In order to attract customers to your business, you're going to need to first attract their attention. And with hundreds (if not thousands) of competitors in most industries, a marketing communication strategy is your chance to outline how you plan to capture the attention of consumers and entice them to interact with you.
For anyone wondering why an integrated marketing strategy is necessary, we'll break down how to develop a marketing communication strategy that targets the consumers you want to reach and drives sales.
After all, as a business generating revenue is the end goal, right?
What is a marketing communication strategy?
In essence, the definition of a marketing communication strategy is how your business plans on conveying a particular message to your target consumer through different mediums.
Let's break down the three core elements on an integrated strategy:
- The message: What you want to say
- The target: Who are you speaking to
- The medium: What channels you are using
In order for your marketing communication strategy to be successful, all three elements must complement one another. Public Relations teams have usually been in charge of a company's marketing communication strategy since it falls under the category of Promotion in the 4Ps of marketing.
However, too often Marketing and Communication departments are viewed as two separate entities, which can create a disconnect between the message and the medium. This can create confusion — or worse, disinterest — on the part of the consumer.
You want all your messaging, branding, advertising, and sales promotions to be consistent for consumers across channels, which requires your organization's departments to work together. And aligning your team members around your integrated marketing and communications plan can help you achieve this type of collaboration.
But before your teams begin planning, it's important to define your actual business goal. Maybe your goal is to help your business create demand for its products and services, but there are others:
- Building a more world-class brand
- Raising awareness about your existing brand through PR
- Providing better customer service on social media
- Gaining a better, strategic competitive advantage to your competitors
In order to determine the successes of your integrated marketing communications strategy, you need to first set measurable goals. So, ask yourself: what are our marketing communication objectives? We've outlined the key PR metrics in our article on the KPIs That Matter and How to Track Them if you're looking for inspiration.
Why is an integrated marketing strategy important?
1. Build brand trust
From a consumer perspective, it's easier to trust a brand that speaks to them consistently. So to build trust among your audience, remember to communicate a consistent brand messaging across all of your platforms.
Hearing conflicting information or having disjointed brand experiences, doesn't sit well with audiences.
Part of your strategy may also entail reaching out to journalists to help tell your story. By leveraging the trustworthiness of particular journalists or publications you can build consumer trust through these types of positive associations.
2. Reach the right audience
From magazines to billboards, radio to social media, the list of mediums you can reach consumers today is extensive. And with so many channels and platforms available, the challenge for PR teams today is identifying the mediums that make the most sense.
Understanding your audience is an essential part of this process. Before investing in TV ads or magazine advertorials, you want to be sure that your audience watches that particular TV channel or subscribes to that magazine.
To collect this sort of information on your target audience, you'll need to conduct market research. Surveys, focus groups, and interviews are just a few ways in which you can collect these important customer insights. You can also use media analytics tools, like Meltwater, to understand your target audience's online behavior, interests and personality traits.
3. Achieve a positive ROI
Marketing communication involves getting the attention of consumers and enticing them to interact with you. But the ultimate goal isn't usually just interaction, it's a sale.
When a public relations team is crafting a strategy around a particular sales promotion, the goal is to increase sales of the product or the service. Measuring these types of traditional or digital marketing efforts has been a challenge for marketing teams in the past, but the PR and social media reporting tools available today can help you track, analyze and prove the value of your efforts in the boardroom.
Once you have delivered your brand message to the right target audience on the right channels, you should see positive results.
Siloed departments won't help your PR and Marketing departments maximize the ROI of your marketing communications strategy. Instead, businesses will need to get comfortable with integrating departments in order to have a strategic and competitive advantage in the industry.
How to use a marketing communication strategy to meet your business goals
Now that you have an understanding of the need for an integrated marketing communications strategy, let's answer the question "how do marketing communications work?".
1. Gain a better understanding of your target audience
You can't sell a product or service if you have no idea who you are selling to, and in the same breath, you can't create an effective marketing communications strategy without knowing who your target audience is. Whether it's through digital marketing, advertising, or on social media, the platforms or media you use may be different but the question of which customers you are trying to reach with your message remains the same.
Oftentimes, having an understanding of your consumers, and segmenting them into buyer personas, will inform which platform you need to communicate with them on, and how you can be strategic in delivering that message. If your service speaks to baby boomers, you might consider using direct mail or Facebook while marketing to Gen Z means sharing your message on Twitter and Instagram.
While you gain an understanding of who your audience is, it's important not to neglect your existing customer base. Keeping your current consumers is just as important as acquiring new ones. You still need to communicate and keep these consumers up to date with relevant information on your business, product updates, and incentives that you may be providing.
In essence, your marketing communications strategy needs to ensure that it provides value to both your target audience and your current consumers. Your competitors will be vying for their attention through their own digital marketing strategies and advertising, media, or public relations efforts; make sure that you stay on top of yours.
2. Creating alignment between your content and channels
We know that "content is king," which means that the content of the brand message you send to your audience is an important component of an effective integrated marketing communication strategy.
Your consumers should know what you are selling. Seems pretty obvious, right?
And, if you have done your research on who your target audience is, then you should be able to create the content of your brand message that is consistent, just like your branding, across the various platforms and channels you use to communicate with them on. You could then choose to communicate this message through a social media post, advert, email, or influencer marketing depending on your strategy.
As part of an integrated marketing strategy, understanding the content that speaks to your audience most effectively is one of the golden keys to ensuring this strategy is successful.
For example, if you are trying to generate new leads, you may want to consider content that is top-of-funnel, such as downloading ebooks, subscriptions to newsletters, or a pop-up on your website that leads to a free resource. Or, if you are looking to convert current leads into opportunities, you could engage them with customer stories or testimonials that help with their decision making. Either way, the content of your message needs to be one that speaks directly to them.
If you want to want to see how various brands have used marketing communication in their brand messaging, watch this On-Demand webinar with Monali Shah, Director of Marketing Communications at The Coca-Cola Company.
3. Allowing you to continuously communicate with customers
Now that you understand who your customer is, what platform to communicate with them on and what brand message you should deliver to them, you need to understand that an effective integrated marketing strategy is a continuous one, one that needs you, as a business, to understand what makes customers buy a product or service, and why they should come to you to meet this need. In essence, you need to continuously communicate with your customers as individuals.
This is where it's important to get familiar with the customer journey, how it never really stops but that having a plan that will meet customers at every step of the journey.
In a world that has progressively gone digital, customers aren't just looking for the next best product or service; they want an experience that accompanies them on this journey and you can achieve this through the integrated strategy that you put in place. With this in place, you help customers better receive the message you provide them, and you're better able to see the results from this.
Organizations that take the time to understand the customer journey and their decision-making process have the ability to enhance the effectiveness of their marketing communication strategy through tailoring their brand message to where their customer is on their journey.
In a nutshell: integrate, then implement
Not only does having an integrated marketing communication strategy help you to better understand your audience and brand message, but it also helps keep both of these clear in who your organization is and how to continuously speak to your audience. When marketing and communications are integrated effectively, you're better able to communicate to your audience and start seeing the results of meeting your business needs.
Want to get key insights on how to get to grips with integrated media campaigns? Access the recording to the Meltwater Digital Summit where PR meets Marketing.