Integrated marketing is not just a buzzword. It’s a necessity for success.
I see many businesses that have a siloed approach to marketing, where there is no consistency across channels. I see many others that put all of their resources into one or two channels without considering their audience. Both approaches are flawed and will hinder growth.
While many small- to medium-sized businesses feel overwhelmed by marketing — especially digital marketing — those who master thoughtful, integrated, multichannel marketing will be more successful.
So, what is integrated marketing?
Integrated marketing is a unified approach to marketing communications and may include advertising, public relations, social media, content marketing, event marketing, and sales enablement. When implemented well, it ensures messaging is consistent across all channels, offering a seamless experience for the customer. Perhaps most important, integrated marketing is proactive vs. reactive. It considers your audience, how to reach them, and how to make the greatest impact.
Integrating your marketing does not mean you need to be active on all marketing channels. Spreading your resources too thin or wasting time on initiatives that won’t reach your target market or won’t help you reach your business goals will result in failure. Instead, integrated marketing means selecting the channels that make sense for you and then ensuring your strategy is united across these channels.
Why is integrated marketing so important?
- It strengthens your brand. Consistent communication across all platforms will reinforce your message and bolsters your brand.
- People use different channels. Not every target audience, or individual in that audience, uses the same platforms for communication or research.
- Marketing channels are often interdependent. For example, your website is useless if you don’t have any traffic, so you should probably invest in driving traffic, such as starting a blog and sharing it on social media and email. Similarly, social media can provide an avenue to get more exposure and credibility from your public relations than a media placement by itself.
- It is more efficient and cost effective. Developing content is resource intensive. When you repurpose content and creative across platforms, you save money and time.
- You’ll generate more leads. More touch points with your target audience means more conversions.
How do I get started?
The first step in developing an integrated approach to your marketing is to create your strategy. This includes identifying your goals, understanding your audience, selecting the best channels to reach them, and creating a corresponding marketing and advertising plan. Here are the steps to creating your integrated marketing plan.
1. Identify your goals: Clarify your marketing goals. Are you focusing on brand awareness and lead generation? Are you launching a new product or service?
2. Understand your audience: Define your target audiences and research them. Where do they find information, what sources do they trust, and how do they prefer to communicate?
3. Define your value proposition: What do you offer that your customers want? How are you different from competitors?
4. Select your channels: Today, every business needs a website. Let me repeat — every business needs a website. For most businesses, email is also necessary (and low cost, high return). However, beyond your website, what other marketing channels should you include?
If you’re marketing a B2B product to IT professionals and CTOs, you might want to consider LinkedIn, industry PR, or industry trade shows. However, if you sell trendy clothing to people in their 20s, then you may consider Instagram and Snapchat and engaging in influencer marketing.
5. Create your plan: Now is when you start developing your creative ideas. Translate the ideas that seem viable into campaigns and plan how you will execute the campaign across each of your primary channels. Remember to consider your customer and your value proposition.
6. Track your results: Finally, you should measure the success of your campaigns and the channels you selected. These insights will help you allocate your budget and resources in the future on the channels that are most successful.