By Noelle Laury
In our consumer-centric marketing culture, content that breaks through the thousands of daily images and ads we brush by online, in print, or broadcast requires a special spark. Broad target, one-dimensional content, like a traditional product ad, is a waste of money if there’s no connection.
Consider what made you stop scrolling through your newsfeed? Or even better, what made you click through during the past week? The content that grabbed you, even for a few seconds, made a connection. Whatever it was, when you saw it signaled your brain to stop scrolling and investigate. It was likely tailored and targeted specifically for your preferences and profile.
Product-Focused vs. Consumer-Centric
Throughout my years as a marketing integrator, there has been a constant evolution of terminology, technology, and trends. The most impactful transition has been from product-focused marketing to consumer-centric marketing. Today’s consumers are empowered and collaborative with evolving conveniences and platforms in the palm of their hands (or at the sound of their voice).
Consumers are exploring, purchasing, reviewing, and contributing to the elevation or devaluation of brands. With a flick of a finger on a handheld device or a voice command through a virtual assistant, consumers are becoming brand ambassadors (or reputation disruptors depending on their experience).
"Understanding the empowerment of consumers and the migration to E-commerce is critical."
Before deciding on a marketing strategy for your product or company, it’s important to understand these trends.
- 2.05 billion people, or more than 26 percent of the world’s population, is expected to shop online in 2020
- 3.5 billion people, or approximately 45 percent of the world’s population, have smartphones
- 79 percent of smartphone users made an online purchase in the past six months
- 80 percent of shoppers used a mobile device in a brick and mortar store to assist with their buying decision
The shift to digital and E-commerce is important, but let’s not shun traditional marketing channels and tactics. Both multichannel and omnichannel marketing requires a blend and balance of digital and traditional marketing methods.
Multichannel and Omnichannel Approaches
Both approaches require the alignment of multilayer marketing communications strategies. However, the source of alignment is very different.
Multichannel works from the perspective of the company, brand, or product and moves marketing messages outward. Omnichannel is a consumer-centric approach with a customized experience based on customer preferences and behavior. This approach delivers a seamless, unified experience for each customer across all delivery channels.
Multichannel marketing delivers product-focused messaging through multiple touchpoints based on target audience data. This strategic approach begins with content creation then identifies the targets and channels for distribution. While product-focused marketing is a traditional and effective approach to product marketing, there are some challenges. Multichannel marketing leverages preset messages released on a mapped cadence to channels customary of your target audience.
Product messaging may be making impressions, but it is important to note whether there is a shift in decision making or consumer behavior. With a constant flood of marketing communications bombarding consumers from every possible channel, product-focused marketing can be easily tuned out or brushed by. Most importantly, custom campaign data that maps customer behavior may be more difficult to capture.
Technology and engagement are evolving multichannel marketing strategies to omnichannel marketing. Omnichannel Marketing is a data-driven alignment of marketing services that prioritizes customer preferences, tailors customer experiences, and follows the customer decision journey. This approach makes individual customers direct targets of customized messages at opportune times in the decision-making process.
Consumers build relationships with companies and brands much like they build relationships with people. It is less about product messaging and slogans than it is about values and reputation. Every E-commerce site prominently displays product ratings and reviews. Nearly every brand is accompanied by a plethora of comments and influencer testimonials to validate its legitimacy and trustworthiness.
Regardless of whether multichannel or omnichannel is the best fit for you, the strategy will need to be mapped in an actionable plan — if you expect fruits of your labor. A strategy laid out in an integrated marketing communications plan is labor-intensive and can take several weeks to months to build. Continue reading for key steps to get you started!
LAYING THE GROUNDWORK
Step 1: Identify Your Big Idea
Integrated marketing strategy is all about leveraging content across various (relevant) media channels to change consumer behavior.
- Do you want to increase sales?
- Does your company need more positive reviews?
- Are you launching a new brand or product?
Identifying your company’s overarching objective, or Big Idea, starts with questions like these. Whether your approach is multichannel or omnichannel, your best success will come when each tactic aims to advance on your Big Idea. Once you have identified your objective, it’s time to map your integrated approach.
