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How to Create an Integrated Marketing Plan

The world's most valuable brands, including Apple, Nike and Microsoft, achieved their value largely through integrated marketing. The impressions they generate through email, social media or television and magazine advertising all serve to advance one specific message and deepen the audience's understanding of the brand.

Consumers have more ways to learn about brands than ever, and marketers have more advertising/ promotion choices than in decades past, including traditional and digital options. Though integrated marketing is not always necessary, it can have several positive effects, as it:

  • Presents a clear message and builds trust through a united marketing front
  • Balances short-term sales increases with long-term brand building
  • Balances broad reach with high frequency, keeping brand at top of mind
  • Enables the brand to engage in interactive dialogues
  • Optimally leverages customer journey data
  • Saves money, since assets can be shared between channels or repurposed
  • Blends insights into the business, market, audience and product
  • Drives market penetration, share and loyalty
  • Reduces price sensitivity; customers will willingly pay more over time

Successful integrated marketing takes alignment and buy-in from sales and marketing teams, as well as touchpoints throughout the company like retail sales, teleservice and other front-line personnel. It requires top-down leadership to execute effectively. Several basic steps are involved:

  1. Identify the target. Understand the demographic and psychographic makeup of your audience Understand how they engage with products or services, their motivations and challenges (pain points) and how they consume relevant marketing information. Do they use social media and actively engage with brands by watching YouTube videos, like company pages on Facebook and subscribe to email campaigns? Or do they passively read about products and services in magazines, or get information from TV or radio advertising?
  2. Set a SMART campaign goal. "SMART" describes the most important characteristics of a goal: "specific," "measurable, "attainable," "relevant" and "time-bound." Goals should have each characteristic and may include rebranding, establishing a new positioning slogan or introducing a new product.
  3. Choose marketing channels and related goals. Select and reject channels based on their ability to reach your target audience with cost efficiency and help you reach your SMART goal. For instance, if your goal is to establish your brand as customer service oriented, social media channels can prove this proposition with unique capabilities. Direct marketing produces instant sales with highly measurable ROI, while retail sales promotions offer prospects an experiential opportunity to discover your brand.
  4. Establish consistency with your brand assets. If you market primarily through visual channels such as YouTube or television, your logos, color schemes and fonts must carry throughout. These components inform your visual identity. Similarly, your brand may carry an auditory or language identity, which is what makes having a single, recognizable spokesperson so effective, especially for brands that rely heavily on radio or XM ads. Make sure you use the same words and phrases in all communications. Everything should look and sound like it came from the same source.
  5. Track and measure performance. Determine beforehand your specific goals, such as driving people to your website, having people redeem digital coupons at your restaurant, generating calls to your customer service line or requesting additional information. Once you establish these goals, determine the proper key performance indicators (KPIs) and attribution methods needed to understand whether you are achieving the results intended.

With so many ways to succeed or fall short in marketing, the stakes have never been higher. Employers want candidates with training in integrated marketing. The best place to start is in an advanced integrated marketing program that will train you to hit the ground running.

Learn more about the University of North Carolina Wilmington's online Master of Arts in Integrated Marketing Communication program.


Sources:

CIO: 7 Ways to Create a Successful Integrated Marketing Campaign

HubSpot: The Plain-English Guide to Integrated Marketing Communications

Smart Insights: 5 Steps to Creating an Integrated Marketing Communications Campaign


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