Integrated Marketing and Communications for Small Businesses

Are you wondering why all the time and effort you’re putting into advertising, social media campaigns, printed flyers, Linkdin connecting, Blog writing, tweets, Instagram posts, Facebook content, Pinterest pins, Snapchatting …… *take a breath*….. and all the rest, just aren’t translating into more purchases?

Implementing an Integrated Marketing and Communications (IMC) strategy might just be the key to turning that all around.integrated-marketing-croppedAlign, Streamline and Hone your Message.

This might sound pretty straight-forward and a bit of an “I already knew that” moment, but the Key to increasing your brand’s equity through communications and messaging is to keep it consistent “across all channels and centred around the customer.” (Northwestern School of Journalism).

Ok, to make it easy, try this. 

Take some post-it-notes and a black marker. Now write your company’s overarching strategy (key values or mission statement) on it.Be Consistent

Done?

Now stick one on your laptop, one on your PC, one on your tablet, one on your phone, one on your cash register- catch my drift?

Stick one anywhere you might conduct any marketing activities with your customers or for your brand.

These will be your reminder to keep ALL your messaging in line with your brand’s overarching strategy.

Remember, messaging comes in many forms. Campaigns, social media content, sales conversations, product placements and pricing, business cards, flyers, direct marketing, even the packaging, sends a message to your customers.

Are they all in line with your overarching strategy?

Don’t mess with the Brand.strong-brand

Once you have your core marketing messages aligned, your brand needs to follow suit. Ensure your brand image is strong and unified across all channels. That’s everything from the name, (yes some companies have different names on each of their sites), colours, fonts, as well as language. “Inconsistency can have a significant impact your brand recognition” brand consistency “builds trust and loyalty with your customers.”B. Villanueva, 2016 Randgroup.com.

Choose the right Channels.mult-media-channels-it-business-solutions

 “Varied media have varied strengths, and the messages should” not only ” play to the mediums strengths” (D. Iacobucci MM4 2013) but also ensure the channels you have chosen, are relevant to your target audience. Here’s some stats to help you choose:

  • “Snapchat is the social media weapon of choice for 17- to 25-year-olds,” (Douglas Nicol 2014).
  • 82% of Australia’s 55+ segment read newspapers.
  • The highest users of Facebook are aged between 25 to 34.
  • “85% of Gen Z’s visit YouTube more than any other social media site.” Deep Focus.

Adapt to your Audience.

After selecting the appropriate channels to send your messages through, now you need to make sure it’s in the right language, easily interpreted and interesting to your audience.

A segmentation analysis will outline your target audience and their traits more clearly, but for example’s sake, I’ll stick with the differences in generation’s.

Gen-Z-Claire-Madden_Infographic_McCrindleAccording to E. Friedman, 2014, Generation Z are more responsive to imagery over text, short, bite-sized content, interactive campaigns and have shorter attention spans.

Whereas Generation Y “responds to off-beat, sarcastic humor .. using inclusive language and imagery is especially important for resonance”.

More about words that work with each generation here

Effective Frequency. 

blog-images-effective-frequencyEffective frequency is “the number of times a consumer must be exposed to a message before the marketer gets the desired response, whether that be buying a product, or something as simple as remembering a message.” (L. Greenwald, 2016).

Basically, by reaching your customers on as many platforms as possible with one unified message will ensure Effective Frequency is attained quicker than it would if using a number of different messages.

Invest in your People.

The most important of all, is to make sure the customer experience in-store matches your messaging. If your brand ethos contains the words “inclusive” or “first class” then ensure your staff know that too and are trained accordingly- integrated marketing doesn’t stop with your digital or printed messaging.

 “Every little piece that contradicts your brand messaging is a step back.” (K. Eliason, 2014). 

Nina Bendon

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References

L. Greenwald, 2016. How To Create An Integrated Marketing Communications Campaign Plan That Blends Online And Offline Tools. Accessed Online 6/05/16. <http://www.marketingtechnologyinc.com/blog/how-to-create-an-integrated-marketing-communications-campaign-plan >

Generation Z. Website. Accessed Online 6/05/16. <http://generationz.com.au>

E. Friedman , 2014. The Marketing Words That Work With Each Generation. Accessed Online 6/05/16. <http://www.burrellesluce.com/freshideas/2014/10/the-words-that-work-with-each-generation/>

The Newspaper Works, 2014. More than half of newspaper audiences read newspapers online. Accessed Online 6/05/16. < http://www.thenewspaperworks.com.au/more-than-half-of-newspaper-audiences-read-newspapers-online/>

news.com.au, 2014. Australia-first study reveals our changing social media habits, as users shift towards Snapchat, Instagram and Vine. Accessed Online 6/05/16.<http://www.news.com.au/technology/facebook/australiafirst-study-reveals-our-changing-social-media-habits-as-users-shift-towards-snapchat-instagram-and-vine/story-fnjwvn4n-1226946033247>

Iacobucci, D 2013, Mm4, n.p.: Mason, Ohio, South-Western; Andover: Cengage Learning [distributor], 2013

 

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