A while back, I discussed the need for using the integrated marketing approach. This is the second part of the article.
In the previous article I discussed why many organizations are moving to the IMC approach .
So how do you ensure that your communications are consistent and integrated? First, start by developing an integrated communications plan. Include all of the marketing communications tactics that you hope to use to reach your audience. This will help you coordinate all of the communications directed at your audience so that they receive a consistent, reinforcing message. There is nothing worse in marketing communications than delivering inconsistent or conflicting messages which tends to happen when you do not use an IMC approach.
The following are the steps in developing an Integrated Marketing Communications Plan.
- Review the results of secondary and primary research, including findings from internal and stakeholder interviews,
- Review best practices and lessons learned from previous campaigns,
- Consider policies /regulations that may affect the campaign,
- Conduct an Environmental Scan i.e. PEST (political, economic, social cultural, technological),
- Conduct a SWOT Analysis (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats),
- Analyze target audience current behaviour, knowledge, attitudes and values, knowledge gap
- Positioning (positioning statement)
- Conduct a Competitive Assessment (direct, indirect, potential markets)
- Implementation skills (i.e. how will the execution of the IMC activities be conducted internally and/or externally)
· Geographic: counties, cities, census tracts, neighbourhoods, north, south, climate
· Demographic: age, life-cycle, gender, level of education, nationality, income, cultural background, religion, language, occupation, urban, rural, suburban
· Psychographics: personality, values, attitudes, interests, or lifestyles.
· Objectives must be SMART (Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic and have an assigned a Time duration)
· Objectives should be both short and long-term
· How much money will be spent on marketing communication?
· How will the money be allocated across the various IMC tactics?
· Brief statements highlighting the bottom-line message to a campaign. Also important to specify the desired action required (call-to-action)
· In some cases you may decide to segment the messages by:
o Primary and secondary target groups
o Key Stakeholders and
It is important that the approaches for messaging are pre-tested to ensure that they meet the needs of the audience and to guard against unforeseen negative reactions. In addition, they need to be assessed for their ability to deliver on the strategies and objectives developed in the creative brief.
The most involved and detailed part of the promotional planning process occurs at this stage as decisions have to be made regarding the role and importance of each IMC tool and how they coordinate with one another.
· Direct marketing/e-marketing;
· Internet and digital/on-line marketing;
· Public relations and proactive media relations;
· Event marketing and exhibit strategy;
· Publications, print /educational material;
· Strategic alliances/partnerships.
Monitoring and Evaluation:
· Gathering feedback concerning how well the IMC program is working and whether it is meeting its objectives.
· Results of the monitoring and evaluation should be used in subsequent IMC planning and strategy development
· Consider what actions need to be performed,
· Develop a detailed strategy and tactics
· Develop a critical path with time lines, responsibilities and dates for completion
· Develop detailed costs for each activity and
· Plan for hiring contractors, including creative production of products, research and testing
The growth of the integrated marketing communications movement is very likely to continue. Today’s consumers are under siege. They are inundated with communications messages from business, government and non-profit organizations. Unless your communication tools work together to consistently position your organization and convey your message, your marketing communications will likely be ineffective.
Many public sector marketers are starting to recognize and appreciate the importance of taking an IMC approach and are becoming advocates of integration. The move to integrated marketing communications also reflects an adaptation by marketers to a changing environment, particularly with respect to consumers, technology and media. Major changes are occurring in Canada, particularly with respect to media use. Many Canadians are becoming turned off by traditional advertising which is leading public sector marketers to look for alternative ways to communicate with their target audiences. The continued fragmentation of media markets and rapid growth of interactive media and online services are also creating new ways for reaching Canadians.
It is inevitable, with the focus on accountability and value for dollar that public sector marketers and advertisers who have not yet embraced the IMC approach to marketing communications will move in this direction over the next few years. With any luck, you and your organization have already made the move to this holistic approach.