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.

Social Marketing and Relationship Building

Social Media IconsSocial marketing is all about building relationships. Using social media such as Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Google+ and YouTube are great additions to your customer relationship management (CRM) tools. Staying social allows you to stay in touch and engage with your customers.  Social marketing is all about strategy, listening and community engagement. All brands need to engage with their target audiences.

As with any marketing medium, the first step for any social strategy is to identify what your business priorities are and align them with the social tactics that your customers use. Once you’ve figured out what social communities your customers use, you need to convey warmth and sincerity in your social media content. Picture first the reader. Try to imagine the subject from the reader’s viewpoint. Use the word “you,” but don’t overdo it.

Know what your customers want. Before buying a product or service, people weigh the benefits that would come from the purchase against the hierarchy of their wants and needs. Many factors go into this decision – convenience, price, quality, speed of delivery and other variables. Knowing precisely what your customers want from you, what influences their buying decision is key to effective marketing and posting great social content that builds ongoing customer relationships.

Use the right information. You need to have the right information to use it well in your posts, tweets and videos. The right information means the right amount and level of detail. You need to ask yourself: Can I (therefore my customer) make informed decisions based upon this information?

Focus on clearly identifiable market segments. Marketing and communication today is all about me, myself and I. It’s a one-on-one conversation. What particular combination of factors will define a group with significantly different buying patterns that are relevant to your business? By focusing on the common denominators of your target groups, you can develop information specifically tailored to your customer’s need. This will allow you to zero in on information that your customers want and need.

Make an offer your prospects find hard to refuse. To succeed, an offer needs to be perceived as tangible, clear and appealing to your target market. In fact, the presentation of your offer is almost as important as your product or service in stimulating sales. Link your name with a strong customer benefit.

Clarity is important in getting people to accept your offer. You should leave no doubt in their minds about what you want them to do and how you want them to do it. They need to know exactly what they are going to get if they respond. Make it clear.

As with most of us, I find it much more fun to create amusing and witty posts. Unfortunately, the fact remains that they usually don’t work as well as clear, benefits-oriented statements.

The key to using social media is to build customer relationships, and keep interest and engagement to encourage continual customer collaboration.

The Skinny on…Outsourcing Your Social Media?

Social media is conversation and collaboration with your stakeholders. Then, why would you want to outsource these engagement services? Social media efforts can be a huge waste of time and you’ll get nothing in return, unless you know the best strategies for sharing content. The bulk of the work is research, optimization, content creation and monitoring, which can be outsourced to a team of social media experts, including designers, developers, writers of content and researchers experienced in social media support activities. You then will be able to maintain successful results with a lean in-house social media coordination team to help keep your costs down. Your people must be skilled and trained at integrating social media engagement with branding, employee relations, hiring, public relations, marketing, customer services, reputation management and product development. If they aren’t, these are other areas that can be supported by and outsourced to experienced social media experts.