Integrated marketing communication is more critical now than ever, as there are so many ways for brands to communicate with consumers. From advertising, digital marketing, social media, and everything in between, brands must be prepared to deliver consistent customer experiences. All messages need to share common links and a touch of personalization to build the trust necessary to communicate with today’s discerning consumer.
Integrated marketing communications help to build trust between consumers and brands as they lay a foundation of reliability and consistency. Consumers choose brands out of loyalty because they know what to expect. Cohesive communications build on that expectation and create brand affinity through positive shopping experiences. The best way to establish integrated marketing communications is to follow a specific set of steps, as consistency in the process breeds consistency in results.
Step #1: Define and Segment the Audience
In creating consistent communications, brands must be able to think like their consumers. This makes defining the audience the most critical step in this process. Additionally, brands must be able to divide an audience into smaller segments to ensure that messages can be personalized based on varying consumer needs. A cosmetics company, for example, would define their audience as “individuals who use cosmetics.” This audience is very broad, and therefore requires asking additional questions regarding the use of the product. Some considerations which will help to further segment the audience include:
- Why does the consumer use makeup? The answer may seem obvious to some, in that consumers use makeup to look or feel more attractive. However, while some consumers may solely wear makeup for this reason, others may use makeup as a form of art, as a part of their jobs, or even as a way to conceal medical issues, like rosacea or alopecia.
- How often does the consumer use makeup? Some cosmetics users never leave the house without first applying makeup, while others only wear it on occasion. Defining which users are consistent—versus those who only use makeup for special occasions or just sporadically—helps to determine how easy, or how challenging, it will be to get those consumers to switch brands. For example, a consumer who has worn the same shade of lipstick for the past 15 years would be a much more difficult prospect for a challenger brand to turn than one who only occasionally wears the shade, and wants to try something new.
- How does the consumer choose their makeup? Consumers may select a specific brand of makeup based on a social media recommendation, or through a suggestion from a friend. They may impulsively decide to buy a product at the drugstore or seek out guidance at a high-end department store. The way that consumers choose cosmetic products is an integral part of how brands should approach them in order to ultimately make a sale.
With this information, brands can better segment their audience to ensure their marketing is designed to attract customers. This helps the brand create an inclusive, overarching message which will be the consistent center of their campaign.
Step #2: Select an Overarching Message
Brands must find their competitive advantage when crafting a message which will pull in their target audience. CoverGirl is an excellent example of this, as in recent years the brand has undergone significant changes to modernize its message and reach a new pool of consumers.
The brand’s target audience is young Millennials, who frequently view makeup as a form of self-expression. As a result, the communications from CoverGirl tend to focus on how unique their customers are, and the looks that they can create with CoverGirl products. The brand sponsors a #IAmWhatIMakeUp campaign, and further carries that message into its mailing lists, how-to videos, and social media presence. The consistent message is designed to resonate with younger consumers who want to express themselves and experiment with makeup .
While this message is something the brand carries across various platforms, it’s also one which can be adapted to reach different segments of the overall consumer pool. It’s this adaptability which makes the message ideal for integrated marketing communications.
Step #3: Adjust the Message for Different Audiences and Platforms
One important aspect of integrated marketing communication is knowing that there will be outliers in the audience to whom the message may not work. The nature of a campaign directed towards millenials may vary from that of a more mature audience. However, the underlying message can remain consistent. Brands must adapt their campaigns without changing the overall tone. CoverGirl also utilizes this strategy.
While the brand primarily focuses on young consumers, it also connects with Baby Boomers by working with Maye Musk—mother of Elon Musk—as one of their spokespeople. Maye is not a separate part of the #IAmWhatIMakeUp campaign, but instead a smaller segment of the overall lively feel of the company. The brand focuses on her youthfulness and adventurous nature, making her part of the branded message while still addressing those who fall outside the target demographic.
Using Integrated Marketing Communication With Third Parties
Brands sometimes run into issues with integrated marketing communications when partnering with third parties. Often, it can be difficult to maintain a consistent message when using a separate platform. Some third parties can be inflexible, and the brand may not be able to control their message entirely. A strong third-party platform, like Shopkick, will allow a brand to offer more to consumers without the need to change their message, and without jeopardizing brand consistency.
Brands should work with third parties only when they’ve ascertained that they will have enough control over their message to make it consistent. It’s important to seek out companies who offer options like video marketing, in-store rewards, and personalized messages to ensure that marketing communications are consistent and on brand.
Consistency in integrated marketing communication starts with knowing the audience.
Consistency in integrated marketing communication starts with knowing the audience. While the message may need adjustment for different audience segments, brands should strive to maintain a consistent tone, style, and presence. This strategy builds trust between consumers and brands, which leads to brand affinity.
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