One person is great at plot and their writing partner specializes in prose. Why don’t those literary geniuses team up and write the best book ever?
You know those mid-afternoon thoughts that pop unbidden into your brain? This is an actual thought I thought. Then I chewed it over some more, it makes sense why there hasn’t been a Stephen King-Kazuo Ishiguro mashup yet. They have different styles, different audiences, different goals. The final manuscript would likely be a disjointed story following characters with unclear motives and all wrapped up with a terrible ending.
Luckily, your marketing squad can make a version of this dream team a reality. Your team of dozens of creative minds can come together and make your own version of a blockbuster bestseller: a coordinated, cohesive integrated marketing strategy. As long as you agree on the style, audience, and goals, you’ll be well on your way to writing a novel with the customer as the hero of your marketing campaign and at the center of your brand story.
Integrated marketing is a channel-agnostic approach that prioritizes business outcomes and then creates a multichannel approach to achieve them. A truly integrated strategy that unites your various teams — public relations, social media, creative, content, paid media — is the best way to reach your audience wherever they are. There are more platforms than ever, and your potential new customers are scattered across all of them. Multichannel marketing is valuable because you can reach your target audience with one coordinated effort that simultaneously solidifies your brand and achieves your marketing goals.
Before you begin any integrated marketing strategy, make sure to tick these five boxes to get you started on the right foot.
1. Identify Your Why
The first step before embarking on a new marketing path is not to pinpoint what you’re trying to do, but WHY you’re trying to do it. It’s imperative to have a rock-solid reason why you’re investing the time and resources into a large-scale marketing and advertising effort. Are you raising awareness of a new product or service? Do you want to reach a new target audience? Drive a new company narrative? Only once you’ve decided on your WHY can you then start planning your desired outcomes and strategizing the route that’ll lead you to success.
When you’re building out your why, it may be helpful to analyze your content and product competitors. Feel free to draw inspiration about your competitors’ qualities that you like, but make sure your raison d’être focuses on what sets you apart.
2. Measure Everything
Shortly after you identify your why and how you’ll achieve it, the next step is to determine how you’ll measure success. You can do this through measurement planning, or the process where every campaign, tactic, and metric is directly tied to a business objective. A measurement framework connects all work to provide a comprehensive view of performance. The framework can be referred to at every stage of the planning and execution process to monitor that all internal and external teams are working toward the same goal. The visibility provided by performance marketing is key to defeating the enemy of coordinate marketing efforts: silos.
Even though you’ll have nothing to measure during the planning stages, it’s key to determine what success looks like for you. Otherwise, you’ll be in the dark about whether your integrated marketing plan is working or not. Expert performance marketers know the KPIs that ladder up to specific goals, and they consider current benchmarks and industry standards.
3. Craft an Engaging, Relevant Narrative
An integrated marketing approach spans multiple channels, and while the collateral used for each marketing channel may be different, a central narrative must unite them. Many brands often skip this essential creative step. Tagging on the same call-to-action to every blog, press release, or video end card, for example, doesn’t make for a cohesive story or leave a meaningful impression. A narrative should flow seamlessly through every asset and platform to bring your message into sharp focus, regardless of channel execution.
Creating an engaging narrative requires input from every department that’ll contribute to the effort. This calls for a brainstorm! The more the merrier. Interns have great ideas too. Empathy mapping is a helpful brainstorming activity that can get the ideas flowing. Empathy mapping allows you to get into the mindset of your audience. What does your customer or reader think, see, and feel during the day? What makes them happy? What stresses them out? How does your brand fill a gap?
4. Tailor Your Strategy to Each Platform
After you decide on your narrative, it’s time to customize that message to each platform on which that message will run. Copy and pasting won’t cut it. Every platform caters to a different audience and each platform comes with a set of expectations. What’s engaging to your LinkedIn followers will bore the Instagram crowd. The keywords you select with differ greatly whether you’re targeting branded or unbranded search efforts. Keep in mind that every platform has a different audience who are all in a different frame of mind at the receiving end of your message.
Just because you can’t copy and paste content across platforms doesn’t mean you have to start from scratch for each one. For example, if the design team creates an excellent infographic for your blog, snip small portions of it and resize it for micrographics to post on your social media channels. Another great reason why your business should opt for integrated marketing is that a coordinated effort is more cost-effective than siloed communication.
5. Cement Style Guidelines
While slight changes can occur in the midst of a campaign, something that should be set in stone from beginning to end are written and design guidelines. This extends to consistent brand colors, punctuation, tone, style, etc. The best way to keep everyone on the same page is by distributing a style guide.
Consistency is key to creating a cohesive, successful integrated marketing strategy. For your content marketers and social media managers, tone is incredibly important. Are you going for friendly and a bit cheeky with your copy or are you serious and confident? Make sure your copywriters and content editors are aligned down to the smallest punctuation mark for consistent messaging and brand voice. Observant readers may see an inconsistently capitalized tagline and might not trust your brand because of it, equating errors with apathy. When your audience isn’t distracted by the little things, they can fully appreciate the message as a whole.
One excellent example of a coordinated marketing effort is Adobe and The Hovering Art Director. Across animated and live action videos, a blog post, public relations outreach, and even an action figure, Adobe had a crystal-clear vision of their star character who reflected their playful brand and spoke directly to their audience who use the product. The integrated campaign netted billions of impressions and thousands of engagements.
Integrate Your Efforts to Achieve Your Goals
The integrated marketing strategy planning process requires that your organization have a firm sense of self. Your strategy must complement your brand and make it shine to capture your intended audiences across platforms.
With the right management, planning, and constant communication with your most creative and strategic minds, you’ll be well on your way to achieving a successful integrated marketing strategy that can carry you across platforms. The key is to be open to new ideas, commit to them fully, and collect the important data points that’ll point you where you should go next.