How to Develop an Integrated Marketing Communications Plan

Back in 2013, Forbes detailed why today’s marketing professionals have to be proficient not only in traditional media like television, radio, and print, but also in evolving digital opportunities like social media, mobile, and viral marketing. The key to rolling out an effective campaign across multiple platforms is an integrated marketing communications plan. Here’s how to build and execute a comprehensive, integrated strategy that will keep your efforts on track and drive results.

Identify Your Customer

The first step in developing a communications plan is to determine whom you want the campaign to reach. Consider demographic factors, such as education level, gender, income, age, race, and geographic location. Then, think about behavioral and psychological traits, including things like interests, hobbies, and values. Take the time to hone a highly targeted customer profile. As FastCompany explains, this will serve as the foundation for all the strategic and creative decisions that shape the campaign.

In some cases, you may have more than one customer profile for a given campaign. In that case, be sure to complete each of the following steps for each profile, as every customer profile requires a tailored strategy within the communications plan.

Set Clear Objectives

In addition to knowing your customer, understanding your objectives is key to a successful integrated marketing communications plan. Are you looking to drive revenue, build brand awareness, develop customer affinity, or expand your reach? Once you’ve identified a general objective, flesh it out into a SMART marketing goal, which as described by HubSpot, means specific, measurable, attainable, realistic, and time-bound.

Craft the Campaign

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Image via Flickr by Rosaura Ochoa
Now that you’ve identified your target audience and set effective goals for the campaign, you’re ready to make strategic communications decisions. CIO Magazine recommends that you think seriously about which channels to focus on, and what portion of your budget to allocate to each. If you’re targeting a young, urban audience, you may choose to focus your resources on mobile and social media, while print and television might be a more effective way to reach older customers in rural areas.

One of the key functions of an integrated marketing communications plan is to enable you and your team to tailor content for each of your selected channels, while maintaining a consistent message. By using the same content in different ways across multiple channels, you create cohesion, and may be able to save money by minimizing the need for multiple creative assets.

Measure Your Success

Before launching the campaign, decide which key performance indicators (KPIs) you plan to use to measure results. Kissmetrics recommends using A/B testing to determine which headlines, images, and calls to action drive the best performance. Implement tracking to measure how well coupons and promo codes convert across different platforms and partners. Maintain open lines of communication within your team, making it easy for everyone to stay nimble and optimize the campaign as analytical data becomes available.

Thanks to the rapid evolution of content technology, marketers have more platforms to choose from than ever before. An integrated marketing communications plan makes it possible to manage a coordinated campaign across the specific platforms where your customers spend time. Use these tips to maximize the efficiency and effectiveness of your next multi-platform marketing campaign.