How to Create an Effective Integrated Marketing Communications Strategy

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Part of building a brand means standing out, differentiating yourself from competitors. It might be tempting to jump on the latest marketing trend, but it may not fit your brand or make you look like a follower, not a leader. An Integrated Marketing Communications (IMC) strategy can help. Customized to meet unique campaign goals, an IMC strategy outlines core messaging, showcases your competitive advantage, fits your target audience, and is tailored for specific channels. Doing so helps ensure consistent messaging, regardless of channel.

No matter how big or small your brand may be, having an IMC strategy can make the difference between being perceived as a leader or follower. How can you create an effective IMC strategy that builds brand awareness and delivers results?

The first step toward developing a strategy requires you identify and understand your target audience – who they are, their behaviors, preferences, and buying tendencies. Consider a target audience that is broad enough to provide focus, but not so specific that it limits your potential. Use research and consumer insights to better understand the audience. Take advantage of surveys, interviews, and focus groups to help capture behaviors and opinions. What you learn will help you decide channels and craft messaging appropriate to the defined audience. Knowing and understanding who you’re targeting will help guide your path to success.

As a brand, you need to know where you stand in the market and in the eyes of your target audience. You can do this with a SWOT analysis. Put yourself in the shoes of your target audience to identify and evaluate your strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats. Think hard about where your product or service really shines. Consider conducting a SWOT analysis on the competition as well. Doing both will help you identify more clearly what sets you apart and gives you a competitive edge.

Once you’ve decided campaign goals, defined target audience, and decided exactly what you want to promote, it’s time to get creative. Before developing any big ideas, think about everything you already know or have learned about your audience, their behaviors, and preferences. Think about what distinguishes you from competitors. Discuss all as a team and brainstorm. Don’t hold back – put every idea on the table. Great ideas come from digging deep. Think about how to communicate the same message across different channels. While brainstorming, ask yourself: Do our ideas appeal to our target audience? Do they fit in with what we’ve learned and what we are trying to achieve? Are they hard for a competitor to duplicate? Being different means being bold, so don’t be afraid to be adventurous and try new things.

Once you’ve defined your strategy and messaging and/or creative is ready to go, it’s time to execute your Integrated Marketing Communications strategy. Whether it’s website visits, sales leads, or other, you also need to measure impact. Use that data to make adjustments and keep in mind that a strong IMC strategy is always evolving. Modifying your approach to improve performance is a necessary part of the process and the best way to ensure success.

Jumping on marketing trends is a short-term effort with short-term results. Consumers love brands with new ideas that speak to them in a way that means something to them. Get to know your audience, competitors, and yourself and create a strategy that fits your brand and drives the results you are looking for. With an IMC strategy in place, find joy in building a strong brand that stands apart from competitors and positions you as a leader.

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