Successful integrated marketing starts with a cohesive message. Whether organizations are selling to other enterprises, consumers or potential investors, they first need to define their brand story, then relay it consistently across strategies. But a one-size-fits-all approach won’t work.
We believe the best outcomes are driven by purposeful planning that aligns integrated PR and marketing strategies with business goals. Just as no two companies are exactly alike, no marketing strategy can be both universal and expected to yield a customized result. The target audiences for cybersecurity and healthcare companies are completely different, and their marketing strategies should reflect that.
Marketing and PR practitioners across the field recognize the power of integrating strategies to realize cost efficiencies, reinforce messages, reach audiences through their preferred channels and widen the overall opportunity net. However, this understanding has led to a catch-all method being deployed by some that is ineffective at best and confusing at worst. A B2B business, for example, should not employ the same strategies as a B2C business that focuses its marketing efforts on Facebook, because the B2B business’s customers are unlikely to be active on Facebook.
To complicate the issue, some people confuse having a multi-channel marketing approach with being integrated. Meanwhile, their companies are delivering disparate messages across channels that confuse audiences, weaken their brand stories and potentially harm their competitive positions. Organizations should instead only integrate strategies that best match their capabilities and audience preferences and directly support their objectives.
Build Campaigns with the End Goal in Mind
Integrated marketing and PR strategies must be designed with end business objectives in mind. Every organization has unique goals and distinct audiences that need to be accounted for within campaigns, and, while there are efficiencies to be realized through integration, simply repurposing tactics across channels won’t cut it.
At RH Strategic, we keep these guideposts in mind when developing customized integrated communications and marketing strategies for our clients:
- The End Goal Defines the Strategies: By reverse engineering an integrated marketing campaign from the primary business objective, plans can be informed by research to determine the best mix of strategies that will achieve desired results from key audiences. For instance, if your objective is to drive traffic to a microsite, then your strategies should focus on digital rather than print channels.
- Cohesive Messaging Wins: Once the key business objective is defined, a more cohesive set of messages can be developed for use across strategies that reinforce and amplify the success of each other. Messaging should be built from the same core to ensure consistency before any customization occurs for different key audiences.
- Audiences Engage Differently: Everyone has a preferred way to learn about and interact with an organization, initiative or concept. For some people, that may be reading media coverage, while others may want to watch a video, listen to a podcast or engage in a social media conversation. Harnessing these audience preferences is key to delivering a consistent, effective message.
The Next Level of Integration
We believe successful integrated marketing approaches will employ similar guideposts: build strategies around business goals, harness cohesive messaging, and determine the most effective mix of mediums for the organization to engage its key audiences.
By moving beyond the simple box-checking of integrated strategies and toward a customized approach that maximizes all marketing efforts to their fullest potential, organizations can achieve new successes now that continue to grow in the future.
RH Strategic is a Seattle and D.C.-based communications firm with a nationwide presence and additional global reach via membership in the Worldcom Public Relations Group. We provide strategic public relations for innovators in the technology, government and healthcare markets.