It should be clear from my recent series of posts that integrated marketing, as previously defined, has a lot of potential but has failed to live up to it because campaigns don’t always integrate multiple tactics with a consistent message, strategy and look throughout the campaign. However, combining tactics in this way is still one of the strengths of integrated marketing. It just needs to be done better but I also don’t think that it’s enough.
That’s why the new integrated marketing, or integrated3 marketing, that I outlined in my last post highlighted two key components that traditional integrated marketing does not. One is to focus on the customer and the other is to be ongoing and follow through from launch to customer and then repeat.
And, there’s no better way in my opinion to address both of these shortcomings than to tie everything back to the sales funnel. That’s why my approach for the new integrated marketing has the sales funnel front and center. I’m not going to define the sales funnel stages again here as I’ve done that before and you need to make it work for your company and be in total alignment with sales on it.
For this post, I want to look at each of the steps I’ve outlined for integrated marketing so you have a better understanding of what needs to be done:
- Launch product – This is where you announce your solution to your target market. It’s the first step but not the last. You need to combine many different tactics but make sure they are built on a strong foundation of simple, differentiated messaging, specific identification of your target audience and an overall strategy.
- Get found – If you build the greatest product, that does not mean your customers will just come. At the same time, the best product launch ever will not be successful if ongoing initiatives are not done to ensure you get found. This step is often done once but then forgotten. It needs to be an ongoing process.
- Nurture leads – But getting found is not enough either. Once found, you need to continue to nurture the prospects because they may not be ready to buy right away. Too often leads are thrown away when they are not interested or don’t respond the first time you reach out. Your existing prospects are your best source for new customers.
- Support sales – This needs to be done across all stages of the funnel but once you’ve identified a marketing qualified lead (MQL) you need to arm the sales team with tools that help them more the prospect to sales-qualified lead (SQL) and then ultimately to close. Providing the right content that speaks to your target audience is absolutely critical.
- Cultivate references – At some point in the sales cycle, a prospect will ask who else is using your solution and look for other forms of validation. That’s why references are key and you need to cherish your customers and ensure they will act as references. This is crucial at all times but especially when you are just starting out.
- Leverage referrals – But even better than acting as a reference is when customer refers other prospects to you. What better way to start a conversation than through a warm introduction from someone that is already using and loves your product. Once you are at this stage, then you’ve made it.
- Build new features – It’s easier and cheaper to sell to your existing customers than to find a new one. This is well-understood but not always done and rarely is an installed-base program run by marketing. You need to promote new features to your existing customers too so they upgrade and/or renew and remain a customer.
But the new integrated marketing is not just about walking through all these steps. In the second part of the approach I’ll look at what your objective should be at each stage. In other follow-on posts, I’ll look at how certain tactics map into this approach so stay tuned over the next few weeks…
In the meantime, let me know your thoughts on this new approach to integrated marketing in the comments below or via Twitter.