Integrated marketing communication needs structure and standardization to bring results.
If you are planning a marketing strategy for 2021, IMC (integrated marketing communication) plan is a must-have document. This blog post aims to help you understand the way to create, leverage and enhance your marketing communication plan.
Why do you even need a marketing communication plan?
In today’s online world, you may think that IMC (integrated marketing communication) is a thing of the past. However, this is a myth. IMC is a core concept of marketing, and that still holds true in today’s world. Actually, we can say today, having consistent, unified marketing communication is essential because that ultimately leads to trust in your brand. And trust is the key to winning B2B customers.
Today your potential B2B customers are more aware and better prepared to do background research. As a result, they will check all marketing channels your company has a presence on.
Also, many times different key decision-makers are searching for the same product for their company. Let us assume, some of them found your product or services via LinkedIn, while others watched a video on YouTube, and someone got an email from your company and decided to opt-in for the newsletter.
In this situation, if your marketing communication on different channels (like Facebook and YouTube) is not integrated, they may get confused and abandon their quest altogether.
Let us start the process!
Going back to basics, you need to identify your “Ideal Customer Avatar” or Ideal Customer Profile. It should answer a few important questions such as:
- What do your target organizations do?
- Which business are they into?
- What is their pain area?
- Who takes decisions?
- Which social media platform their key decision-makers often visit?
When you create customer surveys for your existing customers, you may find answers to some of these questions. These questions are not just for marketing communication plans alone. They also form the basis of your account-based marketing and other marketing strategies.
How to create an appeal?
Want to make your appeal emotional, logical or moral?
As a result of market surveys and the study of your ideal customer profile, you will need to create a tone in your communication.
Intent is everything in today’s B2B markets. Once you understand the intent, you need to align your communication plan accordingly. Usually, more than one type of appeal is required. It would be the best if you decide on how to create a blend of appeals, using customer research and SWOT framework as your base.
Once you have fixed your tone/appeal, make sure you have 5 to 6 lines that communicate your appeal for different marketing channels. You should not copy-paste the same lines everywhere but rather create various aspects of the same appeal.
In other words, remember to create and shape your Brand Persona.
Examine and audit your “Unique Selling Proposition” (or similar concept- Unique Value proposition).
Your communication plan should reflect your USP/UVP clearly. Often we don’t spend enough time on this. You may be thinking that your sales team already knows USP or that your organization already excels in demonstrating its USP. However, 2020 surely changed things. What was a USP in 2019 is no longer valuable now. So, you may have to think again.
There are various frameworks in helping you understand your USP.
Include various social media platforms in your communication planning!
Content-based marketing is a great way to promote products and services; however, here, we are only taking a stock of communication platforms you will be using to communicate with your potential market.
If your potential market is spending time on LinkedIn, Quora, or other platforms, make sure you have a communication plan for those platforms. This will help your potential customers notice your brand and build affinity. You can also repurpose other pieces of content and post it on the platforms that get you the best results.
Sharpen your brand tools
Logos and other elements of branding should follow contemporary design changes. It helps in creating a sense of familiarity for your potential B2B customers. There are studies that show that using familiar branding builds trustworthiness and reliability.
Please also pay attention to the minutiae; minor details of brand elements – like email headers, website pages, PDFs, etc., they all are part of your brand.
Create Metrics that capture your communication goals
A communication plan is not a blind throw. It is a meticulous strategy. And like any good strategy, it must have room to identify and use feedback to make it better.
Create goals in alignment with your overall business goal. See what your potential B2B competitors are doing. Create Specific Measurable Achievable Realistic Time-bound goals (SMART goals) for your communication plan.
In marketing, communication is the key to unlock the next level. Are you saying what your customers want to hear? Are you saying it where they want to hear it? Think about it.