There are more online and offline marketing channels today than ever before. Your buyers are inundated with communications across diverse and widespread media. It’s becoming increasingly more challenging to determine where to spend your marketing dollars to grow your business. Can an integrated marketing plan really help grow your business? And, how?
Businesses today with an integrated marketing communication plan are better prepared to excel in today’s market. When you plan wisely, you can get your message heard above all the noise and reach the buyers you’re seeking. We’ll explain the critical importance of having a plan, what goes into one, the success other businesses have achieved and a guide to help you get there.
5 Reasons Why an Integrated Marketing Communication Plan is Important
For any business focused on growth, an Integrated Marketing plan, also referred to as IMC, is important for your company’s success and your client’s engagement. With more than 120 marketing distribution channels in 2017, the number will only continue to climb. To keep up with opportunities, your marketing plan needs to include a multi-channel and multi-media approach. Whether your marketing team is large or small, or divided by segments, products, or channels, it is essential to roll out an integrated marketing communications plan to maintain a consistent brand message.
Here are five key benefits of leveraging an integrated marketing communications plan whether you are marketing to businesses or consumers.
1. Lowers marketing costs
Having integrated marketing communications allow your marketing campaigns to become more effective. With one message consistently sent out to buyers, you can reinforce your competitive position using fewer channels. Also, if you center content around one message, you can modify it for each channel you use, ultimately lessening your content creation cost.
2. Builds credibility
Your brand becomes more credible when you share one message across all channels. If you have a different brand message on every channel, your buyers will receive mixed messages about your services, which reduces purchases and your brand’s credibility. Recent research found that maintaining a consistent message can “improve brand perception by nearly 70%.”
3. Increases recall and purchases
The more you repeat your message across channels, the more likely your clients will remember it. The CMA found that “integrated campaigns are 31% more effective at building brands.” Another interesting recall concept is the mere exposure effect, where repetition increases liking. In fact, “having one constant message across multiple channels can improve purchase intent by as much as 90%!”
4. Reaches your audience
45% of companies now use more channels to research products or services, 70% of consumers use three channels or more and 88 percent of consumers pre-research their buys online before making a purchase either online or in-store. If you want to drive your buyers down the sales funnel, using multiple channels is important to reinforce your message on every channel they visit.
5. Improves clarity
Your buyers care about added value and what you can offer. So, it’s important to ensure that no matter what channel your buyers use, they will know exactly what your value proposition is. Clarity is also necessary with more companies looking at group decision making. For example, in 2018, 79% of companies had groups of one to six people deciding what to purchase. So, when these decision-makers regroup to discuss their research findings, you want them all to have the same understanding of your company and its message.
Seven Things You Must Include in an Integrated Marketing Communications Plan
To develop your integrated marketing communications plan, you should begin with your objective. Consider what you want to accomplish, your business goals and your expected deliverables. This will allow you to share the plan with your marketing team so that everyone is on the same page. It can also act as a road map for executing your plan and checking your progress.
When you are creating your integrated marketing communications plan, consider the following:
1. Your target audience
Understanding your buyers’ industries can help you tailor your message while showcasing your subject matter expertise, which was found to be important for 64% of B2B buyers. In general, consider who you want to target and what their preferred research channels are. As a result, you will be able to reach them more effectively.
2. Your budget
Every channel has a different cost, whether it is measured by Cost Per Click (CPC) when launching PPC social media or search engine marketing campaigns or by impressions or reach across online and offline media. Your budget will directly impact the number of channels you can invest in, your offer, the presentation of your message and how well you can manage and track your performance.
3. Competitor Analysis
Buyers will only choose your product or service if you are offering something valued that is perceived as superior to the competition. So, identifying your competitors’ offerings and their message to buyers will help you determine how to set yourself apart. Also, if your competitors are dominant in one of the main channels, then your plan may be to find some unoccupied space that you can succeed in.
