Integrated Marketing

Don’t silo your communication strategies –
integrate them.

Don’t silo your communication strategies

It’s easy to get swept up in the vast sea of communication channels and tactics, especially in 2021, which if not strategically assessed, can muddle a marketing plan. You look at what’s trendy at any given moment and use that as a springboard for a new marketing or advertising campaign – but it might not be the right tactic for your target audience and your content might not be positioned in a way that is meaningful and relevant to that target audience.

The plethora of communication tactics can be counter-intuitive to achieving your specific marketing goals – and more importantly, your overall business goals. Without proper market research and preparation, brands may as well carpet-bomb their message across multiple platforms to their entire audience. From this approach, you can expect wildly inconsistent results that can’t be accurately measured – meaning no lessons can be applied to future campaigns. For true success – businesses need to create a strategic integrated communication plan to support their marketing efforts.

What's the endgame?

When we begin developing a marketing plan for a client – their overall business strategy needs to be the starting point. What is their long-term (3-5 years) strategic plan?  What are the measurable results and KPIs to build their business? Based on long term strategies and shorter-term annual business objectives, there need to be clear and accountable stakeholders identified, tasks assigned and timelines established.

Most importantly, the big question needs to be answered – Why? Why are these your goals? Why are these steps laid out and why are they important?

By being involved in strategic business planning discussions like these early on, agencies or communications firms like Renegade gain a deeper understanding of what a client’s endgame truly is. Specifically, business objectives springboard into the brand’s marketing objectives – the more precise and measurable marketing path they need to take to reach their broader business goals. From there, the specific integrated communication plan strategies and tactics including creative and media come into clearer focus. Whether it’s introducing a new offering, raising awareness, generating demand, increasing brand loyalty, disruption, or anything else in between – starting with a client’s overall business goals allows for us to develop a concrete integrated communication plan.

Start with understanding your brand

In order to know where you’re going, you need to know where you are now, right? A strong ICP starts with an in-depth audit of your brand. What’s working? What isn’t? Why were certain tactics chosen previously?

Just as important – it’s vital to look at what your competition is doing, not only so you can keep up with them – but STAND OUT from them.

These insights can be gleaned more easily than ever in today’s media landscape – there is a glut of market research available for anyone who knows where to look. Social listening tools like Brandwatch allow real-time understanding of how a given brand is being perceived in the marketplace.  Those findings can then be segmented across a range demographics.

This deep dive allows us to answer some key questions – what is the perceived tangible benefit and emotional end benefit of the product or service being provided by the brand? What reasons do your target audience groups have to believe in the brand? What feelings or emotions should they have when purchasing this brand’s product? What tone and personality is being conveyed across all platforms by this brand?

Many brands or businesses went through this exercise when they first started, and never re-visited it. In today's “post-” COVID landscape with consumers' purchasing habits and emotional relationships with products and services rapidly changing, it is critical to revisit perceptions of products and services.  This in-depth social listening process ultimately helps develop and evolve a brands’ strategic framework resulting in a creative brief from which all strong marketing campaigns begin.

    Create personas – not just demographics profiles

    The brand audit lets brands know where they are now. Their business objectives represent where they want to go. So now it’s time to focus on the best way to get there – namely a strong focus on the customers themselves.

    To borrow a metaphor from Stephen Woessner from Predictive ROI, imagine going fishing. If you just take your boat out on the open ocean and just drop your line at random, you’re not likely to catch many fish. But if you have the right equipment, you can locate where the fish are under the water. And if you have the right bait and tackle, you can catch them consistently and successfully.

    This is where audience segmentation comes into play. Despite growing concerns about privacy, consumers still crave personalized content. It’s incumbent upon brands to truly know who their consumers are and target accordingly. I’m not just talking about their demographics. It’s understanding their travel habits, shopping habits, media consumption habits, among countless other variables, all of which will help shape their distinct personas.

    The most vital thing to determine is what generates sentiment among the different personas? What is the emotional hook? What do they respond to on an emotional level, in the moment when considering a product purchase or service engagement?

    This is why developing individual messages and tactics by persona is vital. Analyzing and understanding the persona customer journey step-by-step, from the top of the funnel to the very bottom, is a critical part of the messaging process. That journey is different for many, but it often leads to the same place – brand advocacy.

    Honing the right media mix

    It’s not just traditional vs. digital – some personas will prefer videos, while others may respond better to written content. Out of home may work for some, while radio better for others. The bottom line is, an integrated communication plan creates synergy between a client’s brand strategy and media tactics.

    Because of the work that’s been completed already, a more comprehensive media strategy framework becomes a much lighter pull. Identifying the right channels and spend, developing creative that resonates, attributing success and adapting as campaigns progress is a much easier process for agencies who have been fully synced up with their clients from the beginning.  The integrated communications plan, including the role of PR and employee optimization makes it all happen.

    In Conclusion

    Look – carpet bombing doesn’t work. Campaigns that leverage personified messaging and sentiment-driven creative – meeting the customer in their channel – does work.

    This is why an integrated communication plan is such a proven, successful approach. By remaining completely in sync from beginning to end, agencies and clients develop a better workflow, understand one another better, and hence create better work. Better work drives leads, increases engagement and fosters loyalty among customers.

    Sara Noon
    Sara Noon is the Vice President of Strategy and Client Services for Renegade Communications. She has over 30 years of experience executing impactful branding strategies for for-profit and non-profit businesses through effective marketing and strategic business relationships.