What Is Integrated Marketing? And What Role Does Social Media Need to Play for My Small Business?

what is integrated marketingHave you ever tried to come up with a single approach that works for all of your marketing efforts (digital, radio, TV etc.)? If so, you'll know that it's difficult because each channel has it’s own unique set of benefits and challenges.

So what do you do? Many advertisers today are finding it essential to have an integrated marketing approach. But exactly what is integrated marketing? And in today’s digital landscape, what role does social media need to play for my small business in any integrated marketing strategy?

There are a few things you should know before you decide to implement an integrated marketing strategy, which will ensure a consistent marketing message across all channels. This post will tell you what you need to know to make sure you develop an integrated marketing plan that will enable you to successfully tie all of your marketing efforts together for a consistent, unified brand message.

What Exactly Is Integrated Marketing?

The term “integrated marketing” might sound like just another buzzword to you. And it’s true that the phrase can be open to interpretation, depending on how much marketing experience you might have. However, integrated marketing can be narrowly defined as “the combination of marketing tactics to help deliver one marketing strategy and more quickly build know, like and trust.” Integrated marketing is more about the blocking and tackling of delivering a consistent message across channels than it is about more nebulous concepts like branding and strategy.

True integrated marketing creates a unified and seamless experience for consumers when they interact with your business or brand, regardless of which touchpoint or channel it is. Integrated marketing attempts to meld all aspects of marketing communication (as well as some aspects of customer experience) to achieve this kind of messaging unity. This usually includes (but is not limited to): advertising, sales promotion, public relations, direct marketing and social media. The process is designed to ensure consistency of messaging and communications strategies across all channels, and most importantly, that said messaging is customer-centric.

How are you managing your social media content? Download our free guide to learn the best practices all business owners need. 

Finally, a fully optimized integrated marketing approach utilizes customer data generated by marketing efforts to improve other areas, such as product development, pricing, distribution and customer experience.

Best Practices

Effective integrated marketing will obviously vary depending on your business, industry, and target market. But here are some general best practices that you should be aware of:

  • Consistent calls to action - Your marketing should have a call to action to convert potential customers. This can be calling a salesperson, signing up for a newsletter, or requesting a demo. No matter what it is, make sure that the ask is the same on TV, radio, social media, or any other medium.
  • Uniform branding across channels - If someone sees a TV commercial for your business, then goes to your website, the brand messaging (color, design, etc.) should be consistent. They shouldn’t have to think twice about whether or not they’re in the right place.
  • Drive traffic to digital channels - Digital is powerful because you’re able to analyze behavior patterns, capture customer data, and engage with prospects one-on-one. Don’t forget to use mediums like TV and radio to drive traffic to your website or social media in one way or another.
  • Optimize creative for different media - While your branding should be uniform across channels, the creative and design needs to be tweaked and optimized for each medium. Key images, for example, should be created in different resolutions so the best looking one can be used in digital, print, or social media channels.

What Role Does Social Media Need to Play for My Small Business?

All businesses, large or small, need to have a social media presence in today’s world. Consumers simply expect your brand to be on social media in some way, shape or form. The primary use of social media for businesses is to engage with consumers directly. It’s more of an interactive conversation than other forms of marketing. But don’t confuse social media with other forms of digital branding, such as your website. Websites are great for consumers to educate themselves about your business, while social media invites people to ask questions, post complaints or review your product/service.

With regards to integrated marketing, social media is wonderful channel to keep the conversation going with customers and prospects. It primes them to buy even if they’re not at that stage in the sales process. Social media is also great for driving traffic back to your website, where they’ll learn more about your business and potentially engage with your main call to action. Some general tips for using social media to market your small business include: find your target audience, use language specific to your market, show your industry expertise, highlight your differentiating factors and measure social media engagement.

Social media plays a particularly effective role in terms of integrated marketing when combined with radio. There are a number of ways small businesses can boost their social media presence with radio, and vice versa. For example, you can highlight a social media promotion campaign on radio ads or mentioning hashtags unique to your social media marketing during radio spots. Another way that social media and radio work together perfectly is by sharing intriguing snippets of radio ads on social media (think Vine or Facebook video) to create a cross-channel “theater of the mind” affect. Social media and radio are also great for cross-promoting upcoming live events and appearances that your small business will be present at.

Hopefully by now you’ve realized that integrated marketing is more than just a trendy marketing buzzword. It’s an overall set of tactics and best practices that unifies all of your marketing efforts, social media and radio included, to create a compelling brand message for your small business no matter what channel your customers prefer.

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