Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Creating an Integrated Marketing Message

Your customers are redefining the way they want to shop for products and services. They may research your company online and then call you to ask questions. They may visit your brick-and-mortar location, or receive a catalog, and then buy from you online.

The goal is to have all of your marketing efforts supporting each other and working together to promote your company and its products and services. Here are some tips to help you integrate your marketing message across many channels:

Put your Web address on EVERYTHING.
It may seem obvious, but include your Web address on every piece of promotional material that will be seen by your customers and prospects. Make sure its on your letterhead, business cards, direct mail packages, postcards, print ads, collateral brochures, TV spots, flyers, coupons, premium items…everything.

Use a consistent brand image.
Be consistent in your branding and company image, as well as in your branding of a particular product or service. Customers and prospects should be able to look at your Web site, direct mail, print ads, emails, banner ads, and TV spots and know that they all came from your company. This means that in addition to brand standards for offline marketing materials, you need branding guidelines for online materials that make sense for electronic media.

Make a graphic statement.
Along the same lines as brand image, your materials should all follow the same graphic standards. If your company has an approved color palette, follow that color scheme on everything you do. You may use specific fonts and photos or images in a consistent manner. That doesn’t mean everything needs to look exactly alike. For instance, a banner ad should look different than a print ad. It’s a different medium and may call for a different design. However,
viewers should be able to recognize that they are both promoting the same company.

Create a unified tone.
Your company’s business philosophy and mission should be consistently portrayed on all of your materials. Your company’s tone and voice should be the same on everything you do. It should seem like one person wrote all of your marketing materials. Customers will feel like they know you and will put their trust in you if they can hear a consistent, reassuring voice in everything you create.

Integrated marketing campaigns.
It is especially important that customers and prospects feel comfortable crossing over marketing channels within a specific campaign or promotion. If they jump from one medium to another and the message, graphics, and content suddenly change, you will lose them in the transfer. The transition across multiple channels of communication should be seamless for the customer or prospect.

• Send a direct mail package and follow up with an email message. Communicate the same key benefits and offer in the email as in the direct mail package.
• Run TV spots for a product or service sending prospects to your Web site. The landing page they reach needs to look, feel, and sound like the message they heard on TV with more information and a method to respond.
• Email customers and ask them to respond to an offer on your Web site or come into your brick-and-mortar location. The link you provide to a Web address needs to take them to a page that specifically relates to the email content. In addition, the store should contain promotional materials that reinforce the offer and sales staff need to be prepared to honor coupons or take special discounts.
• Offer flyers with coupons or special discounts for in-store customers to make a purchase online. These special offers could take customers to a specific Web page that welcomes them as a customer and encourages their ongoing business.

The importance of landing pages.
As you can tell from the examples above, if you are sending customers or prospects to your Web site, it pays to create a customized landing page or micro-site. If you dump them on your company’s home page, they may lose their momentum and be unsure where to go to find the information they want. It can be relatively quick and inexpensive to develop a unique landing page to capture responses to a promotion.

If you offer more information about a specific product or service, the details should be on that page. If you want respondents to sign up or make a purchase, it should be clear how to do so immediately. In addition, the landing page needs to look and sound like the medium that customers just came from. They need to know they are in the right place.

By integrating your online and offline marketing messages, you can increase the effectiveness of both methods. That means more responses and a greater return on your investment.