Where Does Integrated Marketing Communications End?
Most people think of how, when and where to start an integrated marketing communications (IMC) effort. I think looking for the end of the program is a better plan. Carefully and clearly define your goals and objectives; look to what tool or tools allow the donor to most easily and effectively provide a gift; and then support that desired end with a powerful, strong and effective beginning. If you cannot solicit a gift, determine what end-of-project media allow you to maintain the dialogue and engagement you started, allowing you to ask the “give” question once again.
Look to the end to begin
I think most people run their lives by looking to the end result before they start. Think about planning a trip — you select a location, define the itinerary, set aside the time, buy the tickets, book hotels, etc. Yes, some may book the hotels prior to the flight or switch the order of some of the other items, but few book vacations based on the time and place an airline offers. Some do, but I would say this is a small percentage of the traveling public.
IMC follows a similar path
End-of-project media can also set the tone for the balance of the program. Demographics play an important part of the need and perhaps define that tool path, but in many cases the tools used to provide the path to giving are independently linked to the integrated marketing program. Sounds counter to current marketing trends? Today, many past, traditional or legacy marketing tools and strategies must be reviewed or revised, and a new path, often based on unexpected strategies, needs to be found.
If you follow the concept that IMC is the multivitamin of marketing, then that adds additional validation to my position that calls for a time-released program designed with the end result in mind, with this end result defining the correct IMC formula. When you purchase a multivitamin, you are looking to provide a solution to eliminate a condition or perhaps to increase your stamina, increase your energy or respond to some other not-so-serious diagnosis. If you needed to counter a single condition, you might seek a single vitamin to meet your need, but that may lead to you taking a dozen independent vitamins!
When you think IMC, the end or closing is as critical as the beginning, perhaps more so. IMC offers something that in my opinion no other single form of media offers. IMC offers relevance, integration, interaction, and measurement (RIIM), which to me is a very positive breeding ground (the petri dish of marketing if you like) to develop a dialogue, establish engagement, and serve as an ongoing communication tool that keeps the conversation moving forward and toward your goal.
Think of the end result, and build the program around your engagement tool.
Considering all the choices available — Advertising: Broadcast/Online/Mobile/Print/Out of Home; Direct Marketing: Direct Mail/E-mail/Events/Point-of-Purchase/Point-of-Sale/Education; Digital Marketing: SEO/SEM/Remarketing (retargeting)/Social Media/Websites/Microsites/Landing Pages; Public Relations: Media Relations/Analyst Relations/Investor Relations — you may be better offer with end-of-process focus than a start-the-race mentality. Now, not every tool listed will be used for your fundraising needs, but the tools of contact, what I call the “chain of communications,” are not declining — but expanding. If you need an example, just look to the changes in traditional and online advertising. Nearly every week, a new option to “attract” a prospect is being introduced. In your IMC effort, attracting is also important, but the end result — the conversion to a gift or the giving of a donation — needs to be strongly considered.
Ask the question — which tool or tools will be most effective in gaining your organization’s objectives? — and think the process backward, always optimizing your media selection one tool at time.
There are plenty of tools out there that work best from the end first, tools that provide the ongoing relief of non-giving symptoms via the multivitamin analogy. Use end-of-process tools that include squeeze pages, landing pages, microsites, online directories, alumni programs and other supportive engagement mechanisms, which include new and emerging technologies such as digi-scan, augmented reality, QR codes, near field communication and other tools, all of which can be repurposed. These tools, all integrated of course, help you to not only ask, but also to show how, where, when and why the funds you are asking for will be or are being used.
In summary, all people are looking for a quick and simple way to be informed. Your prospects are no different. Time cannot be wasted, effort needs to be maximized and results are driving the end game. So why not start with planning the end game?
When thinking of the end result, the marketer or fundraiser must not forget the key rules to success via an IMC effort — relevance, integration, interaction, and yes, results and measurement.
Thad Kubis is an unconventional storyteller, offering a confused marketplace a series of proven, valid, integrated marketing/communication solutions. He designs B2B or B2C experiential stories founded on Omni-Channel applications, featuring demographic/target audience relevance, integration, interaction, and performance analytics and program metrics.