Why integrating communications matters in 2018
23rd January 2018
Customers don’t think of brands in terms of digital marketing, advertising, PR or social media, so it makes sense that you shouldn’t either. Successfully integrating these communication disciplines makes sure your brand messaging is consistent and effective.
Integrated communications is not easy though. It’s especially hard for smaller organisations where there’s less resource or expertise. Here’s how you can make your 2018 business communications strategy more effective.
Find out from the senior management what the business objectives are for the year. Then plan how your marketing strategy can help achieve these goals. For instance, if the business wants to grow by 20%, understand if this is likely to happen by upselling, acquisition, market diversification or launching a new product etc. Visualise what business communication activities are most likely to support this desired goal in the year ahead.
Aligning the marketing strategy with business objectives may sound obvious, but it’s surprising how often the previous year’s marketing strategy gets repeated. Aligning goals brings clarity and focus to the marketing strategy.
Profile the customer
Build a profile of your ideal customer. Speak with your customer service and sales staff to find out what your customers goals and challenges are and how your product/service solves them. If you’re unsure what challenges your customers face, then create a survey and ask them. Include in the profile demographic information so that you know what media and whose opinions your customers value. Use the customer challenges as topics or themes for your business communications plan for the year ahead.
Build an integrated content map
Having put your business strategy together and identified your key customers you can now create a variety of content which will inform, educate and persuade customers to buy. This can include content that can be used across PR, digital marketing, social media, and advertising. Customers transition through three phases before buying: awareness, consideration and decision making. Using the customer challenges you have identified, envisage what content you can produce for each phase. For the awareness phase try to come up with ideas for content that are eye-catching, short and informative. For instance, an infographic, tips articles, a short advert or quote. The goal here is to reach your customer and impress on them that your product/service is a possible solution to their problem.
For the consideration and decision making phases you are looking to convert leads. This is where you can use elements of the marketing mix (price, product, promotion, placement) to communicate what is special and unique about your product/service. This type of content is typically longer to consume, more detailed and authoritative than the first phase. It’s vital that you provide evidence of the benefits that other customers have found from your brand. Content formats include case studies, white papers, and survey findings, with special offers, discounts to help turn prospects into customers.
Overlay the 2018 calendar to spot seasonal opportunities and only select content to be produced that can be repurposed in PR, digital, social, and advertising formats.
Use Automation to improve efficiency
The best integrated marketing strategies utilise automation tools to make sure they are regularly communicating with customers, not just when they publish fresh content.
Automation isn’t expensive or overly complex. Platforms like mailchimp offer basic automation for free. Consider setting up a series of emails which regularly talk to customers who have opted into your commtions over a three-month period. Plot the emails and the content they deliver to mirror the buying lifecycle. Older content could be quickly repurposed and added to email workstreams. Integrating email automation with opt-in leads captured from e-advertising on Facebook or from Gleam competitions can be a highly effective and constant stream of new business.
Automation doesn’t just apply to digital marketing. Set up Google trend and publication alerts to be kept informed on developments in your market. Understanding what and when journalists publish in your sector help you fine tune your PR outputs so that your business communications remain aligned and integrated.
Mandy Brooks, Managing Director, brookscomm