Exploring the ins and outs of integrated marketing
By Leanne Hoagland-Smith November 3, 2012 9:26PM
Leanne Hoagland-Smith. | Provided photo~Sun-Times Media
Updated: November 4, 2012 11:16PM
In years gone by, marketing was mostly outbound in that actions were directed from inside the organization to the outside world. Direct mail, advertising be it print, radio or TV, speaking engagements to even cold-calling were all considered to be outbound marketing.
Technology and especially with today’s interactive platforms as evidenced through social media and webinars have drastically changed the inbound marketing landscape of just incoming referrals to an expanded inbound marketing channel including website visits, returning visitors, social media updates, blogging, YouTube, etc.
Marketing has almost suddenly become overwhelming for most small business owners to mid size business owners. These SMB comprise 98.2 percent of all firms with 99 employees or less according to the U.S. Census Bureau.
The best place to maximize this changing market place is within the strategic thinking and business planning process. Having a clearly defined target market with a description of the ideal customer is absolute necessity and no longer an option. A well communicated vision along with clearly articulate positive core values completes this first step.
Small business owners who fail to begin with a strategic planning process are actively engaged in the roles of Captain Wing It. They spray their marketing efforts all over the place and then pray something will stick. These crazy busy individuals are taking potentially costly chances that may ultimately lead them to reduced profits or worse yet closed doors.
With a standard outbound marketing plan, there are goals specific to these key areas:
• Business to business networking including tradeshows
• Direct mail
• Paid advertising including sponsorships for not for profit events
• Promotional items including business cards, brochures, pens, mugs, etc.
• Professional development
A simple inbound marketing plan revolves around social media and would include goals in these basic areas:
• Other sites including micro blogs
An education based marketing approach propels an integrated marketing plan even further. This approach creates unity in the outbound actions with the content marketing generating much of the results from those inbound actions.
What keeps many small business owners from embracing inbound marketing is content generation. Research from the Content Marketing Institute, Inc. suggests not only are visitors including the pesky Google bots searching your website wanting quality content, they are seeking quantity content as well.
Unfortunately with all these changes within marketing especially for small businesses, there are some marketing firms that are promoting themselves as social media coaches, search engine optimization consultants to even experts on social media connectivity. Small business owners when talking with these marketing firms may hear statements like:
• “Forget outbound marketing”
• “Today it is all about social media”
• “Direct mail is dead”
• “Advertising in newspapers (or any other traditional media) is a waste of money”
• “All you need is a search engine optimized website”
These statements are 100 percent untrue and suggest a less than knowledgeable marketing firm.
So if you are considering hiring a marketing firm to better understand all the ins and out of marketing in the 21st century, possibly ask them these three questions to ensure you are receiving as they say the most bang for your buck:
1. How much emphasis does your solution place of integrated marketing?
2. What have been your clients’ results with the integrated marketing solutions you have implemented?
3. May I have the name of three clients and their phone numbers to discuss their results?
For the month of November, the following topics will be explored:
Nov. 12 – Content marketing
Nov. 19 - The impact of technology on integrated marketing
Nov. 26 – Measuring marketing
P.S. Shout Out: The holidays are coming and floral arrangement are great gifts. Consider Heritage Flowers in Crown Point or Lemster’s Florals and Gifts in Valparaiso.
Content Marketing Institute - http://www.marketingcharts.com/wp/topics/business-to-business/forget-quality-quantity-is-now-the-key-challenge-for-b2b-content-marketers-24245/