Many financial planners and wealth managers frequently advocate the importance and necessity of having a plan for your financial future. But, what about an integrated marketing plan for your business? Most entrepreneurs and small business owners admit that they don’t quite have their “marketing act” together and they often make marketing harder than necessary. In fact, I know many people who even dread the mere term – marketing. If you are seeking an easier way to market your business, this article will provide insight and ideas about new ways to leverage the Internet and use integration to improve your overall marketing results. I like to put it in this context – integration is to marketing what diversification is to portfolio planning or what location is to real estate. It’s the key ingredient to a successful marketing recipe; however, it is often neglected.
If you have heard the term marketing mix, but you’re not quite sure what it means, here’s a brief definition. Your marketing mix is a combination of tools that are used to market your products and services, and is often referred to as the 4 Ps – product, place (distribution), price and promotion. The 4Ps also refer to the strategic position of a product in the marketplace.
Now, back to the importance of integration. The Internet has changed consumer behavior. Think about your own behavior when you are shopping for a car, vacation or getting educated about anything. Where do you go? You probably start by conducting a search on Google or Yahoo. The Internet has brought a new dimension and ingredient into the marketing mix – integration. By integrating traditional advertising with new online media, you can reach more people faster and more effectively. But, you must have a consistent message throughout all communication channels to maximize your results. I have provided a case study in this article to further illustrate a successful integrated marketing campaign.
Marketing should accomplish two things:
1. Attract great clients
2. Increase sales and visibility
It’s easier when you do three things:
1. Create a consistent flow of communication to your customers
2. Integrate your marketing through traditional advertising and online media
3. Take action
Marketing is simply getting the right message to the right person at the right time using the right media mix.
Few marketers truly integrate their efforts, and that’s why many programs fail. Their message doesn’t communicate and connect with their target audience and/or lacks a consistent message that flows through a variety of media. Consistency also means using your company logo and colors throughout all your marketing material. Although this may seem basic, it’s often overlooked.
Have you ever clicked on an Internet ad only to have it take you to a completely unrelated page? Unfortunately, this happens often and it’s a quick way to lose your prospect’s interest. Here’s a better way. Create an ad or promotional message with a specific URL such as, “http://www.yourcompany.com/event” and then have a page on your Web site that only focuses on your event or promotion. This can even be a “microsite,” or a mini-site about that subject. If you are using print ads, direct mail, radio or TV advertising, mention your URL, not just your homepage, in the ad. Remember, mixed messages yield mixed results, so the more specific you can be, the more your ROI will improve. The Internet and online media help make it easier than ever to engage your prospective clients faster, cheaper and more effectively than direct mail and traditional advertising. So, what do I mean by integration? Let’s look at a recent client case study that illustrates the program I used to increase my client’s sales and national visibility and helped triple their client assets in two and a half years. As you read through it, think about how you can incorporate these ideas and techniques into your own marketing program to improve your results.
Client case study: Integrated marketing campaign helped client grow assets to $2.1 billion from $750 million in two and a half years.
A bank and trust client that specializes in self-directed IRAs wanted to build their brand nationally and increase their client asset base. They had a limited advertising budget, compared to other financial institutions, and they are in a niche market – self-directed IRAs – that few people know about or understand.
Here, I will share with you a few powerful techniques that helped them accomplish their goals – integrating live educational events, online PR, search engine optimization (SEO) and the creation of digital products, (e.g., e-book, podcasts, Webinar series, CEO blog, etc.). By the way, I feel one of the best ways to increase sales is through education. When you educate your audience, you are building trust and cultivating relationships. Your prospects will gravitate toward you when they perceive real value and your existing clients will also appreciate your expertise.
I suggested we launch an industry-leading, educational one-day event series in eight cities in one year, having completed a three-city pilot program in 2006 and a national inaugural event in 2005. To help reduce marketing costs, I secured four sponsors and gave them a dedicated speaking spot as well as including them in all marketing and PR as part of our agreement. They received great visibility and tremendous networking opportunities. This was truly a win-win situation for everyone.
