Want to present one unified proposition across your entire marketing mix, thereby driving genuine engagement and sales? Developing successful integrated marketing communications might sound like tricky business, but the key to developing a strategy that works is understanding the difference between multiple marketing channels and truly integrated communications.
Marketing communications refers to the means in which companies convey messages about their products or services, either directly, or indirectly, to their customers.
Marketing communications are all about promoting your services or your brand, which is why they are an essential part of the marketing mix, helping you to convey your message to your target market.
Integrating your marketing communications is more than just using a number of different marketing channels, such as social media, pay per click, or email marketing for your campaigns; it’s about presenting a consistent message that weaves a complementary narrative throughout all of your channels. All platforms should work together to achieve a common goal, and not jar so as to avoid confusing prospects about your main brand message.
An important step for developing successful integrated marketing communications is to identify who your customers are. If you’re not a start-up business, it’s highly likely you already know who your target audience are; however, it’s still a good idea to review them. As an existing business, your target audience may have gradually changed (matured, changed buying behaviour, etc.) over a number of years, therefore it’s always important to monitor any behavioural shifts, including things like interests, hobbies and values.
If you want your integrated marketing communications to pay off, you have to focus on the bigger picture – your branding. As a business, your company message should be at the core of everything you do; it should inspire your employees and grab the attention of customers.
Here are a few things to think about to help you find your brands’ focus:
· What are the most compelling benefits about your brand?
· What emotions do you want your customers to experience?
· What sets your brand apart from your competitors?
· What’s important to your customers, and what are their decision factors when making a purchasing?
After deciding what your focus is, the next step is to understand what makes customers decide to buy a product or service. Most importantly though, you need to recognise why they would decide to buy from you; what do you offer that they can’t get anywhere else? Highlighting this selling point will help you to integrate your marketing communications further.
When making purchasing decisions, most customers typically follow a basic pattern, which is as follows:
· A problem (a pain point, or desire) is recognised
· They want more information on how to resolve the problem
· They come across a range of products or services that can address the problem
· They select the appropriate product or service for their need
· They identify potential suppliers and consider the overall buying experience
By really understanding the nature of customer purchasing behaviour, you have the ability to enhance your integrated marketing communications; tailoring your messages to suit the specific buying processes of your customers.
With so many messages in a saturated market, it’s crucial to make sure your company’s messages are experienced consistently across all channels in order to stand out. Therefore, before developing your strategy, you need to determine what channels will make the most impact on your customer, and whether or not your message can be clearly communicated through them.
It’s important to make sure your integrated marketing communications efforts are consistent with all sales and marketing programmes. They need to focus on your customer profiles, which will help you to assess the right time and place for delivering your company’s message.
To identify your channels, firstly consider your objectives – what do you want to achieve? Then examine your audience demographic to understand which channels said audience are most likely to be using. Finally, look at the type of activity needed within each channel to see which combination can most effectively deliver your messages.
Consistency is key to achieving better-integrated marketing communications as it plays a massive part in how customers perceive your brand. Their perception is crucial, especially as it has the ability to persuade and influence, or even deter others.
So, once you’ve identified what marketing channels you are going to focus on, it’s essential that your brand experience is cohesive and meeting customer expectations across every channel. This includes making sure your sales representatives and your service helpdesk display the same level of consistency to ensure your customer experience is fully aligned.