Creating an “Integrated Marketing Plan”

I was asked recently to provide some information for an article on how to create an “integrated marketing plan.” That phrase has become quite popular and is, I would agree, more precise terminology to convey what a marketing plan actually does. In truth, I would think that every marketing plan would, by definition, bean “integrated” marketing plan. Few would use just one single method of communication, after all!

We work with clients frequently to develop and implement integrated marketing campaigns. And, whether they’re integrating tactical elements, traditional and online communication tactics, a combination of advertising and PR or–most often–all of the above, there are some important steps we advise them to follow. If you’re considering ways that you could get more out of your marketing plan (or “integrated marketing plan”), follow these steps:

  •  Have a very clear understanding of your target audience — and be *specific* about who your target audience is. It’s very important to clearly identify both demographic and psychographic (attitudes, interests and behaviors) both to help develop key messages and to identify the best communication channels to reach them.
  •  Research and understand the competition — both direct and indirect. Direct competitors are “obvious” — e.g. McDonald’s is a direct competitor of Burger King. Indirect competitors represent “any alternative option” — so, in this case, that might be the corner grocery store. Why is this important? so that you can effectively position what you have to offer against any other option your target market might have to choose from. And, so you can…
  •  …determine what it is about what you have to offer that is different in some meaningful way from your competition and meets the identified needs of your target audience.

Those, of course, are the “big rocks.” There are a number of other important steps along the way to ensure that your communication tactics are well aligned with your goals and objectives–and that they serve to connect and compel your audience to some desired action. We have a couple of white papers that provide some additional detail that may be helpful:

10 Must Do’s for an Effective Marketing Plan

Developing a Strategic Marketing Plan

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