For businesses small, large and anywhere in the middle, having an effective, multi-channel marketing plan is essential for success and growth. Don’t just take our word for it - 81% of marketers know that strategic planning is the most important aspect of their job, with 68% believing it’s even more crucial now than five years ago.
With customer expectations rising and communication channels expanding, businesses need to find a way to keep this strategic thinking at the centre of their marketing plans. An integrated marketing campaign does just that.
But what exactly is an integrated marketing campaign? Put simply, it’s a marketing campaign whose elements are fully aligned, unified - integrated - so that the customer receives a holistic experience, whatever the platform.
The oft-quoted 4 Cs of integrated marketing - coherence, consistency, continuity, complimentary - provide a good basis for understanding how all activities work together. An integrated campaign goes well beyond coordination on a micro level - resulting in a strategic whole that is far greater than the sum of its channel-by-channel parts.
So, what are some of the elements to think about?
At the centre of any integrated marketing campaign is brand identity - who you are, what you do, and why you do it. Your brand will guide your research, inform your messaging, and dictate the way you speak to your audience. As marketing guru Simon Sinek famously says, “People don’t buy what you do, they buy why you do it”.
Every single piece of content, collateral, and communication should reflect and reinforce your brand. Equally, a strong brand identity should be in constant alignment with all marketing messaging. Take a look at some of the greats - from the giants of Apple, to the rising likes of Airbnb - and note how their identities are seamlessly integrated into every touchpoint from website to app, to content and beyond.
The right research will impact every aspect of your campaign, telling you who your audience is, what they want from you, how they want to feel about your product or service, and how often they want to hear from you. 81% of marketers know that strategic thinking, powered by solid research, is the foundation of effective implementation.
Big Ideas: the mission and the message
The key difference between a single-use marketing campaign and one which is truly integrated is a message that deeply resonates with your audience. An integrated campaign is almost never about the what - new products alone do not motivate action. Instead, your core concept should tap into the emotions of your audience through messages of value that convey the personal benefits, not the technical features.
73% of major organisations hire someone to manage their content marketing strategy: clearly this is not always achievable for small or medium sized businesses, but it demonstrates the importance of managing content output cohesively. Sport England’s 2015 ‘This Girl Can’ campaign is a perfect illustration of powerful multi-channel synergy: women from each target segment were inspired by the emotive call to action through outdoor advertising, in-store POS, TV, social, and viral videos.
If content is the message, social media is the mouthpiece. With a third of millennials identifying social media as their preferred channel for communicating with businesses, it’s clear that any integrated marketing campaign should harness its power. The key challenge is to do so in a way that is in perfect harmony with your overarching goals. Three understood the effectiveness of hashtags to reinforce brand value, with their ‘Sorry for all the #holidayspam’ campaign, underscored by the network’s free mobile phone coverage abroad.
Cohesion must be achieved across all channels - traditional and digital. Magazines and print publications are still effective at reaching audiences, but now marketers have online, mobile, social ads, promoted posts, and PPC to extend their offerings. Most importantly, whatever channel/s are right for your business and your message, keeping the 4 C’s of integrated marketing at the forefront of your planning is key to success.
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