Why Integrated Marketing Communications is Essential for Small Businesses

How can Integrated Marketing Communications help me, the small business owner?

Integrated Marketing Communication is essential to small business owners because they, even more so than large corporations can not afford to misspend or waste money on a single isolated marketing effort.

For instance, as a small business owner, it may be tempting to focus on one aspect of marketing – a new website, a direct mail campaign, radio ads or as a manufacturer, simply letting your partners market for you. However, what happens if that one piece of marketing doesn’t work?

ANSWER: Your entire marketing effort fails.

Instead, wouldn’t it be great to have an integrated marketing plan that takes the best parts of online marketing such as websites, email newsletters, search engine optimization, and pay-per-click advertising and use that to make your traditional, offline efforts such as direct mail, advertising and public relations even more effective.

For instance, this may be as simple as making sure that your website has the same key words as your radio advertising and that your banners at the little league games also have the same message. To internalize a message, a person must be exposed to it several times. If you hit them three times with three different messages it is nearly the same as being exposed only once. Even worse, it could be confusing and disorienting, resulting in a negative experience with your brand.

Integrated Marketing Communications addresses this issue by creating a plan with a consistent message and then delivering it through as many media as possible, online and offline.

What are the components of an integrated marketing plan?

An Integrated Marketing Communications (IMC) plan should draw from all communications disciplines available, including online, offline, and interpersonal.

Online marketing channels include any e-marketing campaigns or programs, from search engine optimization (SEO), pay-per-click, affiliate, email, banner to latest web related channels for webinar, blog, RSS, podcast, and Internet TV. Offline marketing channels are traditional print (newspaper, magazine), mail order, public relation, billboard, radio, and television. Interpersonal marketing includes participating in community groups, networking organizations, your handshake, how you dress, and even how you answer the phone or return calls.

While not every communication discipline needs to be included for each campaign, it is important for any integrated marketing practitioner to be well versed in the various components so that he or she can select the ones most appropriate for a specific client’s budget and demands.

Is it better to go with an agency, or shop for individual services myself?

While both have benefits, an agency can be a benefit if you don’t already have a network of trusted service providers including printers, promotional products companies, tradeshow planners etc. who are familiar with your business. Often times, an agency can get things done for a client faster, more efficiantly and with better quality for the same or lower price. Plus, as a business owner you have to factor in the time you may spend shopping for the best price and reading reviews to make sure that the best price doesn’t give you the worst services.

However, the cost of each component shouldn’t be your primary concern when evaluating an integrated marketing plan. Instead, look at the expense and benefits of the entire plan working together. For instance, a website might cost $2,000 to build and then you might spend $10,000 in pay-per-click advertising over the next year, but if the content on the website doesn’t match the message on your direct mail, or your customer service people aren’t able to answer questions about the website then you wasted a lot of money.

Instead, don’t look at the website as a single entity. Make sure that it is perfectly integrated into your marketing strategy:

* Promote it at all opportunities. This includes not just pay-per-click ads, but also on business cards, in radio ads, even place a sticker on your products letting customers know they can download copies of the product manuals there, and print it on your receipts telling customers to download coupons on the website.

* Develop an email newsletter to offer your customers and prospective customers news and information they can use – not just a brochure to sell your products.

* Create a blog and allow people to subscribe to it. This will build trust and familiarity between your customers and your company. Don’t limit blog posts to just the president, sometimes a post from a project manager or even the receptionist can keep the blog interesting and attention grabbing.

* Create a contest – but make sure the message is consistent with your integrated marketing strategy. Have people visit your website to enter.

* If you run an advertisement promoting a specific service, make sure that that your customers can find more information about it quickly and easily. Perhaps even put a graphic at the top of your page saying “Attention 99.5 listeners, Click Here to Learn More about Gutter Cleaning”

Those are just some examples for how you can integrate your marketing plan and maximize the initial investment you made by building a website.

Isn’t an an integrated marketing communication just like any other marketing plan?

A marketing plan can be just a marketing plan for a website, or a marketing plan for an advertising campaign, but an Integrated Marketing Communications plan involves all aspects of marketing, across the entire company. This means that you are integrated all aspects of the company into a single cohesive plan.

After all you could have a great website marketing plan, an awesome advertising campaign and an award winning PR agency, but if a customer reads a press release or hears your ad and decides to visit your website where he can’t find more info about your PR or advertising message what’s the point of spending the money in the first place?

Uninterrupted Communication Facility With the Eventual Communications Interoperability Services

Present day communication systems demand flawless connectivity and eventual transfer of vital information uninterrupted. For this type of facility it requires to avail the service of the companies that are capable and are known to be the best in the field of communications interoperability. This meticulous feature enables an individual to share information over long distances with any disturbances in the voice data transfers. In most cases such a technology is usually adopted by the government agencies, which require transferring such type of voice information and data over long distances.

