In our last blog, we discussed considerations for your 2017 marketing plan. Unfortunately, many small businesses do not have a marketing plan, which makes it challenging to quantify ROI. It’s necessary to not only have a marketing plan, but to have an integrated plan, as well. If you’re among those without a marketing plan, but want to see a return on your efforts, then this post is for you! I’ve teamed up with the folks at GRIT Marketing Group to offer guidance on how to get started. I’m delighted to share the interview with the team.
Tell us about GRIT Marketing Group.
GRIT Marketing Group (formerly known as Moxie) is a full-service advertising and communications firm specializing in strategy, branding, digital, media planning and public relations. With offices in York and Lancaster, Pennsylvania, the firm works with a variety of business-to-business and business-to-consumer companies in the mid-Atlantic region.
In our experience, the majority of companies do not have a formal marketing plan. Why?
Lack of time or lack of know-how are the primary reasons why a majority of companies or organizations don’t have a formal marketing plan. Business leaders are often bogged down with the day-to-day tasks of running a business and simply run out of time to complete their to-do lists. They may execute marketing tactics here and there (typically the same things from year to year) but are frustrated with their limited success. A clearly defined, measurable strategic marketing plan built on research and experience will keep them on task and guide their overall marketing and business development efforts. But, a strategic integrated marketing plan that integrates all channels is the key to overall success and should not be ignored.
What is an integrated marketing plan and why should a business have one?
Integrated marketing plans combine new and traditional marketing channels to create a seamless experience for the defined target market (customer, prospect, employee, greater public) across multiple platforms that have a similar tone and creative design to reinforce the brand’s core message, rather than work in isolation. This unified approach will increase market and brand awareness, build authentic engagement based on trust, maximize cost effectiveness and establish long-term brand equity with will ultimately produce measurable results.
What should be included in an integrated marketing plan?
The top five must-haves for an integrated marketing plan are the following:
- Know your audience – define who your target audience is and what’s important to them – their needs (opportunities) and what keeps them up at night (points of pain). Also define how they like to receive information. Remember, each target audience has their own unique perspectives and needs; therefore a singular message or tactic is always not effective.
- Define your point of difference – what is your brand’s unique value to your customers? What do you want to be known for and how is your service or product better than your competition? Defining your brand position will help guide key marketing and operating decisions that affect your customer’s perception of your business.
- Write it down – develop a written plan that includes your vision, defined short-and-long-term goals and how you will measure success. Include strategies, tactics, timelines and assigned responsibilities.
- Be consistent - create a seamless client experience across all channels that have a similar tone and creative design to reinforce your brand message. Repetition is critical.
- Build from the Inside Out – employee brand advocates are the most important asset in your marketing mix. Make sure that your integrated marketing plan is communicated first to your employees (inside) to create buy-in before communicating to your clients and the public at-large (out). It seems like a no-brainer, but effective internal communications are sometimes assumed. But, in many cases, that’s a false assumption, which creates a roadblock to effective plan execution - and ultimately affects your client’s overall brand experience.
What ways can a business, particularly one that has never created an integrated marketing plan, get started without feeling overwhelmed? If you don’t have time or feel overwhelmed by the process of developing an integrated marketing plan, hire an experienced integrated marketing professional or firm. But buyers beware! Not all advertising agencies or marketing firms are created equal. Do your research. Find the right fit for your business so you can stretch your hard-earned dollars with a plan that is targeted to the specific needs and goals of your business.
What ways can an integrated marketing plan help to bridge the gap between marketing goals and outcomes (aka profits)?
A good integrated marketing plan will have defined, measurable goals, milestones and desired outcomes. Each channel and strategy will have its own metrics and success points with each defined audience also having a unique approach, too.
Do you believe leads are the same as conversion? Why or why not?
Technically, Google Analytics counts website leads as conversions, which they factor into the overall site conversion rate. If it is an ecommerce website, purchases are also considered to be conversions. So, yes, we believe leads are the same as conversions. How you achieve those leads and conversions will vary, by channel. Mix it up and try different tactics until you find something that works well for the desired targeted audience of your business or organization. It takes patience, time and sometimes a little luck.
What role does social advertising play in lead generation? Is it pivotal to include social advertising as part of a social media plan?
Social advertising allows the precise targeting of a defined user that would be interested in your product or service. Not only is it pivotal to include paid social advertising in your integrated marketing plan, but it is equally important to carefully consider which social channel is the most appropriate choice for your organization or business.
The Vistage graphic referenced in my last post indicated that CEO’s use social media for their business to increase brand awareness followed by new business development, recruitment, and networking. Do you find that your clientele have similar uses for social media?
Absolutely. Social media not only builds a business’ brand but it can help with new business development, recruitment and networking. Social media provides the platform to humanize a company or organization and tell their story while engaging the user with content that is relevant to them. But choosing the correct social media channel is key to attracting your targeted audience. With over one billion users, it’s easy to assume that Facebook is the go-to choice. But, that is not always the case. A detailed analysis of your target audience and their social media preferences is important to developing an effective strategy.
What else can you tell us about the role of digital marketing in 2017?
There is no denying that people are consuming more and more digital content every day. This shift to a more digital world will continue in 2017 and beyond. Digital marketing is many times more affordable than a traditional offline marketing methods. An email or social media campaign can be specifically targeted to desired demographic market at a fraction of the cost of a TV ad or print campaign. Plus, you can measure the success of your marketing campaign with real time-results. Companies that have not included digital marketing in their marketing mix will need to adapt fast or will be losing business to their competitors that are using digital successfully.
Achieve real results with your marketing efforts next year! For more information on creating an integrated marketing plan, contact GRIT today. For more information on social media management, contact #Strella Social Media today!