When content isn’t enough: An integrated marketing approach
I gotta tell ya, I’m excited! One of my favorite events of the year is coming soon: The opening day of the Minnesota fishing season! After a winter of icy lakes and indoor retreats, the fishing opener turns my mind to the great outdoors, a lunker on my line – and integrated marketing.
Allow me to explain.
A tackle box full of dreams
Although luck is always a part of fishing, most serious anglers don’t rely on luck alone, or even one technique alone. Instead, they learn and hone a multi-faceted set of skills and tools that increase their chances of catching their limit, landing a trophy or experiencing the rush of a sporty fight.
Bait, presentation, location, water temperature, weather and many other factors all affect fishing success. So wise fishermen and fisherwomen hit the water with a tackle box full of options, ready for anything.
The unwise ones with a single hook, line and sinker often go home empty-handed – and perhaps stop at the fish market on the way.
Fishing for customers
Content marketing is like that, too. If you just depend on great content alone you’re likely to end the day without netting a customer. Even if you use the rich content marketing discipline taught here on CMS, you might not attract many visitors to your hook for a while.
This is especially hard when you’re in startup mode. You crave customers but don’t have enough brand awareness, credibility or even content volume to pull people in. And unless you’re in a really unique niche, you’re probably competing against some well-established, savvy businesses that are angling for the same audience.
Of course content marketing isn’t a one-night stand – it takes time to build momentum and grow your audience. But what about getting results today?
Enter integrated marketing.
Integrated marketing: velocity and volume
An integrated marketing strategy combines multiple communications tactics in a unified campaign. This approach can be used to broaden your reach, increase attractiveness to different types of people and amplify your message on different channels.
Combine it with content marketing, and your catch can be faster and bigger.
With integrated marketing, the message stays consistent while the media and methods multiply.
This means that more people can see your message. That’s akin to covering more water while fishing. It also means that your company’s brand image is consistent. People who view your message in one format (such as an ad) see the same message in another format (such as your website).
Integrated marketing delivers a combination of reach and repetition, speeding response and increasing your credibility. That can be invaluable to early stage companies.
Integrated marketing tactics: Discoverable or disruptive?
So, what techniques can you add to your content tackle box to mount a more integrated marketing effort?
The answer: anything and everything from traditional to digital. Inbound to outbound. Earned or paid. In other words, any tactic that adds to your overall reach and repetition can be integrated with content marketing to create a more powerful campaign.
At the risk of introducing yet more fuzzy integrated marketing terms like those above, I’d like to suggest you consider tactics that are either “discoverable” or “disruptive.”
Discoverable marketing depends on people finding your message on their own. Discoverable tactics include content marketing itself, public relations (PR), search engine optimization (SEO), social marketing and even trade shows.
Disruptive marketing interrupts people who are doing something else. Disruptive tactics include advertising, direct mail, telemarketing and some types of email.
One can argue the merits and pitfalls of both discoverable and disruptive marketing. But when done well, both approaches can catch the attention you need to launch and grow your business. So doing both gives you an advantage.
Let’s take a closer look at both sets of tactics.
Discoverable integrated marketing tactics
I hope you’re reading this because you think content marketing is a good way to promote your new business. (I certainly do!) If so, that means that the positioning, personas, message maps and content you develop as part of your content strategy can act as the core focus of your overall integrated marketing efforts.
PR can complement your main content efforts by gaining coverage for your business in both online and offline media. Use one or more of the free or low-cost PR services to place announcements and press releases in relevant publications. Supply the press with visual content and links that support your message, This integrated marketing tactic will pay big dividends in exposure and traffic.
Search engine optimization should be a part of every piece of content you create, from web pages to blog posts to images. That includes planning and writing around focus keywords, which are the central terms you want Google and other search engines to index. A couple of good tools to help you do this are Google’s own Keyword Planner and the WordPress plugin Yoast SEO (both free). I’ll have more information on these in a future post.
As with SEO, social media should be a standard part of your content promotion tactics. Highlight your posts, e-books, videos and other content within social channels that align with your target audience as a low-cost way to multiply your message and increase traffic to your website. In addition, look for social conversations and topics posted by others that you can comment on and share, using your message map as a guide to emphasize your point of view.
Some people might put trade shows in the disruptive category, since you’re intentionally going out to meet and influence people at an event. But when you think about your fixed position on the show floor, and the hordes of people who want to attend flowing past your booth, it’s easy to see trade shows as a discoverable integrated marketing tactic. Regardless of category, trade shows can be an effective (though costly) way to reinforce, promote and deliver your content in a powerful face-to-face manner.
Disruptive integrated marketing tactics
Online and offline ads can gain quicker exposure for your message to a much wider audience than the slow propagation of organic content. If you want to grow your prospect list rapidly, consider paid advertising on social channels, content hubs and other high-traffic media. You can promote an existing social post, advertise downloadable content, increase the visibility of your website or any number of additional goals.
If you sell a higher-ticket product or service, it might pay to use telemarketing to contact likely prospects. Although you wouldn’t likely use this tactic simply to drive web traffic or build an audience, telemarketing can be a cost-effective way to generate highly qualified sales leads. The phone call script should be based on the messages and personas you develop in your content marketing strategy. Once an initial contact is made your website, blog and other content become supportive materials that help nurture and reassure the prospect about your value proposition and solutions. Integrated marketing at its finest!
Direct mail, email
I’ve lumped these two integrated marketing tactics together because they both involve the purchase of mailing lists. When researched and acquired carefully, purchased lists can augment permission-based lists in your content promotion strategy.
Get out there and integrate!
The SEO focus keyword for this article is “integrated marketing,” and the most important word in this phrase is “integrated:” one message, multiple presentations.
Content marketing and every other tactic in this article will sometimes work individually, but it’s the integration of techniques that give you better results – kind of like fishing.
Once you identify the people you’re after as you launch your business, it pays to use every lure in the tackle box to bring them in.
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