The Integrated Marketing Communications Guide: 5 Questions to Get You Started
by Andrew Millar
When you hear the term “integrated marketing communications” do your eyes start to go glassy and your thoughts fade out? While the term may seem packed with business verbiage, it’s a simple concept that, when implemented correctly, can increase sales, customer satisfaction, and company exposure. An integrated marketing communications plan is simply a way to communicate with your customers in all facets of their experience with your business. It’s marketing, sales, customer service, and overall experience in a single plan. Before starting to create an integrated marketing communications plan, use these five questions to get you started.
What is Your Message?
The first step to starting an integrated marketing communication plan is to distil your message. An effective plan highlights the message in each stage so no matter where the consumer is receiving the message, it’s cohesive. What are you truly trying to get across to your core base of customers? Are you offering the best prices? The best service? By focusing on what your current customers love about your business and spreading that message to others in all facets of your marketing plan, you can start your integrated marketing communication plan off on the right foot.
Where are You Sending Your Message?
While an integrated marketing communications plan can include any form of communication under the sun, for budgetary and sanity reasons, it’s best to stick to a handful of communication methods initially. Look at your budget and your marketing history to determine what methods will be best to start your plan. If you’ve seen an increase in customer purchases after a television commercial or see a bump in traffic to your site after an online giveaway, integrate those marketing ideas into your plan.
How Are You Training Your Staff?
It’s great to implement an integrated marketing communications plan but if your staff isn’t involved, it’s doomed to failure. A successful integrated marketing communications plan requires staff involvement. Staff needs to be aware of what message is being sent to customers as well as at what point potential customers are coming to the business. This way, staff can address their concerns and questions rather than reiterating what the customer has already heard. When implementing an integrated marketing communications plan, ensure there is staff involvement before starting a plan.
How Is it All Communicating?
Too often, an integrated marketing communication campaign falls apart when businesses focus their efforts on the marketing and communication and forget about the integration. Integrated marketing communications campaigns work because they’re synergistic – each part of the campaign benefits and strengthens the next. Before implementing an integrated plan, make sure it’s actually integrated. What is the customer experience? When they stumble on your website and sign up for your newsletter, does the guerilla marketing campaign tie into that initial message? After they see a billboard, will the customer service representative address their questions? A well planned integrated marketing communication plan should create a story for potential customers that guides them from one part of the plan to the next.
What is Your Measure of Success?
Just like any marketing plan, an integrated marketing communication plan is only as good as it proves itself to be. Enacting a plan and then ignoring it won’t optimize the benefits or save costs on the losses. Before starting an integrated communications plan, determine what will measure the plan’s overall success. It can be an increase of customers in the doors of your business or an increase of traffic through your website. Create a few measures of success to help guide your integrated marketing communications plan.