Myth Busting: Integrated Marketing Plans vs. One-Off Activities
One of the ways companies mistakenly think they are saving money is to allocate marketing budget to one or two activities with the idea that if sales increase they will up their marketing budget. This is false economy for two reasons. First, it often results in money spent on activities that never reach their full potential. Second, it often results in money spent inefficiently.
For the first example, let’s look at a trade show. I’ve lost count of the number of companies that tell me trade shows don’t work. The truth is that some shows don’t work for some companies. Years ago, McGraw-Hill ran an ad that had a mean-looking decision maker sitting in a chair saying: I don’t know you. I don’t know your company. I don’t know your product. Why should I talk to you? Trade shows are networking activity. If you do one or two shows a year and just show up with a pop-up booth and no other prep, a trade show is unlikely to achieve your lead generation goals. Worse, if you a pick a show because someone called and had a last minute corner booth, you may be at the wrong show.
In the second example, let’s look at marketing materials. When marketing materials are done as one-off projects all of the creative activities typically must be repeated for each project. That means a photographer may be brought in for several project-specific shoots instead of one slightly longer shoot designed to provide needed imagery for the next 12 months. Graphic design may not reflect a common theme (particularly if different firms are handling different projects). And, pricing discounts achieved by coordinating all printed collateral at one time may be missed.
An integrated marketing plan is a roadmap that ties everything together. Core messaging strategy is evaluated and the best mix of no/low cost activities is paired with higher cost activities to ensure an effective promotional strategy that aligns with budget. Activities are done on a schedule which helps ensure that periods of high sales activity don’t automatically mean lack of marketing activity. And because a plan normally looks at a 12-18 month schedule, outside service utilization can be planned more efficiently. However, the best part of this marketing approach is that it helps ensure that full value is achieved from higher cost activities.
Let’s get back to the question of why trade shows don’t work. The main reason is because even when the right show is chosen attendees are often focused on the companies who did the best job of telling them who they are and why it is worth an attendee’s time to learn more before the show. This is where an integrated marketing plan really shines. A person needs to see a message 3-7 times before he/she remembers seeing it. One pre-show mailing may not be enough. An integrated marketing plan that times social media outreach, industry articles, pre-show mailings, conference presentations and/or advertising to align with key shows delivers the message consistency needed to attract qualified attendees. And, most of that promotion effort is low or no cost. It also provides for mindshare maintenance of prospects who come in as leads, but aren’t in a ready-to-buy mode yet. These prospects often get thrown away when marketing is done in an less organized fashion.
This year, in particular, is an important year to look at utilizing an integrated marketing plan because there is uncertainty in U.S. policies toward manufacturing and a lot of decision teams are looking at new options. Electronics industry trade shows traditionally have greater attendance when there is uncertainty in the market. Having consistent and timely messaging being distributed on regular basis is the best way to get more value for the marketing dollars spent in this year’s trade show activity.
Not sure how to implement a good integrated marketing plan? Powell-Mucha Consulting, Inc. can help. Visit us at www.powell-muchaconsulting.com.