Discovering More About Integrated Marketing Communications

Integrated marketing is best described as “the management of three interconnected business drivers.” Under this business strategy, the business seamlessly optimizes its brand by identifying the unique characteristics of the brand, by training personnel and by launching an aggressive integrated marketing communications program. In order for an enterprise to succeed all three components must come together so that the success of the brand is directly proportionate to the success of the business in merging the three tiers.

The brand is usually characterized by the business model, the product designs, the organization’s culture and the external presentation of these attributes. Defining the products and services that comprise the brand and develop a strong support network is an important preliminary step in any integrated marketing program. This process is similar to determining the company’s mission statement but goes a several steps further.

The second phase of an integrated marketing program is to train all employees so that they understand the culture of the business. Businesses often rely upon their HR departments to initiate the corporate culture and to sustain this ongoing strategy until high performance, consistency and product knowledge are ingrained in the workforce.

With these two sectors in place, the business is now ready to launch its integrated marketing communications program. This multi-dimensional approach is intended to add reach, enter new marketplaces and use both business-to-business and business-consumer marketing approaches to maximize the return by expanding the customer base and increasing sales.

With more and more businesses and consumers purchasing online, the need for a strong online presence is imperative. In today’s marketplace, an online presence is more than the whimsical creation of an information site. Today, an online presence must be well planned, diverse and comprehensive.

The use of social media is one aspect of the company’s marketing policy. There are many social media outlets that can bring consumers to your site or to your brick and mortar locations. Again, the social media message must be consistent with the corporate culture and brand.

Many businesses now have presences on Internet platforms like Facebook, LinkedIn and Squidoo. These same businesses are apt to use YouTube where poignant messages can be delivered. Twitter is the fastest growing social media and should be part of every integrated marketing program.

As can be seen, the implementation of this marketing strategy will require the launching of a coordinated effort that will require ongoing management. Whatever characteristics the integrated communication program utilizes must remain consistent with stages one and two of your comprehensive marketing strategy.

Internal Marketing Communication

Internal marketing communication is an important aspect of the marketing campaign. You will want to keep this flowing at all times to get the focus on your business. There are many different ways to communicate with your customers, but we would like to focus on 3 strong ways here.

1) Emails– Direct emails are a powerful way to communicate with your customers. The information is delivered to a list of individuals who have already shown an interested in what you are marketing. They will be highly receptive to the information that you send. Update your list frequently to capture the attention of your internal clients.

2) Blogs– You have lots of room to talk about anything you like. You will have an audience who is interested in what you have to say. Communicating about your business and your products is a natural part of blogging. Offer good information in your posts and you will have the opportunity to show off what you do as well.

3) Auto Responders– Once someone is inside your sales funnel you will want to stay in constant communications with them. You can use an auto responder to make this happen. You have the opportunity to send out messages with the content you want and at the frequency you determine. This is a powerful way to communicate not only with your new leads, but your partners as well.

The trick to internal marketing communication is to target you audience and stay consistent. You will want to offer the right information to them to keep them coming back. Take the time to learn about your options for communication and you will go far. A solid marketing and mentoring program can help you figure out what works best for you and your business.

Marketing Communications Audit – What is It, and Why is it Necessary?

As a product manager or marketing director a key responsibility is to develop and implement an effective marketing communications strategy. One place to start is with a communications audit.

An audit is a review of all current marketing and other communications vehicles to answer some basic questions:

o What are we saying about our company/brand/products?
o Is the message consistent across formats and audiences?
o How are we presenting the information?
o Who are we talking to?

The results of the audit should help clarify the communications strategy and provide a framework for future projects.

The simplest way to begin is to gather all existing materials and lay them out on a big conference table. Materials would include product and corporate brochures, product packaging, business cards and letterhead, annual reports, advertisements, direct mail pieces, investor kits, and website screen shots. Even things like internal memos, press releases, promotional items, company t-shirts or hats, and PowerPoint templates should be included.

Once everything is laid out, some basic questions can be answered. First, do all the items look like they are from the same company? Is there some consistency in layout, use of color, and fonts?

Second, is the company positioning clear? In other words, if you asked several people to review a number of your communications and tell you what they perceived to be the company mission or value offering, would the answers be consistent? Or would it depend on what pieces were reviewed?

Third, what are the key messages that are being communicated? Are those messages coherent, or fragmented? Are the messages consistent with your intent?

For many businesses, the answers to these questions are not encouraging. Fragmentation and inconsistency are common, especially as an organization grows and as communications responsibility becomes dispersed.

Unless there is someone within the company charged with maintaining an overall vision, and empowered to enforce guidelines and standards, it is often unavoidable that the communications water gets muddied.

Some may say, “So what?” There is a feeling that as long as each entity within the firm is communicating effectively with its own constituency, there shouldn’t be a problem except for marketing purists. The fallacy with this argument becomes obvious once you begin talking to various stakeholders within the organization, as well as customers and investors who are either getting the wrong message, or aren’t sure about what the message is in the first place.

The communications audit is really only the first step. Understanding the impact your messages are having requires research, and developing a process for ongoing review and implementation integrity requires dedication.

It’s one thing to give lip service to communications consistency, but quite another to put in place the means to make it happen. By regularly reviewing your communication strategy, and evaluating your materials to ensure they are meeting your goals, you will improve message clarity and better meet the needs of your customers, investors, and employees.