It’s Time to Take an Integrated Marketing Approach

IntegratedMarketingIn 2013, if you aren’t already, you should take an integrated marketing and communications approach, using a mix of offline and online activities. If your marketing and communications plan has not shifted toward more online communications and integrated programs, you are not fully connecting with your customers.

To sell more products and services, your company should consistently connect with and speak to your customers and stakeholders on a regular basis. You should always maintain and further strengthen the relationships you’ve built with your customers. Keeping visible in your marketplace is also vital to catching the eye of new prospects.

Taking an integrated marketing and communications approach means integrating your offline channels (print advertising, direct mail, public relations, outdoor and broadcast) with online channels (e-marketing campaigns, search engine optimization, pay-per-click, banner ads, social media, blogs, RSS). Integrate the various elements of the mix to maximize competitive advantage for your brand.

Proper integration of online media adds depth and measurability to your programs. It makes you more accessible to your customers. And, accessibility is an important key to marketing in today’s business environment.

You should devote a good portion of your communications budget to public relations, which includes search engine optimization and social-media-optimized press releases, which increase exposure and potential ROI. It’s important to repeatedly let people know why your brand is worth its price by maintaining regular communications and focusing on the advantages of your products and services. A great way to accomplish this is to distribute press releases at regular intervals.

You must also invest in a strong web presence. You have to make sure that you understand how your products are researched and found, and serve as a resource to people who are in search of information. Your website should be responsive to mobile devices. Think of ways to drive people to your website, such as dedicated landing pages, and using an easy-to-remember URL with your promotions. This strategy makes it very simple to track your promotions. Offer a free newsletter, coupons or some other information of value to your target market.

Why not consider integrating a blog with your website? Blogs are conversations. You can speak in your everyday voice, which your stakeholders will often find more friendly and approachable.

Consider doing a video. There are lots of ways to get prospects excited about your business, but very few are as attention grabbing and emotionally evocative as a well-done video. If you’ve never taken this angle for your business, this is an excellent time to do one,  get it up on your website and a clip up on YouTube.

Start doing a monthly e-mail marketing campaign. Use segmented lists and personalized messages with very specific information for each contact. Permission-based tools can make your marketing and public relations dollars work for you. Sending regular messages to your target audience is one of the best ways to market your products and services, and to drive traffic to your website.

Social media is everywhere. You should have a company Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn page, at the very least. With everyone more and more connected via mobile, these are great tools to stay connected with your customers. Your communications need to be relationship-based, taking advantage of search marketing, social media, lead nurturing and online communities.

You should also develop direct-mail pieces using variable digital printing and customized mailing with information directly targeted to each individual. Digital printing can save you money as you print on demand.

And, don’t forget to include print advertising, especially in your industry’s trade publications. Consider using a quarter-page ad in trade publications rather than a half page, or a half page instead of a full page. Many times they work just as well, as long as your copy hooks in your target audience.

Energizing your customers – getting them charged up and talking about your products – should be done consistently. Determine what your customers are looking for and focus your attention there. Learn which channels and mediums provide maximum exposure for your messages and deliver the most for the dollars you are spending.

Successful marketing and communication efforts result from careful strategic and comprehensive planning. Look for ways to promote your company, its products and services in an integrated approach.

Is Your Company’s Color Sending a Hidden Message?

Color WheelMost marketers understand that the consistent use of color in advertising and marketing plays a huge role in memory recall. For example, most of us understand that the persistent use of red in advertising for Coca-Cola® is done in hopes that whenever the color red is seen it will remind us of the soft drink.

However, colors are often associated with moods and meanings, and can instantly convey a message like no other communication medium. They can have different meanings depending on culture, situation or industry, and are perceived at a subliminal level, i.e., most people do not consciously think about the associations, but their perceptions of a company are often influenced by them.

Many times not enough consideration is given to the selection of color. Perhaps your company’s color was selected because it is the owner’s favorite, or a designer’s. Since color associations are processed on a subliminal level, it is important to know and understand what those associations are so that you can select colors that will send the right message.

Ultimately, you should select colors based on the emotion and image you want to evoke in each target market throughout the world. The following color descriptions generally hold true for the U.S., but colors have strong cultural associations and inferences that may differ widely from one place to another globally. Make sure you research and understand this when advertising and marketing for each location.

Warm Colors
Warm colors include red, yellow, orange and all their variations. They are the colors of the sun and fire, and generally evoke power, energy and passion.

RedRed is the color of energy. It can increase your heart rate, cause you to breathe faster and raise blood pressure. This physical response often associates red with passion and aggression. It is highly visible and as such is often used to represent danger. It symbolizes energy, action, courage, passion, vitality, danger and indebtedness. Use red when you want to catch attention, add energy, inspire action, or evoke confidence and protection.