The challenge? How to get the word out on a limited budget, reach new markets and attract 50-100 professionals to attend each event.
I created a 15-step integrated marketing program to promote the event series:
1. Created an event name and logo and posted it on the corporate Web site with a registration link
2. Announced the upcoming events on monthly Webinars
3. Press releases were sent out nationally and regionally, via the Internet and by fax to editors of business publications
4. Created an e-mail marketing campaign to in-house lists, which consisted of clients and professionals
5. E-mail marketing invitation to prior attendees of trade shows
6. Placed an ad in the Wall Street Journal for the Seattle event, which required online registration
7. E-mail marketing campaigns to purchased lists of select financial professionals, (double opt-in) and targeted by geographical regions
8. The business development officers were asked to promote the series on all sales calls and at conferences
9. A podcast was made from the press release and posted on the Web site and included in e-mail campaigns
10. A real simple syndication (RSS) feed was sent out to promote the event series
11. Client’s blog was updated to mention the event series
12. Posted the event on complementary industry Web sites to alert subscribers and visitors about the upcoming event
13. Search engine marketing (SEM) – Created a Google AdWords campaign to market the events
14. Requested sponsors that sponsors post the event on their Web site and send e-mails out to their respective lists
15. Secured free radio interviews for the CEO and reminded him to plug the events on the radio
Results of successful integrated marketing campaign
* Client assets tripled from $750 million to $2.1 billion in two and a half years
* The event registration page is now the fourth top entry page to the client’s Web site
* Attendee registration averages 82 per event – the goal was 50-100
* Seventeen stories have been published in the media featuring my client and their success stories
* Average score is 4.7 out of 5.0 on attendee evaluations
* E-mail marketing produced an average 34 percent open rate for the invitation, 10 percent click-through and 5 percent to 9 percent conversion
* Doubled in-house e-mail marketing list in one year
* All sponsors renewed their contracts after the pilot series
Three keys to launching your own integrated program
1. Consistency – Develop a consistent look and message so your brand is easily recognized and remembered
2. Integrate through all media – Combine traditional advertising with new media such as the Internet, blogs, online PR, e-mail, SEO, Web site content and online video advertising
3. Avoid ad isolation and fragmentation – Don’t just run an ad once
How to create and integrate your own digital products
Turn your information into educational products and integrate them into your marketing mix. This really ties your marketing program together.
Educating your prospects and clients will help you increase sales faster than traditional sales tactics, especially in the overcrowded and hyper-competitive financial services market.
Here is a list of the best ways to do this:
* Write an article, tips booklet or white paper discussing the top 10 FAQs in your business or the top 10 common complaints and challenges.
* Offer your article, white paper or digital download as an added-value to an industry trade publication and/or online newsletter. Suggest to an event promoter to use it to help fill seats at an upcoming event and tie it in with an early bird offer as an added incentive. Sometimes you have to be problem solver in advance.
* Create an educational series to promote your services. The key word here is “series” because it forces you to keep marketing. It’s easier to create a series and simply change the dates and pertinent information to promote your next event or class than just do a one-time event. Hire a sound engineer to professionally record your sessions and make CDs and MP3s to sell on your Web site, or offer to induce a call to action, like signing up for your online newsletter.
According to the July 2007 McKinsey Global Survey on how companies are marketing online, “by 2010 the Web will play a role in the first two stages of the consumer decision-making process – product awareness and information gathering – for a sizable majority of all consumers.” I’ve given you a lot to think about and hopefully you will employ the secret sauce of integration into your marketing mix.
Robyn Levin has spent the past 20 years in Marketing, Business Development, and PR. Levin is founder and president of R. Levin Marketing Group, a consulting firm that advises growing professional services companies on how to accelerate growth using the Internet, digital marketing strategies, innovative ideas & her proprietary “Cocktail Napkin PlanTM.”