Over the last month we have thoroughly explored the concepts behind a successful integrated marketing communications strategies. There’s a lot of different angles to consider with integrated marketing communications campaigns – audiences, channels, reach, strategy – but let’s recap before we get too far afield.
What is an integrated marketing communications strategy again?
In short, an integrated marketing communications (IMC) strategy is a consolidated, optimized brand message that is carefully developed to send out across all a brand’s channels and platforms to reach their audience with a single, powerful message. This allows brand audiences to hear a single voice, thus providing them with a reason to trust and remain loyal to that brand. Check back on our previous articles to catch up on reasons why you need an IMC to begin with, and steps to creating one. All caught up? Let’s dive in.
How to develop your IMC Campaigns
Developing campaigns is all part of digital marketing, it’s how we reach our audiences and communicate with them. Campaigns can be built around certain products, aiming to bolster sales, or entire brands, raising awareness and boosting audience loyalty and reach. In a nutshell, campaigns are a consolidated attempt to reach a target audience for a targeted purpose.
‘Regular’ marketing strategies use campaigns for just that purpose.
Now let’s assume you’re in the process of developing your IMC strategy – you’re establishing what integrated, consolidated message you want to reach your audience with, and you’ve selected your primary and secondary channels. You want to start tapping into the advantages that your newly minted, integrated marketing communications strategy, so what’s next?
Step 1: Adjust Your Content Strategy
Take a look at your content strategy. Have you planned out your content for the next few months? The next year? How does the content calendar look – is it standardized, with a flow of logical progression from one piece of content to the next? One of the key things to keep in mind when you’re developing your IMC campaigns is to make sure that your content strategy allows for the integration of messaging.
Many companies approach their content strategy by going with the flow across all their channels. This means they create the same content output for each individual channel – it’s something we’re all guilty of, admit it! – rather than tailoring each piece of content to each channel and its audience.
You might think that this makes it easier to create an IMC because everything is the same. Stop there for a minute and think about it – not one platform is the same as another. Just considering the differing demographics across each platform means every approach to each channel needs to be handled differently.
This is where your IMC comes in, because despite the fact that yes, you should approach all your channels with the appropriate kind of content, your message needs to be consistent.
Step 2: Integrate Your Design
If you saw a flash of yellow against red on a passing sign, chances are you’re going to think of McDonalds. If you see a bottle with white on red: you’ll think of CocaCola; if I said ‘Just do It’, Nike will pop up front and centre. Instant brand recognition is earned over time, but it starts with some basic design work.
Any visual content you put out into the world should resonate with your audience and be true to your brand image. It also needs to be consistent across all your platforms – your website, social media, and your events. Anything you put out there needs to look like your material, and the easiest way to do that is to establish an integrated set of guidelines that are part of your IMC strategy. This then informs how the creative and design for your IMC campaigns should look and feel.
Step 3: Consolidate your Message
You’ve created a solid and efficient content strategy, and your design team is rocking the socks off your campaign’s creative, awesome! Now, how about your words? What are they saying? Is your message coming across clearly and consistently? Across all your platforms? Yes? Great!
Keep in mind that your message might not even need words, it might be a silent video that speaks volumes (see what I did there?), but it does need to be clear and consistent everywhere you publish it.
That means that if you have to change the format or trim a video, that you retain the message that the content conveys. In other words, be mindful that any editing for different platforms may accidentally change the message of the content.
Think of it this way: I should be able to go onto any social media platform where your brand is active and recognize your content at a glance. I should be familiar enough with your material that if I catch a glimpse of a billboard, I should be able to recognize your brand and your brand message. That, ladies and gentlemen, is the marketing holy grail, and you can make it happen with an integrated marketing communication campaign.
Just remember that for your IMC campaign to really work your content, your designs, your method of outreach needs to resonate with your target audience on that platform but it also needs to offer the same information and voice as it does everywhere else. Your content strategy and output needs to reflect this. If you are active on Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter your material will need to be formatted differently, the content created to match those platforms. This can be as simple as making sure that any images you are using fit the recommended dimensions for the platform. Your content might need to be phrased differently – Twitter’s character limit makes this a must! – but your tone, your voice, your message should be the same.
Are you looking to get started with integrated marketing communications campaigns? We can work with you to develop both a strategy and a series of campaigns that consolidate your brand message across your website and your social media output. Get in touch and let’s get started today!