Getting Up Close and Integrated – Why Constituting a Fully Integrated Marketing Plan Matters
“In a participatory world, new techniques need to be developed, which work with the powers of collaboration, rather than the outdated concept of command and control.”
– Ray Poynter & Graeme Lawrence
There is no doubt that businesses are getting smarter in how they market their brands to consumers, but only six percent of B2B leaders feel they can prove their return on investment (ROI). With many options available for companies to drive and quantify ROI, and businesses finding ways to become better marketers, why do the vast majority see very limited results in their marketing efforts? The missing piece to the puzzle is implementing an integrated marketing plan into the overall approach to brand marketing and effectively communicating a strong brand message throughout.
Utilizing one marketing tactic or one media campaign may produce results, but according to the 2013 B2B Leaders report, 93 percent of businesses say the lack of ROI makes justifying future investments very difficult. The key is combining the available tools into a single marketing plan that will create synergy and dramatically increase a brand’s success rate.
Picture it like this. “If you’ve ever heard a good piano player, you know that a solo act can create beautiful music, pleasing everyone within earshot. Now, combine the piano with a guitar, vocalist, saxophone, and a few other pieces and suddenly you have a richer, more powerful sound.” –Inc.
The Method Behind The Madness
Through all of the stages and changes in the way humans have exchanged messages since the beginning of time, one element still stands – the simple act of communicating. Effective communication results in intentional or unintentional idea sharing between parties, hence the ‘Business to Consumer’ relationship. A recent DMA analysis showed 27.4 percent of businesses found that integration was most effective when messaging was incorporated across all channels. Creating a cohesive funnel for your brand’s messaging across platforms will not only help build a stronger brand, but can also lead to more opportunities with existing and potential clients.
Consequently, when messaging is not streamlined throughout the plan, businesses have no idea of the impact their marketing efforts have on the bottom line. If companies can’t show the impact their marketing efforts have, then consumers will most definitely not see it and ultimately lose interest in engaging with that brand.
By cultivating one integrated marketing plan, brand messages will become transparent throughout your campaigns and in turn, encourage users to become more proactive with the brand. This allows for marketers and brands can be clearly understood in the marketplace and ultimately win over new customers, in addition to garnering relationships and building the trust needed to entice responsive action across your brand’s communication platforms. Steve McKee, president of McKee Wallwork & Company and an accomplished industry writer had this to say about integrated marketing:
“Integration means communicating a consistent identity from message to message, and medium to medium, and (more importantly) delivering consistently on that identity.”
So What’s The Problem?
Surprisingly, nine out of ten marketers have attempted to integrate messaging across channels and have begun aligning their implementation as well, but few marketers feel that their integration efforts have achieved optimal results. So where are they falling short? At evok, we feel businesses should follow the three C’s of effective communication in order to properly integrate a successful and highly targeted marketing plan.
To be clear means your message has to be both powerful and inviting. Your brand’s message needs to entice users to want to interact with every marketing entity, whether it be a website, social media platform, or avenue of traditional media. How do you produce a clear message? Know the audience you’re talking to and what captures their attention. This is probably the most overlooked area of marketing, but it’s imperative to know your target audience like the back of your hand. Many times, marketers try to just blast out messages to the masses, which is ultimately damaging to the brand’s reputation as a trustworthy source for products and services. The goal is to reach consumers in moments that most influence their decisions, or what we call touch points.
Much like a funnel, consumers start with a few brands in mind that offer the same products or services, and then move through the selection process (or funnel) until they choose one brand to satisfy those needs and wants. By introducing an integrated plan with a clear, targeted audience and messaging that moves them to action, businesses can:
- Determine potential customers
- Suit your ideation to better meet the needs of the consumer
- Tailor products and services as needed
- Closely target marketing efforts to become more efficient
- Craft the appropriate messages to solidify a lasting relationship with consumers
By strategically and clearly defining a brand’s target audience, you are able to identify the touch points of consumers who are most likely to engage with the brand and become customers and even advocates. As an example, a report by The Nielsen Company found that when consumers were exposed to pharmaceutical ads both on television and online, they were 100 percent more likely to ask their doctors about them.
