I received a LinkedIn request the other day from a good friend of mine from Bentley University, located in Waltham, MA. We graduated together and now she, Carolyn Hannus, is working at Digitas in Boston. She’s also getting her MBA at Boston University. As part of one of her classes, she told me that she needed to survey Marketing professionals with the following question, “What does integrated marketing communications mean to you?”
I felt like the question and my response was relevant for the readers of the Catalyst Marketers blog, so I posted my response below. One thing to note, if you’re a small business owner, don’t get scared off by the marketing jargon, “Integrated Marketing Communications”. I break it down below and chances are, you’re already doing it in one form or another.
For me, Integrated Marketing Communications means the all encompassing process for communicating your message, ideals, beliefs, and value proposition to your community. Your community can be filled with both customers and prospects. In order to truly make an impact with your marketing message, you must first start by outlining the goals and needs of your business. Once those have been established, you can then move on to creating strategies that align to those goals and needs. Next comes tactics. These are the vehicles by which you get your information to your community. Finally, the most critical step, one which many don’t consider, is measurement. At set periods of time throughout the year, it’s always good to take a step back and look at the numbers to see how your tactics are tracking against the goals and needs that you originally setup. If something isn’t working so well, then iterate or scrap it completely. If another tactic is truly resonating with your community, then find ways to highlight it and even enhance it. By setting up a plan, whereby you establish goals, you now have something to measure against.
A big part of my marketing efforts, and the efforts of my clients, is content marketing. Content marketing can come in many forms, like written text, video, and even audio. As part of content marketing, you want to ensure that you are educating your community and providing information that they consider valuable. That information should tie-in to your business. If you’re an organic restaurant owner, then you should be blogging about the different ingredients you use in your recipes and why they are better for your patrons. You can shoot videos of your chefs preparing different recipes in a sanitary environment. All of this information is relevant to your business, but also relevant to your target audience. By providing valuable information, you create brand loyalists who are not only going to become customers, but walking, talking, billboards for your business.
Integrated Marketing Communications is the overarching term used to describe all of the different ways you communicate with your community. Each different marketing vehicle that you use, whether it’s YouTube videos, Facebook, Twitter, Email, or Blogs, should tie into your overall plan. If you’ve setup your plan properly, then you should have goals that you can measure against. This will let you know how effective or ineffective your programs are. Either way, you’re learning something, which gives you the ability to make necessary changes. In this economy, and probably for the foreseeable future, those organizations that don’t listen to their community and constantly evolve their offerings based on their leanrings, will not survive. To ensure you don’t end up like that, it’s important to have a plan for your integrated marketing communications, check-in occasionally to see how you’re tracking against that plan, and don’t be afraid to listen to your community and make the necessary changes to satisfy them.