others may not be immediately obvious, but thinking about and documenting these points will form a solid foundation on which to build an integrated marketing campaign.
So what are the most important elements to include in your strategy?
Alternatively known as message, story, USP, or pull - your mission is the centre of your campaign, even your business. Just as everything begins here, every action will also refer back to it. Whatever you call it, what you do - and how you differentiate - will inform your entire operation, from research to evaluation and all the bits in between.
Creating a strong brand mission is about combining your value proposition with powerful emotional appeal. As marketing expert Seth Godin explains: “marketing is no longer about the stuff you make, but about the stories you tell”. Just look at IKEA’s brand promise: instead of focusing on their physical products, their story sells the ideal of “making everyday life better”.
To get to the heart of your brand’s mission, ask: what do we do? How, why, and for whom do we do it? What are the values and benefits that transcend our function or features?
Don’t simply ask yourself as the business owner, ask your employees and customers too. Ask how they’d describe your business to others. What do they think you do? What do they think you stand for? The answers will give you valuable insight and inspiration while constructing the brand mission.
Knowing your audience inside out - and possibly upside down - is vital to any successful integrated marketing campaign. Knowledge enables you to create tailored content that will delight and motivate, plus understand how and when to best deliver this content.
Structure the research process with an audience persona: layers of information fleshed out with three-dimensional behavioural characteristics. The result? A workable human example that the whole team can use to keep messaging, tone, and visuals on-point throughout.
Here are some of the things to include:
The basics: age, sex, job title, location
Positive drivers: what motivates their action, and fires their pistons? What are their goals, inspirations, dreams?
Negative drivers: what are their challenges, fears, concerns, or turn-offs?
Key attributes: are they time-rich, cash-poor or the other way round?
Social: what do they do in their spare time? What do they read, watch, or listen to? How active are they on social media?
Next, let’s delve a little deeper into how you might curate the information.
This can be split into two separate forms: qualitative and quantitative. It might sound old-school in our data-rich marketing world, but a customer survey is still one of the best ways to effectively canvas customer opinion and insight. They require an understanding of effective questioning to ensure you elicit unbiased responses - think open questions rather than closed multiple choice - but can be administered very easily through programs like SurveyMonkey.
On the qualitative front, pick up the phone and speak to your customers directly. Don’t speak to anyone and everyone, pick your best clients - the ones with the best impression of you - and speak to them directly. Find out what they think of you, find out their first impressions, find out the problems you solve for them, that kind of thing.
At the same time, try and get a feel for what their days look like.What time do they wake up? How do they get to work? What do they read? What social media channels are they on? What newsletters do they subscribe to? The more insight you can get into their lives, the more focused your integrated market efforts will be.
Talk to other departments.
As well as speaking to clients, ask your sales team what they think makes a great lead. It will draw out some great behavioural insight. Don’t forget that other business functions - customer service, for example - hold a veritable treasure trove of customer insight, including frequently asked questions and common pain-points.
Use the tracking and analytic tools at your disposal to draw conclusions that will inform your marketing strategy. What search terms are people using to arrive at your website? What are your most popular blog posts, and what content flopped? Look closely at what themes can be extrapolated and used to hone your marketing strategy.
If you don’t know where the goalposts are, how to score, or what constitutes ‘winning’ before you begin, actions lose their potency and your campaign will lack cohesion.
A simple way to ensure your goals are effective is by following the SMART framework:
Specific: Save the motivational battle cries for team-building - strategic goals should be focused and tangible.
Measureable: For a goal to be effective, it needs to be quantifiable.
Actionable: Are there clear steps you can take to achieve your goals?
Realistic: Avoid the marketing equivalent of an overly-optimistic New Year’s resolution, and set the bar at an attainable - yet challenging - height.
Timely: Rome wasn’t built in a day, and brand equity isn’t built overnight. Marry short-term wins with the longer term goals, and set a realistic time frame for success.
Rarely does one piece of marketing lead to a large chunk of business.The consistency, quality and focus of an ongoing integrated marketing campaign is what succeeds. Why does this matter? Because each element of the marketing mix should be judged solely on its purpose. A flood of leads is not a likely outcome from writing blogs, and expecting it is unfair on the work itself: it’s not their job.
There should be overall goals, but each element of your campaign should have its own desired outcome, and be measured as such. The point of email marketing, for instance, is to engage the readers, but also drive traffic to your site. Monitor open rates and click throughs.
Content on the other hand, should be about driving traffic to the website, and moving visitors through the purchase funnel. Monitor sessions on the website overall, organic traffic acquisition and time on site. Social media is more about awareness. Target follower growth and referral traffic from the social media channel to your website.
All marketing activity should be tied to metrics, but don’t expect more from each element than is possible.
Acquiring competitive intelligence is essential for any marketer setting their strategy: it enables you to stay ahead of the pack by identifying opportunities and threats as they arise.
Think back to all the fact-finding and scene-setting tasks you did when honing your mission and message, and replicate that for your competitors. What are they doing, and why? What are their big successes? What is their reputation? What information can you glean about their marketing strategy? Are there any mistakes you could learn from? Not just for the usual suspects, but for rising talent, and new players who may soon infringe on your space.
This should be food for thought, and hopefully you’ve been scribbling notes as you go. We urge you to assess and document all of these sections before you start any element of marketing. Trust us: the more structure and strategy you put in place up top, the better the results in the end.