Step 2: Profile Your Audience Buckets
Audience buckets are target groups that reflect various phases along the buyer decision journey. To map your audience buckets, you will need to develop a buyer persona. In contrast to the traditional target audience profile, buyer personas are focused on specific insights into your perfect customer’s psyche.
A buyer persona is a narrative that details who your ideal customer is including relevant demographics, life drivers and goals, barriers to attaining their goals, and an account of their daily life.
To personalize your buyer persona consider naming your targets like Bargain Hunter Bree, Practical Pete, or Socially Conscious Sally.
Audience buckets include free agents (strangers), friendlies (customers), and fans (ambassadors). It is important to identify and develop profiles for each bucket. The more data you have or can source to build each profile the better. Research is key to honing strategies for each audience.
Free agents have little to no exposure to you or your brand. They may have just begun exploring your solution to their problem and their decision-making journey is uncharted. The approach for engaging free agents will be very different from your engagement for friendlies and fans. Awareness campaigns that capture personal data to inform future engagement are critical at this phase.
Friendlies are sandwiched in the middle between free agents and fans. They often have untapped potential as brand ambassadors or advocates. If your sales process fails to engage this audience early on, it is a missed opportunity for repeat revenue. For example, consumer reviews are a critical component of our current consumer culture. Ultimately, this bucket can be converted to fans with the right engagement strategy.
Step 3: Map Your Media to Your Targets
With the current blurred lines between marketing and communications, it is more appropriate to address various functions in the context of media classifications, specifically, owned, earned, and paid media.
Paid media is a more traditional advertising model, as it requires payment in exchange for promotion. Whether your promotion will appear on a social channel, as a broadcast ad, or a print advertisement, paid media broadens awareness and makes an introduction with the free-agent pool.
Owned media is content that is entirely under a company’s control, from their online footprint to digital distributions, to social channels. This is how your company talks to stakeholders, customers, or patients in the healthcare industry. It’s content that’s designed by you with your messaging and intent. You post it and distribute it as you see fit to communicate with your friendlies.
Earned media is content created and distributed by your company, earning the engagement of your fans in the form of reposts, shares, and mentions. Essentially, this is when your customers, business network, or media contacts become your extend distribution channels.
We love our fans and they love us. It’s a reciprocal relationship with a delicate balance. Fans are vocal and active. They are quick to provide feedback and reviews. Your fans' collateral is paid in shares, mentions, and reposts. The strategy for your fans should include loyalty programs and crisis communication planning. A company’s misstep or mishap can and will go viral in a matter of hours if not minutes. Fans consider themselves to be in the inner circle of trust and respond favorably to complete transparency.
Step 4: Get Their Attention
It’s about creating buzz, going viral, or spreading by word of mouth your brand story and company news. With engaging and innovative content, this is one of the most effective and budget-conscious avenues for promotion.
Our brains are hardwired for storytelling.
We thrive on intrigue, irony, or emotional connection. Storytelling through creative content multiplies the value through fan engagement. Video and multimedia content continues to surge and has become a must-have for effective integrated marketing communications strategies.
Pairing content with the best delivery channel for each audience and their phase of the decision-making journey offers the greatest likelihood of moving consumers to a buying decision. For a completed decision journey, you will need to fill your marketing arsenal with content that is entertaining, educational, inspiring and convincing.
Step 5: Move Buyers Along the Decision Journey
Moving your audience from unengaged free agents to advocating fans requires a fully integrated marketing communications approach. The long-held Marketing Rule of 7 asserts that it takes seven touches with a message or exposure to a brand for a consumer to act. With the constant bombardment of content, that number may be rising but it’s a safe place to start.
It also requires internal buy-in, a budgetary commitment, and often assistance from an external marketing agency to provide additional expertise. The payoff for your company is an effective integrated marketing communications strategy that moves you closer to your Big Idea.
Pulling it all together
Regardless of whether your company or brand identifies multichannel or omnichannel marketing as the best approach to advance on your Big Idea, it must be captured in an implementable integrated marketing communications plan.
Click below to request an integrated marketing communications planning template.