With the wide range of communication tools available today, it is important to ensure that marketing communication efforts are integrated and coordinated. Developing a marketing plan for integrated marketing communications involves first identifying specific target markets. Then marketers must thoroughly understand market needs, identify available communication options and create plans to coordinate those options most effectively to minimize costs and optimize results. Finally, monitoring and measuring results -- and making changes to plans as necessary -- will help to ensure success.
Identifying Specific Target Markets and Needs
The first step in developing an integrated marketing communication plan is specifically identifying target markets. Marketers are well served to focus on specific market segments based on both demographic and psychographic characteristics. Demographic characteristics are things like age, sex, income or geography. Psychographic characteristics relate to consumer preferences or lifestyles. The more marketers know about the traits and characteristics of their target market segments, the better they will be able to identify specific communication tools and messages that resonate with their audiences.
Identifying Communication Options
Today's marketers benefit from a broad range of communication tools from the traditional (newspaper, television, radio) to new media options (websites, blogs, social media). The choice of communication options will depend on the market being targeted and their preferences and activities. For instance, a marketer hoping to target businesspeople who are interested in technology might choose business or trade publications or might connect with target audience members online through social media channels like LinkedIn. For this audience, a mass market tool like television advertising would probably not be the best choice.
Coordinating Communication Options
Rarely will a single communication option be sufficient to achieve maximum results. This is where integration comes in. Successful marketers will use a variety of tools, in combination, to attempt to achieve maximum results. The coordination of those options will include considerations of both type and timing. A consumer marketer, for instance, may use a combination of television, radio, newspaper, print media and online social media to connect with various market segments. They may lead off their communication effort with mass media (television) and then specifically focus on niche target segments through newspaper and radio advertising and social media efforts.
Monitoring and Measuring Results
Once an integrated marketing campaign has been implemented, the marketer will need to monitor and measure results and, in some cases, make adjustments to plans based on what they find. Certain elements of the campaign may be discontinued due to poorer-than-expected results. Other elements may be increased or extended due to positive results. In addition, the results of the campaign will serve as an important input for future advertising efforts.