An integrated marketing communication plan uses the same thematic message in different types of promotions. The idea behind the message remains consistent whether consumers see a magazine ad or the company’s web page. An integrated marketing communication plan may leverage its multiple promotion sources. A print ad might direct consumers to enter a contest or sign up for personalized savings on a website. Product packaging could play a role in an integrated marketing communications plan as well. This is often seen with rewards programs that allow consumers to “earn points” through purchases and participation in an online community.
Before you develop your message, you must determine to whom you’re going to be communicating. One of the first steps in developing an integrated marketing communications plan is identifying the customer. A customer analysis determines what makes the target consumer unique. This includes demographic characteristics, such as age, education level, gender. income, and geographic location. Once you know who you’re going to target. you’ll also need to determine how you’re going to reach your audience. An analysis identifies the media an audience is likely to use, including specific magazines, newspapers and television shows.
Once you determine who your customer is, you’ll want to create a unique identity for your brand or company. The identity that you create will be more effective if it appeals to an important need or value. Creating a unique identity, or “positioning,” is important, because it distinguishes your product from the competition. The message in your integrated marketing communications plan will embody this unique identity. Another way to think of positioning is to equate it with your main selling point.
A comprehensive integrated marketing communications plan will state specific objectives. For example, an objective of the marketing campaign might be to increase awareness by 25 percent. A second objective might be to reach the target audience twice a week during the campaign’s first quarter. The plan’s goals should be specific and measurable. You will want some way to determine whether the plan was effective. You might solicit feedback from members of your target audience to measure your objectives.
Since the best form of advertising and promotion involve spending money you’ll need to determine how much. Many plans specifically state the amount that will go toward advertisements, promotional contests, and online social media. Part of your budget will need to account for the unexpected. If your competition matches your efforts, you may need to adjust the frequency of your promotions. You might need to adjust your message and brand identity to counter the competition. Many budgets account for a year of promotional activity.