OrangeOrange is the color of enthusiasm. Combined from fiery red and cheerful yellow, orange is said to be a healing color and is often used in lighter shades (peach) in the healthcare industry. It symbolizes vitality, endurance, fun, creativity, luck, curiosity and exploration. Use orange to spice things up, to increase creativity or add fun and whimsy.

YellowYellow is the color of happiness. As the color of sunshine, yellow symbolizes warmth, energy, light, optimism, wisdom and joy. Bright yellow is the easiest color to see, so is often used as an attention getter. Historically, yellow has been used to indicate honor and loyalty. But, be cautious when using yellow, it also has a history of representing cowardice, caution, sickness and jealousy. Use yellow when you want to increase clarity, promote sharper concentration or evoke happiness and joy.

Cool Colors
Cool colors include purple, blue, green and all their variations. They are the colors of water and nature and generally thought of as more conservative.

PurplePurple is the color of royalty. Combined from passionate red and tranquil blue, purple is representative of balance. It symbolizes sophistication, spirituality, peace, magic, mystery, nobility, luxury and royalty. Purple is often a favorite of children and creative people. Use purple when you want to evoke imagination, balance, importance, romance, nostalgia and calm.

BlueBlue is the color of trust. Associated with the color of the sky and sea, blue symbolizes serenity, dependability, security and strength. Blue is often a favorite of conservative people and financial institutions as it has a calming effect and inspires trust. Use blue when you want to evoke calm, relaxation, communication, solitude and peace. Avoid blue when promoting food as it suppresses the appetite.

GreenGreen is the color of nature. It is associated with growth, freshness and fertility. Its meaning can vary depending on the shade with deep greens associated with wealth and prestige and lighter greens associated with healing and calm. Green symbolizes life, learning, growth, balance and harmony. Use green when you want to evoke balance, growth, prosperity, safety, wealth and money.

Neutral colors include brown, black, white and all their variations. They are often used as the backdrop in design and their meanings affected by the colors that surround them.

BrownBrown is the color of the earth. While associated with simplicity, durability and stability you must be cautious when using brown as it can be perceived as dirty. Some shades of brown, such as taupe and beige can have an upscale look and are often used in home interiors. Brown gives a feeling of solidity, however too much brown can be dull and boring. Use brown when you want to evoke warmth, comfort, wholesomeness, stability and dependability.

BlackBlack is the serious color. Strictly speaking, black is the absence of color and represents emptiness. Used as a negative, black is associated with death, fear and uncertainty. As a positive it is associated with mystery, formality, sophistication and power and is often chosen to represent expensive products. Use black when you want to create drama, be bold, evoke emptiness or the unknown.

WhiteWhite is the color of purity. Strictly speaking, white is the presence of all color and represents wholeness, completeness, openness and truth. White is considered to be the color of perfection and is often used to represent cleanliness. It is frequently used in healthcare, scientific and charitable organizations. Use white when you want to evoke clarity, organization, new beginnings, freshness and purity.

PR Boosts the Effectiveness of Your Marketing

Public relations (PR) helps reinforce your marketing, advertising and brand position. It makes your marketing work better, especially if you have unique key message content that can be a starting point to use for different mediums on and off line.

It can’t guarantee 100-percent control over content, display, position and frequency, as does advertising. But what it lacks in frequency, PR can make up for in reach. And, it’s a great way to spread your marketing and advertising budget.

PR can deliver your company’s product or service messages through a variety of media that could never be included in the most lavish advertising plan.

Sound PR is an integral part of maintaining a successful business. Competition for customers is keen. Having a successful business depends on properly building a solid foundation through effective public relations, marketing and advertising that supports your brand.

The public (your customers) can be cynical. They have lots of advertising messages thrown at them on a daily basis. But, when people read articles, hear or see something about your company, they’re going to take the published reports more seriously than they do ads. Articles written about your company, executives, products or services give you enormous credibility. It’s good content that’s not coming from you.

Media relations should always be a key part of your PR plan. Successful media relations – nurtured over time through relationships with media contacts – can help establish an ongoing, positive awareness of your company and the products or services it provides. It can inform and excite customers, investors and employees.

Third-party endorsement by the media sells integrity, quality and extraordinary service like no advertisement can. PR has the power to persuade the public.

Not promoting your company through public relations can take quite a toll on your company. It can mean lost revenue. Your company competes with thousands of others. The main difference for sustainable awareness is whether your PR program is established by default, or as a result of careful planning.

Well-organized, ongoing public relations programs make a big difference for building the awareness of your company and what it sells. The payoff for doing strategically planned, proactive public relations can be tremendous.