Over the past month, I’ve looked at how integrated marketing is defined, how it needs to change to be relevant again and questioned whether it’s dead or not. I’m still not sure on this last point but before I decide whether to give up on it entirely, I wanted to summarize what I see as the key attributes of a truly integrated marketing plan.
- Develop one core message and look: I’ve talked a lot about how it’s key to have a simple, differentiated message but for an integrated marketing plan to work, that message needs to be used consistent. So it’s important to develop the right message for that audience but even more important to use it again and again throughout the campaign without any tweaks. I’ve pointed out that this is a key issue in many of the campaigns I see so it should not be surprising that it’s one of the key attributes. But it doesn’t end with just a core message, the look, images and overall tone needs to be consistent throughout as well.
- Use multiple tactics: This should also not be surprising as a key attribute. The whole notion of integrated marketing is that you’ll use multiple tactics across many disciplines. Besides pointing out the obvious, I list this because I’m not sure enough thought is put into the tactics each time a plan is developed. Many plans start with the notion of let’s develop a plan for Twitter, whereas it should be let’s develop a plan to generate demand of which Twitter is one piece. The difference may be subtle but it’s important. Even more critical, make sure your chosen tactics are where your specific audience lives (see #4 too).
- Plan for ongoing activities: I alluded to this last time as one of the key issues with many plans, especially product launches. So many of them start off with many of the attributes here but once the launch is over, they quickly fade away. I don’t remember where I saw it but there are studies that say someone must see a message 7 times before it sticks. That number probably varies depending who you talk to but it’s more than one and that’s the issue if you only do a launch without any follow-up or ongoing activities.
- Identify your specific audience: This is probably the biggest attribute that was missing from previous definitions of integrated marketing. However, many plans identify an audience that’s so broad, it’s not effective. You need to be specific about who you are targeting and develop a buyer’s persona(s) to represent that audience. For example, it’s not a broad market or multiple titles at each company but instead it’s the CIOs of financial institutions that are your specific audience.
- Create valuable content: Last week I took a break from this series to go on a rant but the reality is it’s relevant here. Content is absolutely critical to the success of any plan and campaign. However, time and time again I see more resources put into the distribution or other aspects of the plan rather than creating the content itself. Without valuable content, I can safely say the majority of campaigns will fail and quickly. You need to talk your audience in their language and help educate them on the issues or solve their problems. That will be a successful campaign whether it’s integrated or not.
This is my shortlist for a successful integrated marketing campaign. There are some other good ideas that I wanted to share by Jennifer Lonoff Schiff in an article for CIO.com and by Wendy Marx in Fast Company.
So the question for me remains, would someone that implements these 5 things above, or some of the ones in the related articles, have a successful integrated marketing campaign or is something else missing? If so, what is it? And, will integrated marketing ever live up to it’s potential? Stay tuned to find out my take.