December 11, 2023 0 Comments

Integrated Marketing 101:

Best Practices for 2024 and Beyond

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Great marketing stems from great solutions that actually address your target audiences’ needs. For brands that are delivering world-changing solutions (like yours) it can be frustrating when there’s a gap between the service you offer and the potential customers who would benefit most from learning about it.

Unfortunately, this is where a lot of strategic communications teams miss the mark. When your marketing department is understaffed or working with limited budget to spend, every minute and every dollar is precious. And your bottom line is riding on it. 

So, how can we close that gap? A good PR agency or marketing firm will help you make sure your various marketing channels are working together, like an ecosystem. Integrated marketing is the practice of ensuring all of your marketing messages consistently convey your brand’s values and differentiators. It’s about ensuring a single voice and narrative at every touchpoint, so customers cannot possibly miss what you stand for — and what you deliver. 

The world of communications is ever-evolving, with AI innovations, sales management pipelines, third-party vendors, newsroom pressures, and algorithmic shifts. But that foundational philosophy of consistent messaging stands the test of time — and can provide a steady base to help your marketing program weather any storms on the horizon after the holiday dust settles. 

As we wind down Q1 of 2023, the Trust Relations team is taking it back to basics. As a PR and integrated marketing agency, our role is to help you achieve as much integration as possible. So, here are the core principles of integrated marketing that we advise every brand should consider.

1. Put Yourself in Customers’ Shoes

Ultimately, the purpose of strategic communications is to think from your target audience’s point of view. When you understand them, you can develop solutions to meet their needs. All of your brand communications should be a direct extension of what your company is doing in the real world, to make their lives better. When that message resonates, it compels the target audience to take action. (Think: Register today! Subscribe below! Add to cart! Reach out for a consultation!)

Sure, you can create content that is consistent across all channels, but if it’s not speaking to your audience in a meaningful way, what good is that? The content you develop should address their pain points head-on and speak to your audience in their language. What a potential customer hopes to get from your blog is quite different from what a social media follower might be looking for, or what Google wants to see on your website, or what a journalist needs from your PR team. Understanding those different needs is as critical as ever as many markets become increasingly saturated. 

2. Content Matters, but Only if It’s Targeted

Great content and media coverage will get you noticed, but that doesn’t mean it’s always effective at driving sales. By understanding your target audience and the context of where your brand fits into their lives, you can tailor the key messaging in your earned media outreach and owned platforms specifically for them. 

Consider a mid-priced hotel, for example. To maximize occupancy rates, the hotel likely wants to reach silver nomads, young families, business travelers, and young tourists. The messages may all stem from the same premise (e.g. “We take the time to make your stay enjoyable”), but how the hotel says this and where it says it will differ wildly, in order to reach its diverse target audiences: 

    • The hotel might spread its messages across all owned assets and utilize SEO strategies to ensure its target audiences find it on top search engines when beginning their travel research.
    • The hotel may also leverage TikTok by posting quirky videos with rich metadata, so globetrotting Gen Z-ers (who now use this platform as its primary search platform, over Google) see what the hotel offers.
    • The hotel may simultaneously seed messages and ads across Facebook-owned assets to reach young families that aspire to take more time for themselves and make more memories. 
    • The hotel might also pursue media placements and contributed articles in key travel blogs and trade publications, to reach avid travelers already seeking their next adventure.

No matter what industry you’re in, context matters. It can make or break a campaign, depending on how well the brand understands and tailors its messaging to the intended audience.

3. Personalization Drives Engagement

With an increasingly accessible warehouse of tools now available to marketers, mining through data for customer insights and leveraging it is easier than ever—and doing so can have a positive impact. Statistics from Adobe show that 67%  of consumers believe it’s important for brands to adjust content based on context and insight. 

Imagine this scenario: In September, a customer bought wine online. She got six bottles of a specific white wine and six bottles of an award-winning red wine. The vendor now knows what she likes, and could do two core things to improve that customer relationship.

    1. Send a text message that asks about one of those wines: “Hey, thanks for the recent purchase of Vino Time Wines. We hope you are enjoying it and would love to know if you are. Please reply with a YES, if so. If not, reply NO.”
    2. In a couple of months, they can leverage the reply and automate a script in their system to follow up with one of several relevant messages.
      • “It has been a couple of months since you purchased our award-winning cabernet. We know you loved it, so we’re offering you a new case at a discounted price.” 
      • “It has been a couple of months since you purchased our award-winning cabernet. It wasn’t your style, so we wanted to tell you about a new wine that we think will suit your palate.”
      • “It has been a couple of months since you purchased our award-winning cabernet. We have a new wine that we think you will love just as much, and it is on sale today!”

What the consumer sees is that there is similar, on-brand messaging, tailored to her with specific knowledge about her tastes and preferences. She feels special, heard and that the brand understands her. The benefits of this approach are huge. 

The same idea of personalization holds true across the entire marketing spectrum. The best PR agencies know a reporter will respond more often to media pitches that are custom-tailored to their coverage areas and personal preferences. Readers will resonate best with contributed articles that fill a knowledge gap in their unique areas of interest. Social media followers will have more interest in hearing about a brand if the message comes from an influencer they trust. 

Research has shown that for every $1 spent on personalization, there can be up to a $20 return on investment. And customers are only expecting increasing levels of personalization. 

4. Repurposing Content is Essential

In 2024, the repurposing of content across different platforms and channels will only continue to expand. Why should an article or blog be used once? Why can’t the information in it be reused for social posts or infographics? Why does a podcast have to be an audio-only experience? Elements of the discussion can be reused for metadata on the website and to enrich your SEO. The options for repurposing content are almost endless—if your PR agency and marketing teams know how to do it. 

Repurposing content gets you more bang for your marketing bucks, and can support other areas of your broader communications planning. Your PR team, for example, can use blog posts, case studies and social media clips to boost your media relations outreach and add color to their pitches. 

The bottom line is this: Brands should personalize messaging as much as possible, with whatever knowledge they have of each customer, to ensure those customers feel special and understood—especially in a day and age where customers are increasingly accustomed to brands tracking and using their data to craft customized messages. And this kind of cohesion leads to greater and greater consistency across channels and more cost-effective content for better ROI.

But those basic principles are essential. With how quickly communications tools have changed over the last few years, it can be easy for the Golden Rules to get lost in the shuffle. In the year ahead, brands need to ensure they keep their content consistent and optimized across all platforms. Need a hand with your 2024 plan? We’re here for you. Reach out for a consultation!

AUTHOR

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Trust Relations Team