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What is an Integrated Marketing Plan, and Why Should I Care?

I’m not a fan of marketing jargon. I had my fill of it back in the 90s when I studied the Chartered Institute of Marketing’s Diploma course.

Back then, the internet was only just emerging, and Google and Facebook didn’t exist. Marketing courses weren’t really for the likes of me – they were aimed at the executives of big corporations like Hasbro and Coca-Cola.

How do I know that?

Because two of my fellow students were execs from Hasbro and Coca-Cola, and our lecturers were previously from NatWest Bank.

Marketing was corporate, and corporations love jargon.

The course was full of theoretical babble like the “Four Ps of Consumer Behaviour” (which became 5 Ps or 7, depending on who you asked) and “Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs”.

So, when I decided to write this article about Integrated Marketing Plans for my audience of small business owners, I worried it could become bogged down with buzzwords – rather like my marketing textbooks of 30 years ago.

Having worked closely with SMEs for the past eight years, I’ve seen how little some small business owners understand about marketing theory. That’s not to say they don’t know what they are doing – many people instinctively know how to make and sell things. But they don’t have a framework to work within, which means important things can get missed out.

And (being totally transparent), I also have a Marketing Planner for sale 🙂

So, I’m going to cover the basics of creating an integrated marketing plan in plain English.

Pay attention at the back.

What is an Integrated Marketing Plan?

Many people think of marketing as being just about sending out an advert or a promotion, but it’s not that simple anymore. Now, marketing requires an overall strategy that considers all aspects of your business’s marketing efforts. That’s where the “integrated” part of the marketing plan comes in.

This strategy ensures that your marketing efforts work seamlessly together to achieve your desired outcome. For example, if you’re trying to increase your sales, your integrated marketing plan might include a mix of advertising, social media marketing and email campaigns that are designed to work together to get the word out about your product or service.

The parts of an integrated marketing plan can vary depending on your business, but typically it includes things like advertising, PR, social media marketing, email, print marketing and more. The goal is to create a cohesive plan that uses different tactics to reach your target audience and achieve your marketing objectives.

What are the benefits of having an integrated marketing plan?

Well, to start with, it can save you time and money by streamlining your efforts. It also ensures that your messages are consistent wherever they appear, and that helps to build brand recognition and trust with your customers.

There are eight parts to an Integrated Marketing Plan Framework. The first four are planning, and the next four are execution. The reality for some small businesses is that parts of the planning stage often get overlooked, which can cause issues further down the line.

Steps to Creating an Integrated Marketing Plan

1. Set Your Specific Goals and Objectives

The first step to creating an integrated marketing plan is to define the marketing goals and objectives you are trying to achieve. These goals should be SMART (jargon, sorry), which stands for specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-bound.

So, using my Planner as an example, if I set a goal to “sell some this year”, that isn’t really specific or time-bound enough to be a SMART goal. But if I said I wanted to “sell 30 in the next three months”, that would be more acceptable.

2. Perform a SWOT Analysis

I’m going to be honest – I’ve never found SWOT analyses particularly useful. But they are a firm favourite at marketing school, so what do I know!?

Performing a SWOT analysis is meant to help you identify your business’s strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats. The SWOT analysis results can help inform your marketing decisions.

I won’t give you any more than that – there are many sites where you can find more info if you wish.

3. Identify Your Target Audience

Knowing your target audience is very important to creating effective marketing messages. You have to understand your customer’s needs, desires and preferred communication channels if you want to reach them effectively.

The likelihood is that you instinctively know your target audience, especially if you’ve been in business for a while. But if you are selling something new, you will need to do some audience research.

4. Create a Unique Selling Point (USP)

This is all about uniqueness – identify what sets your business (or product) apart from the competition and highlight that in your messaging. USPs are sometimes very hard to pin down. Especially if what you are selling isn’t unique at all, like (for example) photocopier paper.

In that instance, your unique angle might be something else – can you supply it quicker than everyone else? Or is your guarantee the longest? Is your aftersales the best? Is it better for the environment? The most reliable? Get your thinking cap on!

5. Develop a Messaging Framework

Or in plain English: work out the tone and language you will use, what your creative ideas are and what you’re offering. Ensure this messaging is true to your branding, is consistent wherever you say it and that it appeals to your target audience.

6. Choose Marketing Channels

Select the most appropriate marketing channels to help you reach your target audience while staying within your budget.

A marketing channel could be magazine advertising, social media, pay-per-click advertising, email marketing, YouTube etc. (The marketing textbooks always gave examples like TV and radio advertising and billboard promotion, but I’m going to assume those are out of your price range.)

7. Create a Plan for Each Channel

Create a detailed marketing plan for each channel you have chosen. The plan should include a timeline, budget and specific goals.

You’ll be looking at such tasks as: Who is writing the words? Does it need designing? Who will do the production work, and when? Do you need to book advertising space, and if so, when and for how much? How are we tracking the results? (All the kind of things you’d put in a marketing planner – see below.)

8. Execute the Plan

Execute each aspect of your integrated marketing plan, and very importantly, monitor the results to see any areas that may need improvement. Use this information to make informed decisions about your marketing in the future.

Integrated Marketing Plans for Small Businesses

Small businesses can benefit greatly from a well-executed integrated marketing plan. The idea of managing multiple marketing channels and budgets can seem overwhelming, which is why it’s a great idea to write your plan down.

To get started, it’s best to begin with a focused approach. Resist the temptation to spread your budget too thinly and prioritise the channels where your target audience is most active. It’s also important not to sacrifice quality for quantity.

Creating a cohesive marketing plan can save you time and money, build brand recognition and trust, and ultimately help you reach more customers. So, why not give it a try for your business?

Follow the steps outlined in this article to create a plan that works for you. With a little effort, you’ll be well on your way to achieving your marketing goals. And if you need a planner to help you stay organised and not overwhelmed, read on.

“Finally, a print marketing journal with enough space to plan meaningfully.”

Keefomatic’s Print Marketing Planning Journal lets you plan, organise and coordinate your printing and social media campaigns with ease, allowing you to plan months in advance to ensure your messages are integrated and cohesive across all platforms.

But that’s not all. The journal is also chock-full of inspiring suggestions and reminders each week to keep your promotions fresh. Say goodbye to last-minute panic and hello to a head start on your marketing.

“The suggestions each week are great to start you thinking about promotions as well as pencilling in future events, product launches, blogs or podcasts – so there is time to make sure people know about them in advance.”

The best part? The Print Marketing Planning Journal is available now for just £14.99, and it’s good for an entire year. Get your copy today and take control of your marketing with a planning journal that works for you.

Print Marketing Planning Journal
Integrated Marketing Planning
Credit: Cover photo by Melanie Deziel on Unsplash

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author avatar
Keith Barker Designer & Marketing Consultant
I'm Keith, the driving force behind Keefomatic Marketing & Design. With a career spanning over 35 years in marketing, design and advertising, I offer a comprehensive, results-driven service tailored to the needs of small business owners.