How Do I Create an Integrated Marketing Plan?

Maggie Worth

In order to create a successful integrated marketing plan, you must be willing to dedicate time and energy to organization and strategy. You will need to identify and describe your goals, target audiences and main messages. You will then need to evaluate the marketing channels you use or intend to use and determine how each one can best help you reach your primary objectives. Once you have developed the plan, you will need to clearly communicate both the plan and its benefits to those responsible for carrying out marketing initiatives.

Businesswoman talking on a mobile phone
Businesswoman talking on a mobile phone

Most experts agree that success of an integrated marketing plan depends largely on clearly defined goals. After all, if you don't know what you want to accomplish, it's hard to make a solid plan. You will probably find that you have primary goals and secondary goals. Primary goals might be to increase brand awareness of your company and improve sales. Secondary goals might be to increase the number of large accounts and to incorporate a new product line into the brand family.

You will also need to determine your primary audience or audiences and consider how they prefer to receive information. For example, if your primary target audience is senior citizens, newspaper and television advertising is probably going to be more important than social media campaigns. If your primary market is teenagers, however, you may want to focus heavily on social media and mobile advertising. You will want to evaluate your product and service offerings carefully because you may have more than one primary audience and your integrated marketing plan should address each of them.

Each audience will also have different values and priorities, so you will need to form your messages with this in mind. Remember that a true integrated marketing plan will deliver the same main messages, but might format them differently according to the medium and audience. For example, a college has two primary audiences: future students and the people, such as parents, teachers and friends, who influence the decisions those students make. A student is likely to have drastically different areas of interest in a potential college than a parent would have. A successful integrated marketing campaign will consider how the university can best communicate its strengths to both audiences in a way that will appeal to each.

The most common mistake businesses make when forming an integrated marketing plan often is leaving out channels. For example, a business might do a great job of aligning its television, radio and print advertising but then develop product packaging that doesn't deliver the same message. Another company might work hard to ensure that its email advertising and social media campaigns are in line with one another, but then produce brochures that convey a completely different impression of the company. You'll want to avoid this pitfall by capturing and addressing every medium you use to market your business, including advertising, packaging, standardized letters and emails, social media, collateral, product displays, in-store signage and customer service scripts.

It also is important to remember to communicate your goals and strategies to the people who will be carrying them out. They may have ideas you haven't thought of and may be able to incorporate your messages into daily activities that can't be planned in advance. The best integrated marketing plan will still fail if it isn't executed properly.

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