Integrated Marketing Communication for SMEs
Integrated marketing has been discussed within the world of marketing for several years now, but it still remains one of the hardest strategies to implement. This is because it is such a vast concept.
The integrated approach includes lead generation, branding, communications, media, sales and cross selling, as well as acquisition and retention. Trying to implement this approach in one big campaign may be advantageous for big brands, but for SMEs it’s best to look at one concept at a time. This article therefore examines how integrated marketing communications can be beneficial by looking at combining online with offline communications.
First, I’d like to clarify what is available regarding online tools. The world of online marketing is growing, and so while I’m sure many SMEs are using their website and a social media account to interact with their target audience, there is still more to online.
For starters, one social media account for a brand isn’t enough. Your audience is divided between the social media giants, such as Twitter, Facebook, Reddit, and Pinterest. Discover which of these tools receive the most interaction from your audience, and focus your communication on these. For example, interior design and home decorating inspiration is often found on Pinterest, so if you have a furniture store, it’s a good idea to share images of your products and designs on Pinterest to spread brand awareness. Using social media for communications is a great way for SMEs to save money, and get to know who their target audience really are and what future campaigns they will be interested in.
Don’t forget about the power of using SEO (Search Engine Optimisation) and PPC (Pay Per Click) campaigns for spreading brand awareness and promoting special offers.
Offline tools are better known than the online ones, as they’ve been around a little longer, but even with the rise of online, you can still benefit from these tools: TV (maybe a bit pricey for some SMEs), print (don’t forget flyers, newspaper ads, and billboards), Sales Promotion (your store can be optimised in line with your communication), and radio (local will work better).
The hard part is, of course, integrating all these tools. Consider upcoming campaigns such as a sales promotion. You’ll have in-store promotion to tell customers about the promotion (offline), you should also mention it on your website (online), tweet about it (online), spread the word through flyers or adverts in local papers (offline), and you can also use SEO and PPC to raise ROI (online). Once an integrated approach has been focused and narrowed down to how and what, it is neither as daunting, nor as costly as originally thought.
This is, of course, only the beginning. If you want to expand this sales promotion from your media communication, consider a retention strategy in which customers are rewarded for recommending a friend to the sale.
Using online and offline communications together, is just the tip of the integrated marketing iceberg, but it’s a good place to start. When planning future strategies, be sure to keep the integrated approach in mind.