5 Pillars of An Integrated Marketing Strategy
Integrated marketing is a way to focus marketing efforts across multiple platforms, departments and employees. It provides the foundation for all marketing decisions and helps streamline efforts, keep branding consistent and portray one single, united front to the consumer. It is the perfect combination of blending online and offline efforts into one laser focused marketing strategy to achieve synergy and business growth.
DIRECT MARKETING – OWNED ASSETS
The first, and most important, pillar is owned assets. These are things like your Google My Business listing, your website and your social channels. You own them and control the content shared about your business to the world and you determine the frequency with which updates are made and conversations flow.
Your Google My Business listing is one of the most basic and fundamental pieces you need to pay attention to. Moz says that Google My Business listings account for 25% of your local 3-pack ranking factors. This listing needs to be robust with images, menu items, inventory items, services, videos, posts and anything else you can think of to share.
The absolute, most important owned asset you have is your website. Your website is the place potential customers can learn more about you during the research phase of their buying journey. They can meet the owner, look at your product selection or service options, or see your areas of expertise. It must be very robust with content optimized for SEO, be mobile optimized and fast. You need to make sure you are constantly updating it with content, events, or information so that it stays current for visitors. It should reflect your business personality and must portray your brand including your Unique Selling Proposition, your colors, style and feel of the business you run. This is how visitors get to know you. Personally, if I can’t read about the owner(s) who run the business, I leave the site. People buy from people they trust and if they can’t get to know you by visiting your website, you’ve failed.
Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is the marketing tactic used in this category for getting your website to organically rank at the top of searches. Experts differ on the exact amount of influence that different SEO efforts help in your ranking but agree on some basics like on-page efforts, off-page efforts, link building and social engagement.
The next owned asset you have are your social channels like your Facebook page, your Instagram page, your YouTube channel and your Pinterest page. All these platforms give you the opportunity to further enhance your relationship with customers and tell your story to future customers. These platforms must also portray your brand, your business personality and give people a place to engage with you. You should look the same to each of these audiences even if you use different content on each platform. Consumers should never see your brand use anything other than your brand colors, exact logo, conversation style, slogan, jingle or anything else that you’ve used to build your brand. Don’t confuse people by changing the colors of an ad, changing the symbols you use or your slogan just because you are bored with them.
Social Media Marketing is the tactic used for social channels where you post content to try and drive likes, shares, video views, pins, comments and engagement. In the old days (5 years ago) you could reach a reasonable amount of people with your Facebook posts. Now, reach is diminishing as Facebook wants you to pay for the reach that they’ve historically provided for free.
Personal selling takes many forms from networking at Chamber of Commerce functions to outside sales people calling on prospects. This is the act of face-to-face relationship building and takes business relationships to another level. Another example of personal selling is trade shows where you get to meet and interact with prospects in person. You can start a dialogue about what the prospect’s needs, how you might be a solution to their problem, and start developing ideas for them to consider. Your personal selling efforts might come in the form of inside sales people like in a retail environment. If you are business-to-business, you might employ outside sales people.
ADVERTISING – PAID MEDIA
The advertising category includes all forms of marketing you pay for. Traditional media includes things like newspaper, radio, television, direct mail and billboards. Digital media includes paid ads that are only online. The most prominent digital media includes pay-per-click (PPC) like Google Paid Search, YouTube video ads and mobile banner ads. Other examples include streaming radio, like Pandora, streaming television, like HULU, and banner ads on local media websites around local news and sports.
Advertising is the kind of thing that businesses love to hate. It is technically an expense on the profit & loss report, but it really is an investment into future business.
From time-to-time, you’ll find that sales need a little boost in order to help you hit a monthly goal, to reach a certain level for cash flow or simply to move out inventory. Sales promotions are the sales you implement to accomplish this. It might be a one-day sale, an anniversary sale, an everyday new customer offer, an incentive to drive higher per transaction revenue, or any combination you can think of. Sales promotions are not only for retailers, they can have a big impact on business-to-business sales, on services and healthcare, too.
PUBLIC RELATIONS – EARNED MEDIA
This category is called Earned Media because its free and you have earned the right to be included in someone else’s audience reach. Within traditional media, a newspaper could do a feature story on your latest accomplishment, a local radio station can interview you about an upcoming event, or a television station can shoot footage at your location to cover an exciting new philanthropic effort. Digital media offers opportunities for earned media, as well. Bloggers can talk about your products or services and provide links to your website. Social media influencers can do product reviews for you and tag you in the post.
Public relations are very often the very last thing on the marketing agenda for small businesses because they are too busy working inside the other four pillars to drive traffic and sales.
Many businesses think only about advertising when they think about marketing. I challenge you to think differently. When you have all 5 pillars working in tandem, you have a powerful integrated marketing program. Each year you should sit down and work through your annual plan including each of these pillars, get action steps on a calendar, and create benchmarks to track progress. Having a plan like this will help save you time and money.