Integrated Marketing – The Engine That Powers Your Business
I am looking for the silver bullet. I have heard this so many times, it has worked its way into my lexicon of phrases. I have used it way too often when describing the search for a perfect solution to a problem, yet when talking to prospective marketing customers, it is the one phrase that makes the hair on the back of my neck stand up.
The scenario is always the same. “My business is stagnant. The phones are not ringing. Foot traffic is down. My previous marketing did not work. I am looking for the silver bullet.”
So what is the issue?
This statement, 99% of the time translates to “I am looking for one thing that I can do to get my business going”. The reality is there is rarely only “one” thing and when marketers start to talk about doing other things, the customer hears “more money” and the truth is they are right.
So how do we address the central problem of doing something that works and at the same time keeps expenses under control?
The answer is build a system. The problem with the silver bullet is that once you fire it, you can’t get it back, and if you miss, it is a wasted resource. Systems consist of separate components that operate together. In a system, if one component is not operating at optimum efficiency then the other components can, more often than not, make up or at the very least mitigate the effect of the lagging part, until conditions change and the underperforming part starts performing again.
In marketing, this can often be accomplished by not spending more money, but by simply allocating resources differently. Systems can be implemented into single media sources or across multiple platforms, but the key is to make sure that these five principles are followed.
We always hear about the million dollar commercials during the “big game”. If your marketing budget is one million dollars for the year, spending it all on one commercial would be incredibly risky and unwise. Yet we see this all the time with businesses doing a single mail drop or investing tens of thousands of dollars in a website. The more prudent thing would be to spread the money out and pay for marketing that covers the entire year. Putting all your efforts into a single commercial, mail drop or website launch might give you a big shot in the arm, but what happens if your mail is hampered by bad weather or your commercial is lost in the hoopla over a big news event.
Target the right audience
Take the time to really get to know your target audience and make sure your message is relevant to them. Finding this out can be as easy as doing a focus group or utilizing a survey. Extra time spent here means less money spent long term, because you are reaching more of a specific demographic that has a need for your product.
Reinforce each other
Make sure each element of your marketing campaign is set up to drive traffic to your ultimate target, whether your target is a website (for purchases, email newsletter subscriptions, blog RSS subscriptions, etc.) or a social network like Facebook or Twitter (for engagement), or a call center (for sales and service), your marketing must provide easy fulfillment and be designed to capture critical data. Integrated marketing communication strategies through multiple communications reinforces each platform in your system.
The most important aspect of any campaign, especially integrated campaigns, is putting the proper analytics and attribution methods in place to really understand how you're achieving conversions and/or results. Using platforms that use or generate unique tracking methods allows you to receive data back from each platform to help you further define success.
Remember, you are selling to people
Step back and consider your process from the customer's perspective. How do customers develop their perspective on the companies and brands with which they do business? Do marketing campaigns or individual interactions with a company have a bigger impact on how customers and prospects perceive your company? Studies show that 90% of the buying process is completed by the consumer before engaging with the business, so I think that's a pretty easy question to answer. And, correct me if I'm wrong, but marketing is responsible for how the company is perceived. Make it easy for your target customer to understand what you are selling, easy to engage with your business, and easy to do business with you.
The systems you put in place will be the engine that powers your long term success and makes your business less susceptible to external forces you cannot foresee and take control of your marketing.