4. Channels that will reach your buyers
With so many marketing channels you can’t dominate the airways across all of them. Knowing your audience, choose the channels you can cost-effectively reach with your buyers. Make sure you include channels that align with your buyer’s journey and your sales funnels if your goal is to drive more sales. Whether it is a social media platform, search engines, print, events, radio or email, invest wisely – don’t overextend your budget. Check out what your competition is doing within the same channels to see if you can outbid them. And remember, you need to drive frequency within and across channels to get your buyers to notice and respond to your message.
5. Communication Types
Across channels, you need to provide consistency, but how you package the message, needs to be in sync with the channel you are using. If it’s YouTube, you’ll need to package your message in a video, if it’s a blog, it’s text, images and infographics. If it’s a presentation your message will be in PowerPoint. To ensure it is impactful and rememberable, how to deliver your message is just as important.
6. Your unique value proposition
Once you have determined who you are targeting, your conveyed value proposition should be aligned with their needs. Ensure that your message is powerful, clear and concise so that it will attract buyers.
7. How you going to measure your success
Marketing is changing rapidly, so it is important to monitor your success. The companies and customers you are targeting will face new challenges and may prefer new channels to obtain information. Therefore, you need to be aware of these changes and decide whether you need to modify or keep your initial strategy in place. Also, you need to decide on what KPIs you want to observe, such as, sales data, number of new leads, or ROI.
How Do You Successfully Execute an Integrated Marketing Communications Plan?
Once you plan your work, it’s time to work your plan! To be successful here are 5 key elements:
Consumers spend more than a quarter of the day engaging with digital content. When making buying decisions the average customer engages with 3-5 pieces of content before talking to a sales rep. If your goal is to grow your business it is important you’re writing great content that is delivering your brand message consistently and tailored to your audience.
With your digital sales funnel, the content needs to hold the audience’s attention – be relevant, meaningful and persuasive in driving the behaviour you’re seeking at each stage in the buyers’ journey. If the goal is to drive demand and capture leads, the content needs to be of enough value for them to be willing to exchange their contact information.
With so many online properties and platforms, you need to be selective based on your target audience preferences. You don’t need to be everywhere, just where your buyers are. Finally, make sure you’re leveraging online data to personalize your marketing campaigns because personalization can increase sales by 19%.
Even with the increase in available online channels, offline marketing remains important. Offline marketing, like direct mail, print ads, demonstrations and events can effectively fill your sales pipeline. Being more tactile and interactive, some buyers may prefer offline channels. Both B2B and B2C have become very creative with experimental marketing tactics, making this an important part of their marketing strategy.
Although it’s important to have a consistent brand message, you’ll need to make sure your content is adapted or developed based on the channel your buyers are engaging in. Invest only where your customers congregate and balance your efforts with compelling formats, integration and personalization. A winning campaign has enough familiarity to tie campaign elements together but enough novelty to engage with complementary content.
Your message won’t be well-received unless it is delivered within a positive customer experience. Good customer experience is when you meet or exceed the expectations of your customers, clients and prospects at each touchpoint down the sales funnel. Every communication – every touchpoint, online and offline can impact your ability to grow your business. A positive experience builds loyalty, referrals and more sales.
Data and Measurement
Businesses that excel know the value of data. Gathering data along the way will go far in growing your business. Without continuously improving, you can’t successfully grow your business – if you don’t measure you can’t improve. Gathering rich data on your customers will help you serve up the right content at the right time across the right channel. That’s the key ingredient in a successful integrated marketing campaign.
Oracle: A Success Story
Oracle offers software and cloud technology. One of the industries that could use their technology was the banking industry. So, in 2019, Oracle launched a campaign called “Digital Bank of the Future.” In this campaign, they partnered with an agency to conduct industry-specific research and created content to share their findings. This content creation emphasized their subject matter expertise. It was shared on multiple channels online so that wherever the buyer searched, they received consistent information and content. They complimented online marketing with offline workshops making their brand message stronger and allowing them to reach a wider audience. The result? They acquired 350,000 new clients/leads and $28 million that will be received in the years to come.
Integrated marketing communication is key in the new business landscape to attract your buyers, connect online and offline channels and grow your business. Creating a powerful and unique value proposition provides a competitive advantage and allows your buyers to understand your message on any channel they engage with.