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October 2010

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The Art of Melding Traditional and New Media

By Scott Esmond

There are a lot of new media channels gaining attention right now such as mobile, blogs, social media, location-based social networks and others. Recently, Amazon announced they sold more than $1 billion worth of products through mobile phones and other devices, so it’s easy to understand why there’s so much excitement around it.

Companies are continuing to get motivated about the endless possibilities that such media provide and the potential it has to benefit a business at the click of a mouse. So with all the hype, does that mean the days of postcards, flyers and newspaper inserts are gonzo? Absolutely not! Yes, there’s certainly a lot more action occurring on the Internet, but the reality is that traditional and new media can co-habitate well. Organizations will reap the benefits in significant ways by taking advantages of multiple vehicles. Combining the two actually gives a whole new dimension to integrated marketing.

Merging traditional and new media is very much possible if marketers take the time to understand all the moving parts and how they work together to achieve an overarching goal. While an integrated campaign is a consistent message disseminated through different channels, the way in which it is conveyed must be relevant to the medium. This is where many companies fall short; they simply repackage a magazine ad and post it online with no regards to the dynamic environment that social media sites, e-mail newsletter or mobile text messages can provide. There’s a lifecycle to the messaging involving both offline and online channels. So before the next campaign starts, here are seven tips for companies to keep in mind when devising an integrated marketing plan.

1) Understand your audience
While this might seem like a no-brainer, start by making sure you know some level of detail and have the answers to these types of questions:
  • Who is your ideal customer?
  • Where do they hang out?
  • Are they primarily on social media or smartphones?
  • How do they prefer to get information?
It’s very difficult to communicate a message successfully through a channel if those audience members aren’t present. Some organizations are at a clear advantage because they aim to attract a wide range of customers. This situation presents more opportunities for an integrated approach.

1) Recognize the challenges and goals to create a message
Before a plan can be put in place and executed, the company needs to map out the primary goals for the campaign. These goals will drive the message. In addition, examine some possible hurdles that might come about along the way. What are you looking to achieve? What needs to be solved? What are the best channels to do so?

For example, Target, a big box discount store that touts itself, in part, as the trendy alternative to high-priced fashion outlets, opened its first location in Manhattan in July 2010. The company was challenged with determining how the store could overcome other large retailers in the area and get traffic through the doors. Target responded by devising a strategic plan to cover buses, cars and buildings with ads and banners. In addition to incorporating PR and securing coverage on the front page of a newspaper, the company also focused on social media to promote the grand opening. Lastly, Target knew they needed to break through the large barrier of becoming part of the fashion scene, and brought New York City designers into the store to raise awareness. The message? Again, trendy alternative to high-priced fashion outlets. The same message, delivered differently to exploit each medium.

In order to achieve the goals of a new marketing initiative, organizations need to have knowledge of what they must overcome to make it happen. That means understanding what message to send, defining the story for each channel and determining the approach needed.

2) Be consistent
With most integrated campaigns, it’s not uncommon for the messaging to be the same across all fronts. In fact, it’s as crucial as maintaining a consistent brand. A company’s social media strategy, therefore, should emphasize the same key points as its email marketing or direct mail campaigns. Nothing should be considered a standalone event. Instead, each touch point should support and inspire deeper engagement with the brand and message.

Going back to the Target example, the company’s multi-level promotion strategy was as varied and dynamic as its customer base, and for good reason. Simply posting a PDF version of a newspaper ad on its Facebook page wasn’t going to cut it; customers want something more relevant and personal on the social media site. However, each initiative stayed true to the organization’s key messaging and so as to reemphasize Target’s value proposition and benefits to its audience.

3) Be bold
No organization should ever launch a campaign, without wanting it to be memorable. Do something different that will make audience members say “WOW” or want to learn more. While it’s important to maintain consistency in messaging, making a statement in a bold and powerful way provides an opportunity for companies to engage with customers and stand out! The best campaigns thread a single message across the various channels that not just reach, but cultivate the target audience.

4) Determine how to integrate both
Once goals are assigned and target demographics are pinpointed, it’s time to brainstorm ways to integrate content that complements other messaging currently in place. For example, a company may choose to create TV commercials and then post them on social media sites or YouTube in an effort to connect with those fans online who can comment on specific parts as well as embed the video on their own Facebook page or other site. Marketers should look at what others have done to integrate campaigns and determine what works best for their business. It’s not a question of picking medium over the other, but rather, finding a way to use the right mix to reach the target to achieve the overall goal.

5) Consider costs
With marketing budgets dwindling, it’s important to not only create a campaign that’s in the best interest for the company and fulfills the goals of connecting with audience members, but it shouldn’t come at the cost of breaking the bank. Take a look at the budget available and select options that work best for the organization. While traditional media was previously viewed as expensive, newspapers and magazines are more likely to be more flexible with the company’s budget if the idea is put on the table. You can be sure traditional media have online options but be scrutinous and stay in line with goals. In addition, new media options such as blogs and social media can be extremely cost effective while also possessing the ability to reach a large audience.

6) Plan for what’s next
When companies launch an integrated campaign, there’s usually a lot of excitement surrounding the operation. However, the work doesn’t stop there and marketers should focus on what happens next and how to keep the momentum going. Determine a strategy to build upon what’s already in place. For example, Target did a phenomenal job promoting the Manhattan store grand opening with ads, PR and by connecting with customers on their social media sites. Less than a month after the big entrance, the company planned a surprise event that took place outside a well-known hotel in New York for a night of fashion, light and sound. The event attracted New Yorkers but Target also incorporated social media by streaming the event live on their Facebook page. This allowed for multiple audience members to tune into the show without having to be physically present.

The ever present digitalization of media has certainly helped companies communicate with their target audience. A marketing approach that was previously thought of as one-to-many now has the ability to reach many-to-many. Both traditional media and new media have been used by various prominent organizations and have proven to complement each other quite well. Neither has to be eliminated and can work in unison as long as they exemplify the spirit of the company and remain true to the brand.

Most importantly, marketers should ensure that they are not conveying something that their business’ brand is not. An integrated campaign’s main benefit is in providing a real opportunity for companies to convey the same value proposition, but in different ways. a puzzle, each message acts as an individual piece of the whole and when put together, the pieces create the overall picture. But everyone must work together to ensure those pieces fit together properly and resonate with your audience. Marketers now have the luxury of having multiple tools to fulfill such goals and whether it’s launching a campaign that incorporates social media, mobile or email, it’s far more than what was ever offered before. While there’s undoubtedly more of a shift towards the Internet among younger generations, integrated campaigns that incorporate multiple channels has worked extremely well for other brands like Target and can be a success.


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