Why Create an Integrated Marketing Plan?

A couple posts ago I talked about creating an integrated marketing plan. I’m sure some of you thought it seemed like too much bother. It is a lot of work, but can save you time and money in the long run. Especially with current concerns over the economy, smart marketing is the only way to go. In a B-to-B Marketing Trends Report by the ISBM (Institute for the Study of Business Markets), the number one reported need of marketers was to develop approaches and methods to better understand what customers really need, beyond what they can say or articulate. They wanted opportunities to create real value. This is where an integrated marketing plan can help.

For example, according to a recent report released by IDC, tech marketing spending is expected to increase this year, although at a slower rate than last year. What this means is that tech marketers need to be especially vigilant deciding where to spend their budget. In terms of where marketing program dollars will be spent this year, the report states that events are expected to get the largest share of the pie (19.1%), followed by advertising (17.9%), marketing support and sales tools (14.6%), direct marketing (13.3%), online and interactive marketing (9.9%), public relations (6.3%), collateral (6.3%), research (5.1%), web (3.6%), analyst relations (2.2%) and other (1.7%).

Companies significantly increasing their budgets are either smaller, high-growth companies, or companies that have not been spending much and need to do some catch up. The Event Marketing Institute reflects these numbers in another survey. Their latest report states that face-to-face marketing is on the rise and event marketing continues to be fueled by an uncertain global economy and a drive for ROI.

Some companies are concerned about trade show and conferences commanding the biggest share of the budget and are looking to do more user meetings, strategic advisory meetings, and executive roundtables that are more intimate events. Of course these meetings can be more work than showing up at a trade show with a booth, as the entire event is the responsibility of one company. However, once done, it’s a good way to control both the audience and the message they take home — something that’s harder to do at a larger trade show or conference.

An integrated marketing plan combines strategic goal setting and alignment with planning, forecasting and modeling. This means companies mustn’t leave marketing off to one side, but align it to the core business model. Marketing organizations need to be efficient, with shared services including advertising, analyst relations, public relations and market intelligence. Data needs to be gathered from all aspects of the enterprise (including financial, the shop floor, customer service, sales/marketing), and analyzing how these results stack up to business objectives (more sales, better customer retention).

I urge you to spend some time and take a thoughtful and hard look at how you manage your marketing. We’re here to help.

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