An important audience segment to consider is the niche market. A niche market serves the crucial function of distinguishing your brand and offering from any competitors. The more unique you are to consumers and the more specific your services become, your target audience will grow exponentially. It is truly all about grabbing the attention of the right people at the right time, just like the pharmaceutical company who reached their audience online and on television to convert these multiple touch points into increased brand awareness and sales.
If brands can effectively implement a strategic plan to target an audience and create a niche market nestled within each overarching industry, then chances are the consumer will be more apt to understand your clear messaging that speaks to them specifically, and will subsequently continue to connect with your business and build a long lasting relationship.
Once you’ve established your target audience, then it’s time to unleash your secret weapon in an integrated plan – the competitive analysis. This is a tool used to research competing brands and identify strengths and weaknesses in their businesses as well as your own. By utilizing these features within the plan, companies are able discover new ways to reach the desired target audience.
To get started, Facebook can be an excellent tool for launching your research efforts. When utilized correctly, the platform can serve as the looking glass into the brand personality and tactics of your competitors. Through diving in to the Facebook Timeline and analyzing brand content, it’s easy to glean how responsive their audience is to the messaging, and just how active and engaged the brand is as a whole. Through gaining this insight, you can outsmart your competition and win business through anticipating your audience’s wants and needs.
The competitive analysis can also be an effective tool for internal strategy. Sometimes your competition may be executing a marketing strategy well, and by using a competitive analysis alongside your integrated messaging you are able to decide if that tactic or something similar may be right for you and your audience as well.
Properly allocating a budget is another critical element in maintaining a competitive edge within the marketplace. While it’s impossible to offer a one size fits all budget breakdown without knowing specific goals and who the audience segments are, it’s of the utmost importance to keep in mind a few things while planning your brand’s budget to ensure you’re gaining share of voice within the right mediums and markets:
– Keep in mind defined objectives. This will help align the budget with the goals of your brand. A great example of a budget objective is asking yourself what you’re looking to achieve through marketing efforts in the upcoming fiscal year.
– Know the action you’re asking your audience to take, and consider which mediums are most appropriate. As an example, if you’re a restaurant owner, you may be looking to persuade customers into stopping by and grabbing quick service dinner on their way home from work. An effective way to capitalize on that opportunity is to allocate dollars towards radio.
– Investigate where your audience spends the most time and utilize this as your ‘home field advantage’ by meeting the audience where they’re most comfortable.
Conceptualizing the cohesive messaging makes it easier for consumers to identify with the brand. A successful way to conceptualize your integrated marketing plan is to conduct a SWOT analysis. This practice gives insight into questions like who are you, where do you belong within the marketplace, and what makes you stronger or weaker than your competition?
The purpose for analyzing your company’s Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats is to carefully identify Unique Selling Points (USP). Focusing on your audience internally will help dissect the strengths and weaknesses within the business. For example, if one prospective consumer is a small independent laundry cleaning service who provides services only to a specific area, a strength may be the size of the business since smaller companies have the ability to provide an intimate customer service experience. A weakness may be that it will be harder to compete as a leader within the larger area of scope.
In a 2013 SWOT analysis for Apple, the company found that one of their biggest weaknesses for the year is a decrease in market share. But by incorporating this SWOT within the plan, Apple was able to find that one of their largest opportunities was the strong growth in the mobile advertising market. By incorporating this feature into their annual marketing plan, Apple was able to combat what could have been a loss with an area of their business that proved to be a strength and USP.
There is also a unique messaging component of a SWOT which is key to successfully constituting a integrated marketing plan. Once the analysis has been finalized, your audience will have a better understanding of what messaging needs to be top-of-mind and if there are specific tactics that need to be put in place within the plan to showcase that messaging.
“The right integrated marketer has… the flexibility to deal with ambiguity and uncertainty.”
– Dana Wade
Through strategic and effective communication, the consumer will be able to easily identify what a brand’s unified messaging is, engage with all marketing channels, and essentially understand the business and try the service or product. By implementing an integrated marketing plan, your audience will see the value in your unique approach and in turn you’ll see an increase in ROI. The three C’s to effective communication should serve as your overarching theme of your 2014 marketing plan. Within, the plan should include crucial components such as defining the brand’s target audience, leveraging your competitive analysis to help discover new ways to reach an audience, properly allocating the annual budget and performing a SWOT analysis to stay on top of the competitive and internal landscape.