By Christopher Crawford
One of the primary opportunities for growth and refinement in an organization is in marketing strategy – and It’s not always a matter failed marketing tactics! The problem often lies with syncing an organization’s objectives with a primary goal. To have a successful integrated strategy, one must start starts by synchronizing syncing the team.
UrbanLink Group specializes in helping companies bring their marketing tactics under direct alignment by utilizing integrated marketing communication (IMC) strategies. By adhering to the five T’s, organizations can coordinate their channels, target the right audiences at the right times, and deploy a cohesive, trackable campaign that turns customers into buyers and buyers into fans.
Familiarize yourself with our 5 T’s of integrated marketing communications to identify your marketing strengths and weaknesses. Ask yourself what you can do to create a fully aligned, integrated campaign for your organization.
First thing to tackle when developing an IMC Strategy is the target for your campaigns. Having a robust, detailed knowledge of your target audience will be key to your strategy’s deployment methods, voice characteristics, creative design, distribution technology – nearly every asset of your campaign.
Targeting comes in two parts, the first of which is determining a target buyer persona. With the aid of data collection and analysis technology, we drill into the specific characteristics of your buyer persona. Buyer Persona research identifies needs, where and what solutions are being sought out, and gathers detailed information to determine potential behaviors. Buyer Personas help to clearly align your product or service with the needs of groups and individuals who are most inclined to buy from you. Once you’ve identified your target, move on to the next phase: research.
Take the time and resources necessary to understand your target group. Ask the question: What are they consuming and how are they consuming it? This includes keywords, hashtags, revenue footprints, influencers, and social hubs. Be active and engaging in the places where your target buyer persona hangs out. Make yourself familiar in those spaces. This engagement is about discovering the eccentricities of the niche in which you’re operating.
Remember, the goal is to turn your targets into customers, customers into buyers, and buyers into fans. Fans are their own marketing engines that help drive your influence for you.
Once a target has been identified and researched, it’s time to develop your theme. A campaign’s theme unifies everything under a singular set of principles and is the specific aesthetic through which you will communicate. Every campaign begins with a “big idea,” like using basketball as a metaphor for the application of your product. Your theme is derived from this “big idea.” You can think of it like the key a song is written in, or a team’s uniform colors. All the tactics used to achieve your big idea will sport the same colors, and hum in the same key.
At ULG, we often map out our client’s campaign through guidelines that detail color pallets, fonts, design specifications, and voice and tone characteristics for messaging. Utilizing these guidelines as a touchstone keeps all the marketing tactics aligned and consistent with the theme of the campaign.
Knowing which technology to utilize comes partly from the targeting research you’ve already done but will also require its own research as you continue to develop your IMC strategy. Luckily, digital engagement and media platforms have never been more robust – but that does not mean choosing is easy.
There are two categories of technology we recommend prioritizing: development and engagement. You may already be using one or more platforms for this, but it’s still a good idea to regularly review the state of your technology for potential upgrades or blockers.
- Development – These tech platforms are used by internal teams to collaborate and share strategy, assets, and communications as campaigns are built and deployed. This may be a suite of programs like Microsoft or Google, a business CRM like HubSpot, or a supped-up messaging program like Slack – and it’s probably a combination of several of these platforms. Whatever solution(s) you chose, make sure it allows for compatibility between platforms and tracking capabilities – the importance of we’ll discuss later.
- Engagement – Engagement and delivery platforms can offer major quality of life enhancements. Posting to individual media channels is a time-intensive effort and can lead to mistimed releases, missed postings, and excessive time investment without an aggregated automation platform. Find a platform that allows simple and straightforward automation with broad compatibility between other software services.
If content is king, timing is surely queen. Tracking events and developing stories, then monitoring the traction they are get, helps build data driven content. Data driven content is an agile, real time approach to getting your campaign in front of the right people at the right time. Having a bead on your audience will help you stay tuned the metaphorical rhythm of your target’s pulse. Engaging them in a meaningful way helps your targets make sense of noise that is the digital world.
Learn the hot spots during the week when your targets are engaging with content most, on what platforms and at what time that engagement is taking place. Generally, weekday mornings show the highest engagement on social media, but every market, platform, and audience are different. Research your target to find out what will work best for your campaign, and then build a strategy around that schedule.
Building a consistent and cohesive marketing strategy is all well and good, but if you aren’t tracking the data you won’t understand your efficiency. Tracking success through data analytics informs pivots and improvements throughout each campaign. Sure, you’ll have guesses and gut instincts, but hard data must back those up.
Track important performance indicators, goals, and metrics, then correlate and aggregate the data to direct educated changes in your strategy. These metrics should align with the primary goals of your campaign and provide easily interpretable data on whether your tactics are working well together or not.
An IMC plan without data tracking is like exploring a maze without any chalk: you sort of know where you’ve been, and you have an idea about where you’re going, but you haven’t been marking your way as you move, so everything is a guess.
Developing a consistent marketing strategy which communicates persistent, relevant content to a target audience is a broad and complicated process. It requires the alignment of many different marketing branches, team members, and tools – it won’t come easily, but it’s incredibly powerful once in place.
Having a plan which follows procedural steps as the campaign develops is critical to an IMC strategy’s success. Use our five T’s of IMCs to organize your assets and create cooperating marketing tactics that you can track over time. You’ll quickly find your brand feels more cohesive and identifiable. With a unified message, you’ll soon be converting targets into customers, customers into buyers, buyers into fans who promote your product or service into the future – and that’s the real win in the end.
If your business needs an integrated marketing strategy, or you'd like to learn more about ULG's branding and marketing philosophies, let's get in touch!