Integrated Marketing Communication: A Step-by-Step Guide
Why is building a right reputation for a brand so damned important? And more importantly, why is it proving to be more difficult now than ever? Are the availability of countless communication channels a hinderance or does it help a brand? To answer these questions, and if you want to access the largest chunk of the market, and develop a truly effective brand, you need to learn about a little something called integrated marketing communications.
Integrated marketing communications is a term that’s used to refer to strategies that focus on keeping communications consistent in terms of language, messaging, imagery, and feel. An integrated marketing communications plan is about bringing all of your marketing and branding techniques together to develop a tight, seamless, and professional nature for your company. Including coverage for digital aspect like digital marketing, search engine optimization and social media marketing as your marketing strategy.
With this in mind and with an integrated approach to marketing communication, you are able to build your brand into a household name while delivering a better whole-round customer experience. Or to put it simply, integrated marketing communication can provide even small businesses the chance to make the most of their brand and marketing strategies.
So, how do you make the most of integrated marketing communications?
First of all, let’s delve into the ‘science’ of integrated marketing communications (IMC). The duo responsible for most of the literature surrounding IMC, David Pickton, and Amanda Broderick, distil the strategy of optimising your IMC into four “C’s”, these are:
1. Complementary: every element of your brand communication plan supports the others.
2. Continuity: all communications are consistent and connected.
3. Consistency: messages within your brand reinforce and support each other.
4. Coherence: all communications are logically connected.
When all of the four “C’s” are in its place, we can then figure out how to make the most of IMC in your business. In order to do this, we have broken down the ‘components’ of integrated marketing communications into three main categories.
1. Your brand message
Your branding needs to be the same across all channels, from your social media voice, to your website backstory, and your offline brochures. It is vital to remember that whatever communication you’re utilising, the same image needs to be supported on all levels. This means that no matter what is created, the fundamental experience that makes your brand unique lays at the centre of it.
2. The customer’s journey
It comes down to this: you first need to understand exactly where your customer is coming from, and where you want them to go. Deep knowledge of your customer’s journey is crucial for your personal integrated marketing communications.
3. Personalisation and relevancy
Integrated marketing communications naturally connect with personal and relevant communication solutions. If you’re targeting a particular group on social media by crafting a personalised ad, you can also ensure that wherever you direct your customers after they click on that ad speaks the same language.
Once these components are understood and implemented, you can then start on designing an integrated marketing communications plan. To provide a clearer picture, we have broken down these into four simple steps.
a. Understand your audience
As might be expected, identifying and understanding your target market is crucial to creating any successful marketing plan. There are many ways to do this. One would be to conduct a customer analysis to get a deeper look into your target market. You can also, however, build a range of buyer personas that help to inform your marketing campaigns.
b. Define your goals and identity
First of all, create a unique identity and position your brand to distinguish your product or service from the competition. This, in turn, will also help you to create a consistent “image”, from your logo, to your messaging, photography, and even colour usage. In addition, you are also able to make changes to the marketing strategies based on the goals you’re striving to achieve. Knowing your specific goals will help you to choose which communication channels you should integrate to get the best results.
c. Selecting the right channels
Ensure that your team understands exactly which voice and imagery to use with a comprehensive branding guide. Your platform will usually include social media, sales promotions, content marketing and offline advertising.
d. Review your plan
The final step would be to review your integrated communications plan carefully before you decide to put it into action. During your integrated campaigns, you’ll also need to ensure that you have methods in place to track your results. Putting the correct attribution and analytics methods in place can help you to better understand how you’re achieving results and conversions, so that you can drive-up sales, and optimise your efforts for the future.