For most, integrated marketing is about combining a number of different tactics into a campaign. But, it’s really important to look at integrated marketing not only from the perspective of what you are doing but also why and how you do it. By taking a holistic view, you can develop a better strategy and use the right tactics at the right time in terms of where the prospect is in the sales funnel.
Clearly, some tactics can be used at various stages but the point of this framework is to give a starting point for your strategy which can then be tweaked based on your target audience and refined by reviewing the metrics you get from the campaign. Here are some key tactics for how you do the new integrated marketing at the different stages of the funnel:
- Launch “event” – For most campaigns, this is a tradeshow or other industry event which can make a lot of sense if the timing, audience and venue are right. But you can also think outside the box and do something online or just pick a specific date so that all your launch activities happen at the same time. The idea here is to make an impact in the market with your launch and that only happens with a bang not by rolling things out over a longer period of time. However, I’m not suggesting for a minute that there should not be follow-on activities too but these are covered below. Your launch will include the unveiling of your key messages in a number of formats and content that introduce your solution to the market.
- Search and social media – While I had hoped to only have one tactic per stage, these two go hand in hand and you quite likely need to do both. Depending on the study the percentage may vary, but it’s clear that the absolute vast majority of buyer journeys begin online by searching for relevant material and solutions or by checking social media and asking for advice or looking for insights. There is also an aspect of organic and paid for both which is important to factor in as organic can take time to build for both search and social so if you have the budget supplementing the organic initiatives with some paid options may make a lot of sense. The bottom line is that if you can’t be found on Google and/or social media, you quite likely will never be found.
- Lead generation – But getting found on Google or social media is not enough. You need to convert this traffic into leads by offering valuable content that the prospect is willing to give you their info for in order to download it. Educational white papers and ebooks tend to be great offers that convert. Webinars can also be a great vehicle for generating leads but before you have a list to target, you may want to do this with a third party who can bring you that initial audience. Ditto for your content, you can distribute it via social media or paid ads but it may also make a lot of sense to work with a media company that has well-known properties that target your audience to get started, if you budget allows.
- Email marketing – Many talk about email marketing being dead in the age of social media but I don’t think this could be further from the truth. I also think that lead nurturing needs email marketing to be effective as not all prospects are ready to buy from you right away but you want to build a relationship with them so they come to you when they are ready. Marketing automation makes this more powerful as you can track these interactions. And, there are clearly other ways to nurture leads on social media and through other tactics but I believe email marketing is the cornerstone.
- Sales tools – This is the one tactic that could be done at any and all stages of the sales funnel but it’s important to make sure you are creating the right content and sales tools for that stage. Once you have a sales qualified lead (SQL), the focus of these tools need to change from educational to convincing the prospect that your solution can help them solve their problem and do it better than the competition. Clearly communicating the value of your solution and differentiating it is key. At the same time, for B2B technology marketing, this content will need to go deeper and more technical as the prospects move through the funnel.
- Customer win PR – Once the prospect has selected your solution and become a customer, many in marketing move on but in many ways this is just the beginning. First off, you need to make sure that the customer is successful by helping them deploy and realize the benefits you promised. Once they are happy, then you want to write about and promote this success to others by having them do a news release or act as a reference or do a video testimonial. The list goes on but the ultimate is to have them refer other customers to you. A customer reference is the best way to build credibility in the market so work with your customers and make it worthwhile to them too.
- Customer marketing – The marketing and sales process does not end with that customer once they have deployed. There are likely ways to sell them more and help them realize even more value. Look for ways to introduce them to other products you offer or use the same product to solve other problems or find out other features they need that you can add. Installed-base marketing campaigns are often overlooked or given very few resources but it’s easier and cheaper to sell to your existing customers than it is to find new ones so don’t forget this stage.
More important than what you do and when, these tactics need to be integrated and done as part of an overall strategy with a consistent message and look. This is integrated marketing by any definition but not always done consistently in B2B or done well. But as I outlined in my definition of the new integrated marketing, it’s absolutely critical that these tactics are integrated with the sales funnel and from initial launch to when the prospect becomes a customer to really be effective.
I hope these last few posts have outlined a better framework for integrated marketing by looking at not only the what but also the why and how of each activity at each stage. I would love to hear your thoughts and feedback on this approach and what your experience has been when you implement it. I can be reach on Twitter or email.