Spend Less, Get More-5 Steps to Integrated Marketing
Light Reading is a series of communications from MASSolutions that sheds light on common business challenges and provides solutions to strengthen your bottom line.
What do senior leaders typically think when asked to commit more resources to messaging and selling? Decision makers tend to lump Marketing, PR, Communications and Advertising together and ask:
Do we really need that?
How much does it cost?
How will we know if it is working?
Isn’t (insert name of person or department) responsible for that?
Focus on Marketing ROI Needed
Marketing and messaging professionals passionately explain their ideas but often fail to convey the Return on Investment (ROI) in terms CEO’s, CFO’s and entrepreneurs are accustomed to hearing. The end result is a lack of buy-in.
Senior leaders also tend to lose patience with multiple departments or vendors (PR, Marketing, Corporate Communications, etc.) that rarely communicate with each other as well as they should. Each function or area sees things in their own biased way.
Sales or Business Development thinks they’re king because they bring in the business, others find them arrogant and demanding. Advertising thinks they’re cool and full of big ideas, others see them as full of something else. PR talks about framing the message, other departments wonder what they really do. The end result? Senior leaders think these areas are inefficient cost centers with overlapping, duplicative efforts.
Organizations talk about getting these departments to work together but become frustrated with mixed results attributed to the type of work and workers involved. Phrases like “You know those creative people,” or “That’s marketing. They’re different,” are used to explain it away.
How can your organization overcome this cycle of frustration?
Five Steps to Integration
Champion the idea of creating a true integrated marketing and PR program by focusing on these five strategic initiatives:
- Develop mutually agreed upon target markets that messaging and selling efforts will focus on and make sure each department knows and agrees on the target markets. For example, Sales often overlooks the importance of employees as a key target market while Corporate Communications sees this group as vital. Advertising sometimes focuses too much on the creative message and neglects key target markets. Communicating the specifics about each market segment is the first step toward successful integration.
- Find out what each target market wants by asking them, through multiple channels. While engaging a market research firm is the most formal research method, don’t overlook other ways to learn about target markets. Your Sales team can ask customers and prospects what they think and track results. Corporate Communications should be able to easily survey employees. Your methodology doesn’t have to be perfect. The key takeaway is ask your customers, internal and external, what they think and act accordingly.
- Develop a consistent message and require each department to live by it. Be vigilant about message consistency but also be flexible. For example, your sales team isn’t going to use the advertising slogan all the time. Tweak the message accordingly for each target market but ensure the overall theme is still conveyed. Consider secret shopping so you can learn what your customers are really seeing and hearing.
- Work with each department or vendor on clearly defining their goals and the market forces that impact their ability to achieve those goals. Develop a summary of each department or vendor’s specific roles and strengths. Convey these key points to everyone involved. The goal is to increase the level of understanding and respect across functions.
- Instill a Corporate-Wide Marketing ROI focus. Challenge your marketing and messaging professionals to provide rationale in terms of Marketing ROI Success Metrics. Ask them to work in conjunction with Finance to build the metrics. Report the success metrics to leaders and managers throughout the organization. The more they know about your marketing, selling and messaging strategy, the better.
Developing a true Integrated Marketing, PR and Selling program doesn’t just happen. But once you invest the time and effort, you will reap the benefits of a positive Marketing ROI.
David M. Mastovich, MBA, is the president of Massolutions, a Pittsburgh based Integrated Marketing firm that focuses on improving the bottom line for client companies through creative marketing, selling, messaging and customer experience enhancement.