What does integrating your business promotion mean? And why is it important?
Small and medium sized businesses today, and, lets be honest, even the big corporate boys, can no longer afford for their marketing activities to be ad-hoc, one-off and non-responsive. Our efforts to promote our businesses, and bring in more customers need to work, and they need to do so cost effectively!
Up until recently, the use of different suppliers to do different work, eg advertising and web marketing, has limited the integration of marketing efforts. Using multiple suppliers is fine, but clear, concise and written briefs are important when directing numerous suppliers.
Remember that your target market, or potential customers, do not differentiate between different the sources of information that they receive. Keep your message consistent on your business card, brochure, web site, or hot air balloon. Keep away from confusion at all costs.
Each marketing contact, or communication you have with each potential customer gives them a little bit more information each time, and starts to build a relationship over time. It is like building a house; information builds on prior foundations. If the foundations do not match, then your house may fall down. Perception exists in the mind of the potential customer and we have only the power to add to that, decisions will be based on an accumulation of information.
As each potential customer is only storing small bits of information from your communication at any time, in order to communicate effectively with your target market, you need to do so repeatedly, to move from awareness, interest and desire to action (the point at which they buy). This may mean frequency of television advertisements, but it can also mean a print advertisement, a direct mail piece, an article, sales promotion at the supermarket and so on, all used in combination to increase the frequency of communication with prospective customers. However, it is not just about frequency, but also integration.Why Integrate?
In the past we may have sent conflicting messages to our markets, our advertisement saying one thing, the packaging another, public relations another and direct marketing a fourth. Whilst all may be valid forms of marketing, each having an objective and a purpose, unfortunately the prospective customer does not deal with each message in isolation.
Our target market is bombarded daily with information, and they have enough messages to deal with as it is, so the result is that the above type of strategy just confuses them further, the messages are incompatible and cannot be reconciled.
The marketing environment is only getting worse, with rising costs of media, increasing competition and increasing mediums to choose from. Integration helps you to:
Marketing is not a once-off task, it is not about doing things and then sitting back and seeing what the result is, it is an accumulation of effort. Marketing efforts need to be ongoing and consistent, daily, weekly, monthly, quarterly and yearly.How to Plan for Integration
Integration of your marketing communication efforts requires you to think long term, to think strategically. You need to have a single positioning, a statement that defines your entire marketing strategy in order to cut through the noise.
Integration needs to take into account your entire organisation. Marketing is not just the role of the marketing department. As Steven Howard, author of Corporate Image Management states: “If it touches the customer, It’s a marketing issue”.
Start with research and ensure your long term positioning is based on informed decisions. You need to develop a position that you wish to communicate over the longer-term; it must be distinctive and able to withstand the test of time.
Plan to use marketing communication tools which complement your message and potential client audience. Research carefully the methods available to reach your target market in specific market segments.
A simple way of identifying communication influences is to determine each of the target audience contact points. Go through your sales cycle and identify what influences each potential customer and customer at all points of pre-sales, sale and after sales.
Copyright 2003 Creative Thinking Marketing. Reproduced with permission