Integrated Marketing Communications
Many companies use a disjointed, shotgun approach for delivering marketing communications messages. Communications such as print ads, email marketing, and PPC banner ads may appear to be coming from different companies, even though the messages are originating from a single department.
There are many benefits in conducting a marketing communications program where strategic marketing message(s) are delivered via integrated media. Best practices dictate that we should have as few messages as possible in one campaign, and it takes some effort to narrow your priorities to one message. Determine what you want your marketing message to accomplish. Common goals include:
- Generate leads for increased sales
- Differentiate your product
- Establish expertise
These are legitimate goals for marketing, but each one may require a different approach. In addition, the overall vision of the company has influence over the tone of communications. Let’s review all three of these marketing messages as examples.
- Generate leads for increased sales Generating leads means identifying likely buyers out of the broad spectrum of prospects. How will you identify these prospective buyers, and how will you reach them with an offer? What will the offer consist of? You’ll need to examine the business needs of your potential clients and end users. In creating this marketing message, determine what aspects of your product’s features are mission-critical to your potential client’s success. After these features have been determined, craft a message that conveys the importance of these features to your prospect’s success.
- Product differentiation Competitive research must be completed to determine what should be emphasized that might set your product apart. Select the top 5 to 7 competitors and do an in-depth comparison of their products’ features and their key marketing messages. How does your product measure up to each? Identify areas of your offering that are superior to your competitors. Bolster these areas in your marketing message.
- Establish expertise Layers of messages can help establish your company as an expert in your marketplace. A simple message is years of service in the marketplace… a benchmark for experience. Development committees, or review by industry experts, can add credibility. Associate your company’s management team with industry organizations or think tanks. Attain features in editorial articles or industry analyst review as part of business “best practices.” Offer thought leadership articles or white papers that can be downloaded.
Integrating Your Messages into an Integrated Media Mix
How you reach your audience depends on your audience personas, which will help give you some ideas as to where the audience is likely to receive and respond to messages. You might choose to bolster lead generation through one media channel, but focus more on thought leadership in another. In fact, the goals in each media channel might be different. Shifts in advertising and media over the past couple of years have forced marketers to reevaluate their media selection strategy as part of an integrated marketing program.
Broader traditional media – television, radio, newspapers and other media for reaching a mass audience – are applicable for direct-to-consumer sales, and brand building that influences buying decisions (e.g.: Intel Inside – consumers don’t buy Intel, they buy a computer with an Intel chip in it. But use of Intel marketing influences a consumer’s purchase decision).
Your web site and printed marketing communications materials – sell sheets, brochures, etc. – should focus on delivering your chosen messages.
Despite how many marketers feel, budget is not always a concern if you have established a realistic cost per lead (CPL). With industry-standard conversion rates available for direct mail and email marketing, you should investigate the value of purchasing good direct mail and electronic mailing lists from reputable list brokers. Especially if you know your prospects’ job titles, what size company is your target, and in what region… you can narrow your activities to getting prospects to read and respond to your message. Integrate your marketing messages into these two media. Conduct tests, using the same creative in a print direct mail campaign and in an email blast campaign. Use promo codes and web landing pages to see which media works better on your audience.
If your target audience seems to respond well to electronic media such as email blasts, e-newsletters, and webinar programs, alternate these media to deliver your messages. The volume and frequency of your outbound marketing should be considerate of audience preferences, industry activities, and even regularly scheduled holidays.
Don’t disregard trade journals. Although print advertising has declined in recent years, it is still an affordable medium for delivering a creative marketing message to a B2B audience. Many of the trade journals offer email blasts to their subscribers where you can purchase an electronic banner.
Keep public relations alive! Editors and writers of trade magazines are great targets for a proactive media relations campaign. You can extend your PR reach by leveraging an online press release distribution service that supports keywords and hyperlinks. Make sure your PR activities include promotion of your industry involvement in trade shows.
Whether you choose a trade show specific to your industry, or one that is targeted to your audience’s industry, you should make the most of that investment by marketing your involvement. The expense associated with a trade show event is quite large if you don’t make the extra effort to follow up on the leads. Relationships formed by meeting a prospect in person at the show can make a much more qualified lead.
Benefits of an Integrated Marketing Program
- Focused messaging
- Targeted and defined audience
- Multi-touch point campaign supplies touch points necessary to sales conversion
- Brand impressions and brand recognition associated with specific messages
- Relevance to prospects’ needs, and their success
- Differentiation from competitors
- Multiple conversion options to establish stages of the buying process
Establish and enhance marketplace awareness and perceptions, improve lead generation, and increase closed business with integrated marketing communications.