By taking an integrated approach to marketing, you can ensure that you reach your customers across different channels that are most relevant and accessible to them, both offline and online. This allows you to design parts of your marketing plan that build on each other to create a consistent story that reaches your customers throughout their day. This idea of weaving different marketing activities into a coherent story can result in increased brand awareness, familiarity, brand advocacy and purchase intent.
For example, imagine your business advertises in magazines and billboards to reach young adults. Instead of sticking to a single channel, you could opt for a more integrated approach. You could, for example, supplement your marketing efforts to include online ads on various social media platforms, or even get a shout out from social media influencers (because you know your target audience spends most of their time on social media). All these marketing efforts combined would help you reach your marketing goals faster and yield better results than taking a less integrated approach.
To make an integrated marketing strategy work, you may have to scale back on some parts of your existing plan, or come up with a whole new strategy for channels you haven't explored before. To help you realize your integrated marketing plans, you can follow these simple steps:
Step 1: Research
Spend some time researching and asking key questions, such as:
- Who are your customers?
- What are your goals? What outcome do you expect from your marketing efforts?
- How would you measure the success of your marketing activities?
- What are your constraints?
- What are the best times and most effective channels to reach your customers?
- Which social (and traditional) media channels are your customers most active on?
- Where would your customers want to hear from you? For example, will they be more receptive to your company's message on social media, or on traditional media?
- Are you able to make informed, data-backed, decisions based on your previous experiences?
Do your research; identify exactly who your target audience is, and the problem you're trying to solve for them through your products, services and/or content. Put yourself in their shoes; know their habits and expectations, and build your integrated marketing strategy around that. Think about how you would coordinate marketing messages for your customers across different channels to create a consistent and coherent story. Also keep in mind the aspects that would allow you to achieve your goals while being bounded by constraints. And lastly, remember to be consistent with your brand personality so that your audience gets a clear picture about your brand and what it stands for.
Step 2: Allocate Budget and Resources
Marketing across multiple channels means investment in terms of time and money. By creating a good investment strategy based on your research you can make informed decisions, such as, allocating budget and resources to channels most relevant and accessible to your customers.
Step 3: Develop a Plan
Any marketing activity or initiative will require energy, planning, budgeting and resources. For example, customers might start using your social media as a customer service channel, where you may need to respond in real time or risk a reputation issue. You need to be prepared for such outcomes by planning ahead and choosing the right mix of social and traditional media that work best for you and your customers.
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