Taking the example of the voice communication that is used by the law enforcement agencies to communicate with the law enforcement agents spread across a particular region. For purposes as such the communications interoperability is pretty useful. This is because the concerned agency is able to connect and communicate with their agents via this technology. However, a complex technology as such requires being flawless as in most cases many vital information are shared over this. In addition, this technology is used in the process of intercepting message as well. This shows the stakes that are involved in creating such an example of modern technology.

Even such kind of technology can be used by the major business sectors. This will be helpful as the entrepreneur will be able to get in touch with their executives at any time and any where. But the instances to use such technology in the business are few. However, the military and government security agencies are known to implement such a technology for their communication needs. They require this technology more than any other. In addition, to support their communication purpose there are eventual communication trailers too, which are apparently designed to provide them communication connectivity with Wi-Fi connectivity. This might serve the purpose of accessing internet at high speeds in the camps and other mobile establishments of the government law enforcement and security. Communication trailers are actually a mobile transportable vehicle trailer that can be moved from place to place. This technology is especially supportive for the security agencies as they need to camp in some remote places from where they are not able to receive any connectivity.

However, with the communication trailers it is possible to carry on the activities even in the remote places. As the communication trailer is built with the technology to provide access to connection with any sort of Wi-Fi connectivity enabled device, it really is a resourceful object for the government agencies. In addition, these technologies discussed above are no doubt very helpful the defense bodies, law enforcement agencies and government agencies, but there is another modern technology that needs mentioning. The technology is the modern day’s tactical radio systems. These radio systems are varied from the old models in many aspects. Like they have the communications interoperability technology in them to exchange information at higher frequencies and also intercept vital information from any frequency equivalent to theirs. These tactical radio systems are able to share voiced information in much better way than their forefathers, which apparently means the concerned agencies will be able to stay in touch with their peers, despite of their remote locations.

Integrated Marketing Communications – 5 Primary Communication Tools

Communication is always one of the most important and vital strategic areas of an organization’s success. You can have the best or most innovative products or services, but if your internal and external communications are weak, then the demand for your products or services raises a personal flag of concern. When communicating the value of your products or services, you want to focus on how they will benefit your clients.

When planning your strategy for Integrated Marketing Communication or IMC, you want to have dialogue with your customers by inviting interaction through the coordinated efforts of content, timing and delivery of your products or services. By ensuring direction, clarity, consistency, timing and appearance of your messages, conveyed to your targeted audience, these factors will help avoid any confusion about the benefits of your brand, through the connection of instant product recognition.

When looking at your marketing mix, you’re examining price, distribution, advertising and promotion, along with customer service. Integrated marketing communication is part of that marketing mix included in your marketing plan. IMC strategies define your target audience, establishes objectives and budgets, analyzes any social, competitive, cultural or technological issues, and conducts research to evaluate the effectiveness of your promotional strategies.

If companies are ethically planning, communicating, and following industry guidelines, they will most likely earn the trust of their customers and target audience. There are five basic tools of integrated marketing communication:

1. Advertising:

This tool can get your messages to large audiences efficiently through such avenues as radio, TV, Magazines, Newspapers (ROP), Internet, Billboards and other mobile technological communication devices. This method can efficiently reach a large number of consumers, although the costs may be somewhat expensive.

2. Sales Promotion:

This tool is used through coupons, contests, samples, premiums, demonstrations, displays or incentives. It is used to accelerate short-term sales, by building brand awareness and encouraging repeat buying.

3. Public Relations:

This integrated marketing communications tool is initiated through public appearances, news/press releases or event sponsorships, to build trust and goodwill by presenting the product, company or person in a positive light.

4. Direct Marketing:

This tool will utilized email, mail, catalogs, encourage direct responses to radio and TV, in order to reach targeted audiences to increase sales and test new products and alternate marketing tactics.

5. Personal Selling:

Setting sales appointments and meetings, home parties, making presentations and any type of one-to-one communication, to reach your customers and strengthen your relationship with your clients, initiate this IMC tool.

Decisions linking the overall objectives and strategies during the marketing planning phases help to evaluate and fine-tune the specific activities of integrated marketing communication. Before selecting an IMC tool, marketing, product and brand managers must look at social, competitive, legal, regulatory, ethics, cultural and technological considerations. One thing you want to avoid when activating the tools of integrated marketing communication is reaching inappropriate audiences and causing controversy. That could be damaging when trying to build brand awareness and encourage consumer spending with your company. When marketing managers examine the beliefs, emotions and behavior of their targeted audience towards their brand, they can influence their beliefs to achieve product awareness, by attracting attention to their promotional campaigns.