It’s the “level-up” marketing hack for small businesses and nonprofits.
Truth telling time… Small businesses need some of the same tools and components to grow as large and enterprising businesses but cannot and should not be paying as much as those large businesses. No matter what your business is, you need sales, marketing, public relations, accounting, and operations. However, you cannot always afford to pay for those services, so you wind up doing it yourself. The problem with that is, it may not be your niche and messing it up could cause problems with your business. The only fix is to find those services at small business prices or learn to do it yourself.
To save time and money, it would be wise to adopt an innovative approach to increasing your brand awareness, company exposure, and media outreach. Integrated communications help to project a unified experience for your potential customers, current clients, and the general public. If done correctly, there is a seamless union of storytelling, social media marketing, advertising, social selling, and public relations. When you incorporate different media channels, methods, and activities across platforms and outlets with consistent customer-centered messaging, it’s a win. Think about it, Coke has the same message no matter where you see it, on social media, in a mailer, in a story about somebody drinking Coke, or on a billboard. Have a Coke and a smile. We all have the same experience with this brand. It is consistent. Now, they are paying more than a smaller brand but you get the idea. And of course, it would cost less on a smaller scale. You can do the same for your company on a localized, state, or regional scale.
A BETTER PLAN FOR BETTER RESULTS
Most of us have been taught from the lens of big business which traditionally means planning separate campaigns for direct marketing, media outreach, partnerships and collaborations, social media management, and advertising sales promotions. An integrated communications plan would use some of the same tools in a way that consistently conveys the same message through various different channels without compartmentalizing the work. It is more of a flow.
Here is a great example. If you have an event coming up, a new product or service that you will offer, focus on your customers, and target market. Who are they? What is the information that is most important to convey to them? This is the information that you include in press releases and any feature articles. Any paid advertising should also include this information. Use direct mail or email to follow up inquiries from the advertising and press campaigns. Any leads should be directly called or emailed using some of the same information. Keep the message and content consistent. Social media is another tool for reaching out to your clients and prospects. Keeping the same message plays into The Rule of 7. Consumers usually take action after the 7th time of encountering your brand. With consistent content, you have a solid focus on your offerings and what you need for the public to do.
CONSISTENCY IS THE KEY
High resolution pictures, phrases, key words, and the call to action should be the same in an integrated campaign. Repetition helps to ensure that prospects and customers receive consistent messages with each interaction with your brand. Brand awareness is built through several different channels displaying your name, offerings, catch phrases, logo, and colors. The public should never be confused when they go from one of your channels to the other. That includes your website, social media, mailers, displays, and emails.
Consistency also saves you money when you run integrated campaigns. When you are using the same images, similar or the same copy, you reduce your time with design, video production, and copywriting. Videos can be used across platforms and included in newsletters and emails.
WHAT’S THE MODALITY?
People consume information differently. With so many mediums available, there is no way to ensure that each person will see everything that you put out. Most people have 2-3 ways that they prefer to consume content. An integrated campaign allows for clients and business associates to get specific as to how they want to receive direct information. It may be via email, direct mail, text message or telephone. The great thing about integration ensures that the general public and prospects receive the same information in all communications. Again, consistency leads to growth and builds greater brand awareness and brand loyalty. Your followers and clients start to depend on the info, products, and services that you provide. For you as a business owner and leader, that is a good thing.
To get better, grow faster, and be more effective building brand awareness as a small business, you must think different about how you market and promote your business. An integrated communications approach gives your small business the potential to get better results from your campaigns and reduce marketing costs. Instead of boxing-in your efforts and isolating them, use a blended approach. Multiple channels with the same information are the most streamline way to grow brand loyalty and increase the notoriety of your business. Modern technology has given way to multiple platforms that reinforce your efforts and message output. It also gives you the opportunity to be creative in how you deliver your content and message. Do not settle for the basic, boring, and old methods that you were taught about marketing and public relations. Integrate, elevate, and empower your brand with a stronger, louder voice.