Marketing executives are dealing with enormous pressure. Success is often measured by tangible impact on business, and with the ability to measure almost anything, marketing is often the last celebrated but the first scrutinized.
Compounding matters is today’s 24/7 marketing ecosystem. Simply put, a company’s audience and influencers are omnipresent. That means you have to be able to tell an engaging story wherever and whenever the audience wants to interact--whether that’s in person, online, in their hands, or on the go.
Many marketers, however, struggle to create this kind of cohesive, breakthrough voice for their brands. In fact, more than 70% of CMOs say they’re behind the curve when it comes to integrated marketing, according to "The CMO Challenge,"--a study of almost 300 senior marketing executives, conducted by Horn Group and Kelton Research this past spring.
So how are you supposed to make it work?
It starts by asking the right questions--questions that force you to think not “me-first,” but “customer-first,” in order to determine the mix of content, channels, and offers likely to drive return and response. Take a close look at the following six steps; they’ll help make sure your communications are poised to break through in a powerful way:
1. Define Your Business Objectives
Sounds a little too basic, right? Not so fast. You’d be surprised at how many companies don’t give enough thought to identifying concrete, measurable KPIs before jumping into a campaign--and you can’t start without them.
Be as specific as possible. What’s your end objective? Increased leads? Brand awareness? Thought leadership? Write them down, and don’t rush into execution until everybody on your team is on board.
2. Know Your Audience (And Who They Listen To)
You can’t be everything to everyone, so narrow it down: Who exactly are you targeting? Is it the end user? A CMO? An investor?
And don’t stop there. Once you’ve identified your audience, dive deeper to find out who influences them. In today’s always-connected marketplace, knowing (and targeting) influencers can be the catalyst that compels customer action.
3. Find Out Where You Need To Be
It’s tempting to design your marketing campaigns around the channels you think are most exciting or noticeable. But the best campaigns come when the marketing mix is driven by the customer, not the corporation.
How do you know what channels to use? Take a closer look at your audience: Where are they interacting? Where are they the most active? What you find should reveal where you need to be active. Remember: Your integrated mix will be far more effective if the ingredients are channels customers are already active in, rather than a collection of me-first platforms.
4. Content: Give Them They Want
Once again, it’s not about you. Do your research: What kind of content are customers actively seeking out? Case studies? Shareable content (like video)? Something else entirely?
Try not to think business-first. It might be tempting to rush out with a new infographic or whitepaper because you think it’s valuable--and it very well might be--but connecting with customers means first understanding the type of content they want.
5. Break Through
By this point, you should be on the brink of executing a multichannel campaign that responds to the specific needs, intents, and content your audience is looking for. That’s huge. After all, “standing out” doesn’t mean being the loudest; it means being heard and understood by the customers you’re targeting.
Before you hit, “Go,” though, ask a few more hard questions: Is your messaging differentiated? Just as important, is it consistent in every channel? And who’s responsible for making sure your story is unified across the entire marketing mix?
6. Measure What Matters
It’s the million-dollar question: How do you know it worked? Tools, metrics, reporting–we could talk about a host of topics here, but more than anything, focus on one thing: Tie your measurement back to your business goals.
This is why Step 1 (Define Your Business Objectives) was so important. By the time your campaign is live, you’re managing a countless number of moving pieces--channels, customers, content--and it’s easy to get overwhelmed by data. Stay on track by consistently gauging performance as it relates to your original objectives.
There might not be a magic formula for instantly creating integrated marketing magic, but the companies that succeed are the ones that constantly respond to what customers want and how/where they want it. The steps outlined above are just the start. For more guidance, take a look at the Breakthrough Communications Blueprint–it’s a step-by-step action plan for creating powerful, cohesive brand experiences across multiple channels, and it’ll ensure you’re on the right path for breaking through in a crowded marketplace.