Pulling It All Together

In the year (well, just about) that I’ve been writing for ClickZ, I’ve explored almost everything under the proverbial marketing sun on how to make your first marketing steps the best and most cost-effective they can possibly be. And while I’ve addressed many topics individually, isolated strategies and tools by themselves do not a marketing program make. Pulling together all the disciplines of marketing (PR, direct mail, advertising events, etc.) into one cohesive plan is a challenge that even the most established companies find difficult.

Let’s take a minute and do a quick thumbnail analysis of your current marketing efforts. Are they randomly executed projects based on opportunity or spur-of-the-moment flashes of creativity? Or are they well-orchestrated programs that build on the success of other programs over the course of time?

Don’t be embarrassed or upset if your efforts fall into the former category. Many marketing programs are shoot-from-the-hip efforts that, when assembled, create a somewhat unidentifiable picture. It’s unfortunate that many marketing disciplines operate within a silo and many who work within them don’t communicate or integrate their efforts with their departmental peers. That’s why when you hear about a great new product from a press release and go to the company’s Web site, you can’t find anything on the new product. While this is an oversimplification of the problem, I think you get my drift.

However, there is nothing quite like a well-honed, integrated, and comprehensive program that provides clear and consistent messages and information over time. Don’t you love it when you see an advertisement and then when you go to check out the product or service it’s where it should be, at the promised price, with the same message intact? And the reason it makes you so happy is that the experience happens so infrequently.

While there is no magic recipe for creating a great marketing plan, here are some tips on how to create a comprehensive plan that pulls all marketing disciplines together into one neat, clean, integrated, and — most important — results-generating package.

Have all the disciplines work from the same creative and/or positioning brief. Here is where most integrated marketing programs go wrong — everyone is literally on a different page. PR has its own goals and objectives (great publicity), advertising has its own (create a long-term brand), and marcom just wants to generate traffic at the next big trade show.

In many cases, these goals can be mutually exclusive and build counterproductive results. For example, the goal of the Web developers is to create a sexy brand site, but the ad guys are trying to drive purchase of a new product. The customer sees the ad, goes to the site, and finds beautiful brand-building images but no new product information.

Ouch!

So how do you avoid this frequent faux pas? Integrate, integrate, integrate.

Integrate your entire marketing program, and make sure that the same thread is woven through each and every activity. Back when I worked for Adauction (now called OneMediaPlace), the single goal of marketing was to get media buyers to register on our Web site. It was then up to our sales team to win over the customer. And not just any customer would do — he or she had to be someone who purchased media for their companies. That said, all of our marketing activities, PR, events, advertising, and direct-mail campaigns were focused on creating that result. And it worked with great success.

Efforts should build on other efforts. Your budget may not allow you to execute all marketing disciplines simultaneously, but with clear objectives, you can use one activity to lay the foundation for another. For example, you can do a great job generating excitement for an upcoming trade show by using the media and direct mail, and then put those disciplines on the back burner at the show itself. In this way, all the disciplines work together to support the company’s efforts.

These are just a few tips to get you started. My suggestion: Review your existing marketing program with these concepts in mind, and see where it takes you. And, as always, if there are topics or issues you would like to see me address over the next few months, drop me a line.

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