How To Create an Integrated Marketing Plan

Integrated Marketing Plan Campaign objectives

Marketing communications objectives form part of an organisational
hierarchy of objectives – marketing objectives cascade down from the
organisational objectives, and communication objectives cascade down
from marketing objectives.

All objectives should be ‘SMART’ – Specific,
Measurable, Achievable/Actionable, Relevant and Time-bound.

Typical marketing communications objectives could be to:

  • Differentiate a product or service from competing offers.
  • Provide information on features and benefits.
  • Create or build awareness.
  • Improve the positioning of a product, or reposition it.
  • Create a ‘call to action’ (buy now!)
  • Win new business or retain customers.

Get your Value Proposition right

A value proposition is a short, succinct statement of the bundle of
benefits that your product or service will deliver to its target audience.
This must be very specific and focus on what your customer really
wants and values.

A useful approach is to place yourself in the shoes of
the typical consumer and ask: “Why would I want to buy this product?”

It is very important to be single-minded in identifying the proposition
for any given communication.

There is a rich history behind this: Rosser
Reeves of the Ted Bates agency first identified the concept of the
Unique Selling Proposition (USP) in the early 1940s.

Nowadays it is rare
to have a product that is entirely unique – that is, head and shoulders
above any potential competitor in terms of the benefits it offers to
consumers.

However, this is not to say that
clever marketing and advertising planners can’t identify benefits even
of ‘me-too’ products and communicate these convincingly to generate
demand and sales, effectively creating a USP where none exists.

You identify a USP by putting yourself in the customer’s shoes:

  • As a customer, what do I want or need?
  • What problems do I need the product to solve?
  • What do I expect from this product/service?
  • What benefits do I get from it?
  • Why should I choose this one over competing offers?

Once you’ve identified a USP you can work out how best to
communicate it to your target audience.

Allocating Resources to Implement the Plan

You can divide organisational resources into the following four areas:

  1. Physical resources – Manufacturing capacity, retail outlets, etc.
  2. Human resources – Managerial, key staff, skills mix.
  3. Financial resources – Net worth, capital, credit reputation, cash flow, share price.
  4. Intangible resources – Brands, image, market reputation and goodwill.

To create awareness, changing attitudes and ultimately motivating people to buy, and to
do it successfully marketers need to harness all the organisation’s resources.

Communications Planning

According to author Chris Fill marketing communication plans should consist
of the following elements:

• Context analysis.
• Communication objectives.
• Marketing communication strategy.
• Co-ordinated communications mix (tools, media and content).
• Resources (human and financial).
• Scheduling and implementation.
• Evaluation and control.
• Feedback.

Setting Objectives

COMMUNICATIONS CONTEXT, OBJECTIVES AND STRATEGY

Just as you do a marketing audit when putting together a marketing
strategy and plans, so you should look at the context in which
marketing communication occurs.

They are both vital steps in the
planning process. Context analysis attempts to identify the key market
and communication drivers that are influencing the organisation and
will affect its ability to achieve its objectives. The main elements of the
context analysis are:

• The customer context – Segment characteristics, customer
perception and attitudes towards the organisation, levels of
involvement and perceived risk, the characteristics of the decisionmaking
process, media usage.

• The business context – Corporate and marketing strategy, brand
and competitive organisation analysis.

• The internal context – Corporate identity, organisational culture,
resources, strengths and weaknesses.

• The external context – The nature and power of key stakeholders,
PEST (or PESTELE) considerations, opportunities and threats, the
degree of competitive rivalry.

The context analysis will inform communications objectives, positioning
and strategy that leads to the selection of the creative message and
the appropriate media to convey that message.

Business, marketing and communications objectives
Marketing communications objectives cascade down from
marketing objectives, which in turn cascade down from
organisational objectives, which in turn stem from the organisation’s
mission statement.

McKay (1972) says there are three basic marketing objectives:

  1. Enlarge the market.
  2. Increase share of the existing market.
  3. Improve profitability with existing market share.

Marketing communications
objectives are concerned with :

• Changing customer perceptions.
• Creating/building awareness among the target group.
• Positioning (or re-positioning) a product/service.
• Influencing the target audience.
• Generating sales (volumes and/or revenues).
• Improving customer retention.
• Improving customer satisfaction.
• Supporting the launch of a new product.

Setting the right objectives is vital, as they will determine the
communication strategy as well as the campaign mix of media and the
message content.

Measuring the Integrated Marketing Plan

For any promotion to be successful, it needs to be:

• Well planned and executed.
• Part of an effective integrated promotional mix.
• Consistent with the values and mission of the organisation.

When attempting to measure effectiveness, we should bear in mind
three things:

• Are our customers’ needs being satisfied?
• How competitive is our chosen market?
• What external factors are affecting us?

Marketing research can help with all these questions. In fact, a
developed system of market sensing and a comprehensive marketing
information system (MKIS) is needed to constantly evaluate both the
marketing effort and IMC campaigns.

Here are some possible tools for measuring different aspects
of promotion:

• Personal selling – Sales revenue increases/sales targets met.
• Public relations – Editorial coverage.
• Direct marketing – Enquiries generated.
• Advertising – Brand awareness.
• Sales promotion – Coupons redeemed.
• Exhibitions – Contacts made.

Other more general techniques include:
• Amount and value of attention gained.
• Communication of defined message.
• Attitudes improved or modified.
• Liking for message and execution.
• Product preference.

Evaluating the Promotional Mix

TV advertising
This is possibly the easiest to assess, as it is the most
audited of all media. Comprehensive audience figures are available on
a daily basis, at a very detailed level of analysis. The interactivity
afforded by digital television allows us to measure audience response
by the number of clicks on the ‘red button’. Television can also be
used in a direct marketing sense by including website addresses and
telephone numbers. The difficulty, of course, is gauging the effect TV
advertising is having, particularly when viewers are increasingly
recording programmes to watch later, or watching them in ‘catchup’
mode, both of which typically mean they fast-forward through
the adverts.

PR
The traditional measures of column inches or ‘advertising value
equivalents’ can be skewed and possibly irrelevant. Is any publicity
good publicity, for example? Studies tracking specific communication
to defined target audiences seem much more appropriate.

Sales promotion
Market research can use qualitative methods to
assess the relative appeal of different potential promotions and their
likely effect on brand image.

You can pre-test to ascertain possible
redemption levels of coupons in simulated purchasing environments,
test stores, area tests and so on.

You can also use consumer and retail
panels to monitor the results of promotional activity.

Direct marketing
Concepts can be pre-tested here too. And you can
use research to follow up reactions to mailing programmes.

Personal selling
All sales can be evaluated by:
• Sales achieved (volume/value).
• Customer profitability.
• Prospects contacted.
• New customer acquisition.
• Customer satisfaction.
• New geographic areas opened up.