October 11, 2010

Move fast to make an integrated campaign work for you

A recession brings with it two certainties – change in consumer behaviour and reduced marketing budgets – a challenge when it comes to planning and executing an effective marketing communication plan.

With the tendency for many organisations being to eliminate entire marketing disciplines, the trick is to find a way to get the proportions right in a way to appease financial constraint and secure a return on investment.

Integrated campaigns sound expensive. The reality is, they don’t have to be. The true investment comes in spending time understanding consumer behaviour and researching the changing tendencies and/or wants of your target audiences. A clear understanding of this will mean that you’ll squander less time and money on wasted messages, and attack the target consumer with a genuinely impactful proposition.

An experienced and forward-thinking full service marketing communications agency will be able to clarify your understanding of the ever-evolving marketplace and for initial consultancy fees, you’ll be loaded with ammunition to kick start your campaign. You’ll also have a better awareness of what messages your target audience respond well to – where they research and shop, what goods/services they perceive as necessary and what they have become immune to in the current marketplace.

Once you are able to pinpoint niches in the market, you can begin to tailor a concept or campaign that addresses them. It’s also worth remembering that when times get hard, many businesses cut their spend on advertising, PR and communications. Take advantage of having less noise to distract the consumer from your brand.

Skills are heavily transferable across online and offline disciplines. Messages which dominate advertising campaigns can be the crux of PR material; material that can not only be disseminated to the press in the traditional PR sense, but can also be utilised online to improve SEO. Since Google looks for websites that constantly update themselves, it’s vital to upload well-written, insightful PR copy onto your site on a regular basis. It’ll perform even better if the PR team is able to litter the copy with keywords which will also boost the website’s chance of being picked up via web browsing.

It’s vital to understand that we live in a consumer-controlled environment where the public are becoming increasingly more powerful with regards to influencing company reputation, particularly online. Twitter, Facebook and You Tube are enabling businesses to talk to consumers and all are arenas that are shared with the very people you need to talk to. Social networking sites are also a great way to directly link the ‘boardroom’ to the end user and kick-start the dialogue between the two.

Find out what people are saying about your business in forums, blogs and listings. Are there discussions or debates that you’re not engaging with? Paying an agency to stay on top of online coverage can not only keep you in the forefront and ensure that messaging is in line with your business, but it can only require a few hours per month to do so – a relatively small investment which covers off a global domain/marketplace.

To make the most of your budget, an integrated agency is where it’s at. The ‘round table’ approach with all necessary tools in-house will save time and enable messages to be synchronised across all disciplines.

As much as sceptics would expect a marketing professional to encourage you to retain marketing spend, you’ll be surprised at how your company can influence debate, stand out from competitors and enter the consciousness of target audiences by doing so. Businesses that don’t invest are missing a trick.