Why An Integrated Marketing Plan is Key to Building Your Business
Every day we’re bombarded by messages. Recently my grocery store put in TVs at the checkout and in the produce department. Not only am I suppose to be getting the latest celebrity news and recipes from hot chefs but I’m also absorbing all of the product placement ads.
There’s one thing that major companies have mastered, mostly because they have the budget to do so, and that is Integrated Marketing Communications. Small businesses can do it as well, and probably even better with a targeted plan. (Now, this is a big subject and I will try to put give you the Reader’s Digest version so you get the gist….It’s definitely something I will talk about a lot!)
Why is it important? Well, long gone are the simple days of a few newspapers, 3-4 radio stations and four national TV stations. We’re in a world of hundreds of thousands of media, especially Internet, or non-traditional. For big corporations, this means they have more places to spread their broad messages, but for you it means that there is a media outlet for just about every kind of business with readers/viewers/ listeners that could be your clients.
However, PR is not enough if you want to build a company with longevity. The reason: Today’s consumers have a variety of interests and they are getting news and information from a vast number of means. Everything from door hangers, coupon mailers, advertising, PR, sales promotions, sponsorship to attendance at relative events is what is building tomorrow’s small business leaders today.
My most successful clients have understood this and while I was working on generating positive stories for them, they were off at events where they could find buyers and make an impact on the industry, offering incentives to retailers, sending out regular communications to retailers, partners and consumers and, when they had the money, advertising in key publications. Most importantly, they were out talking about their company to everyone who would listen!
When you’re putting together your marketing plan, don’t stop at one marketing element like PR. PR is wonderful but it’s even better when you can reinforce the message with alternative tools. Consider your audience and all of the of ways they might see your message, and then determine how you can maximize your marketing budget to make it all happen. (That’s right! You need to be putting money into a “marketing budget”) Maybe you hire a PR professional, or DIY, then follow up the positive media stories you receive with one year of coupon mailers with strong sales promotions, ongoing PR for interesting promotions and sponsor events where your clients will be…..and do it all over again. There are a number of variables you can use just make sure they target your audience directly to ensure high return.
Most importantly, and I’ll repeat it until everyone gets it, marketing is a LONG term process that is ongoing and never stops. Even those companies with top of mind brand awareness, like Kraft, continue to market the brand and introduce new products all to keep the company growing. That’s why a marketing plan is key to keeping all of your thoughts and ideas together and in line with how you want to market and grow your business. Then you need to build a manageable time line of marketing tactics.
Remember: In today’s world, no one gets ALL of their information from one source. You actually have to go out and find your customer. But once you unlock the formula that works you it will be worth the time you’ve spent.
Jennifer Fortney, Cascade Communications