An integrated marketing plan allows you to create a unified and seamless communication experience for your customers and potential customers. This seamless communication experience will come from a variety of marketing channels working together, including advertising, PR, direct marketing, digital marketing, social media and customer service. In order to establish an effective plan, you must have self-awareness, discipline and consistency. Here are five steps to getting it right.
1. Know Your Brand
It's important for you to understand how your business creates value, how it stands out in the market and how your customers perceive your company. As marketing guru Bruce Turkel explains in an interview for the National Center for the Middle Market, "[a] brand is what people think about you when you're not around, what they say about you after you've left the room. Your brand is already there, already exists in plain sight. It's your history, it's your customer's experience with you, it's what you tell your employees, it's the way your employees feel about what they do. It takes some self-reflection and work to uncover it." Your defined brand is what engages your customers and future customers, your current employees and potential employees.
2. Know Your Target Customers
Communication is always a two-way street. In order to connect with your target customers, you must know everything you can about the other side of that "conversation." As Chron suggests, you can create customer profiles that embrace their demographics, psychological attitudes, buying behaviors, preferred communication channels and interests.
3. Tell a "Story of Why"
Ask yourself: Why does your business exist and how did you begin? Customers and employees become engaged with stories, and so you should try to craft stories that express your values and motivations. As Bruce Turkel puts it, businesses "need to have a 'story of why.'" What do you do and why do you matter? Customers will seek out the answers to these questions.
4. Adapt Your Messages and Content Across Channels
As you develop your marketing messaging, be sure to think about the values and motivations that drive you and your target customers, and then adapt your message to fit across today's multichannel landscape. As marketer Andrew Stanten says in CIO, "every piece of content you develop — a blog post, case study or video — [should be able to be] used in as many places as possible." For example, you could craft a case study and "use it in your newsletter; post an excerpt on LinkedIn; tweet a series of informational nuggets from the piece." This sort of integrated marketing plan can be extremely effective.
5. Measure and Iterate
Marketing is a learning process, and measuring results will help you learn. Ask yourself: What channels are best for reaching your target customers and what kind of content (videos vs. blog posts, etc.) resonates best with them? Once you measure the results, you can focus on doing more of what works.
Once you have an integrated marketing plan in place, you can let the market know about your business and why they should value it. Such clear, consistent and mission-driven messaging will help you recruit both new customers and new employees, enhancing your value proposition as a place to work.