From my experience the best integrated marketing campaigns are driven by a process of discovery, problem solving and collaboration between the client-agency team. Because this process unlocks consumer insights and uses a detailed diagnosis of the marketing problem it invites the team to look at problems from different angles, challenge the status quo and inspires them to come up with breakthrough communications.
1. Consumer Data & Insights
The first step is to understand your target audience by using data and insights to develop pen-portraits of your best customers.
To create these pen-portraits review customer demographics, product usage rates, media consumption and research. Also, analyze your competitors and get Internet usage statistics for your products. These channel metrics should include – online click-through rates, keyword searches, direct mail response rates, email open rates, and phone conversion metrics – to assess how your best customers respond to various media formats.
This will assist the team answer these critical questions.
- Who are our best customers?
- How do we best communicate with them and attract more?
- What are their attitudes towards the brand, product benefits, customer service, and content?
- What is driving their willingness to apply?
- What are their passions and motivations?
- What are the common characteristics that our top customers share?
2. Marketing Positioning & Customer Experience Mapping
Successful marketers understand how their product or brand is currently positioned in the market, because it allows them to reposition and differentiate their communications. To determine the dimensions supporting your product or brand positioning you may need to conduct focus groups with your target audience, and test different messages to uncover what resonates best.
If you are repositioning your communications it makes sense to also refresh your website and improve the online customer experience. By mapping the end-to-end online customer journey on your website, plus analyzing page traffic, links, online forms, content and functional design, you can start to streamline the customer experience. Use an expert like an agency Digital Planner or Information Architect to help you optimize your online content and media strategy.
How do your customers reach your website? This answer is to map the entire pre-purchase journey and buying process. For instance, a Hotel may find their customers view holiday photos from friends/family on Flickr, read the Sunday paper travel section for inspiration, then search on Tripadvisor or travel blogs to get recommendations, and finally compare prices on Priceline.com or Expedia before making a reservation. By understanding the purchase process you can now insert your media into the user experience, such as banners on Travel specific sites or cross-sell links on travel booking conformation pages.
3. Agency Brief
I believe the agency brief is a dynamic process and not just one-way communication from the client to the agency. Therefore I recommend using a workshop create the brief using the steps below.
- Create a vision for repositioning/refreshing the communications platform, put the strategy into context for the team plus outline targets and key milestones. Ask the team to present the latest consumer research and market trends
- You can task several members of the team with presenting best practice and a review of competitors and any previous communications. Collaborate with team and get them to contribute their ideas, share expertise, and learning’s to create the outline of the brief.
- Ensure you have the best talent and diversity in the workshop so include from the Agency – Account Manager, Planner, Art Director, Digital Planner, Media team, and from the client – Marketing, Finance (yes the bean counters…and if you include them they’re more likely to approve your budget) and PR.
The workshop brings everyone up to speed quickly, generates new ideas and different perspectives, to develop solutions for your key marketing communications problems. You’ll find the agency-client team will work better, smarter and faster since people understand the strategy, customers, objectives and who to turn to for information.
The final brief should include the customer pen-portraits, a map of the online customer experience and buying process, competitor products, an overview of the marketing strategy, the communications problem to solve, product or brand positioning research, targets and metrics.
4. Creative Development & Testing
At this stage the agency has developed several different creative platform concepts and positioning statements. But many new communications fail to deliver results because marketers second-guess consumer reactions, or go with their gut instinct, rather than using a more robust process to evaluate the creative work.
An inexpensive and fast method of testing creative is online panels or forums. These show the creative concepts to your target segment – testing the appeal, excitement, consideration and intent to apply. For your website, customer labs can be a great way to test new navigation and the online customer experience.
Your new integrated communications platform will contain online media and content – including banners, email newsletters, blogs, podcasts, whitepapers, e-books, webinars, and refreshed product pages – that will appeal to your targets audience and align with your marketing objectives.
Throughout the process, work with your media agency to enhance your prospect targeting strategy. It's also important to create search engine terms that integrate with your communications to drive awareness. Finally, ensure consistency across your communications by integrating the new creative in your offline channels like direct mail, press, radio and TV.
You're now ready to launch your successful new integrated marketing communications, website and media plan.