Unify your marketing and advertising communications for maximum effect Featured

9:01pm EDT March 31, 2012
Unify your marketing and advertising communications for maximum effect

There is a lot of buzz these days about integrated advertising and marketing. But what exactly is it?

According to Rochelle Reiter, agency principal at Orange Label Art + Advertising, “It is the coordination and integration of all of a company’s advertising and marketing communications into a cohesive plan that maximizes the impact on customers and prospects. An integrated plan is designed to make all aspects of marketing communications (e.g., advertising, sales, marketing, PR and online) work together as a unified and integrated force, rather than allowing each component to function independently.”

To be successful and produce the needed return on investment, an integrated plan must have senior management buy-in.

“It’s important that a company’s leaders understand and comprehend the goals and objectives of an integrated campaign and are aligned on the strategy and messaging,” notes Wes Phillips, also an agency principal at Orange Label Art + Advertising. “Staff and outside resources need management’s support during the creation and implementation process, along with sufficient time and budget resources. If the resources are not made available, the integrated strategy will not be perceived as a priority.”

Smart Business asked Reiter and Phillips what steps a company should take to ensure a successful integrated strategy.

Why should a company make an integrated strategy a priority?

First of all, an integrated strategy helps to clearly differentiate your company from the competition. If all of your messages are consistent, your target prospects will understand what your brand stands for and what sets you apart. An integrated strategy also creates credibility. When your messaging is consistent across multiple media platforms, it establishes the impression that your brand is reliable and that there is little perceived risk in buying your products.

Another benefit is increased return on investment. When your advertising and marketing are integrated, each message across the various mediums leverages the next, thereby stretching your dollars to create a synergistic payoff. Overall, marketing costs are lower because you are not reinventing the wheel every time you need to develop a new ad, launch a new campaign, etc. For example, you can leverage your core campaign theme and copy messages and photography across different media to get more mileage out of your initial investment.

Your internal staff benefits as well. An integrated advertising and marketing strategy will help your team understand and become aligned on overall company objectives. This will prevent one department from coming up with an idea, implementing it and never communicating it with the rest of the company. In other words, an integrated approach helps you avoid a fragmented strategy, which results in confusion and lost market share.

How can a company get started on its plan?

First, define your business and marketing objectives for the short, mid, and long term. Next, conduct market research and define the target demographic. Who are your prospects, where are they, what are their habits and what are their unmet needs? Then, the core brand messages can be developed. After the brand messages are developed, the next step is to research which media vehicles and tools are available and which would be most effective for reaching your target audience. You then determine the personnel and monetary resources needed, which will assist with developing the advertising budget. A key consideration will be whether you will develop and manage the plan in house or outsource it to a full-service integrated advertising and marketing firm.

What internal resources are needed?

Fundamental to the success of an integrated marketing strategy is a strong, capable and motivating marketing leader. Then the organization’s senior management or leadership team needs to determine if internal staff has the depth, creativity and savvy to generate an integrated plan and implement it effectively and consistently. Because of the extensive demands an integrated strategy has on internal staff, many companies use outside resources such as freelance copywriters and artists to complement their team. However, when strategic thinking is required, an outside marketing or advertising firm can be used to help develop the brand platform and the overall integrated advertising platform.

How is an integrated plan managed?

Someone (usually the marketing leader recommended above) from inside the company needs to own the plan, monitor all activity and manage it for success. If the integrated strategy is not managed properly, fragmentation will occur. Some companies think that once the plan is launched, there is nothing left to do. However, even if you’re working with an outside firm, you still need to communicate with them on a regular basis throughout your sales cycle. That might be once a week, once every two weeks or once a month. A strategic marketing calendar is a helpful tool for managing the plan. This document summarizes in one place the brand, the themes, the events, the media platforms and the budget for a stated period of time — usually one year. It can be used to evaluate progress and can be adjusted based on new circumstances, information and results that are achieved.

WES PHILLIPS and ROCHELLE REITER are the agency principals of Orange Label Art + Advertising. Reach them at (949) 631-9900 or wphillips@orangelabeladvertising.com or rreiter@orangelabeladvertising.com.

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