Integrated MarCom Every Time

Young people work in modern office.

Whenever I mention running an integrated marketing communications program, everybody in the room nods in agreement, as if to say, “Of course.”

Whenever an individual marketing idea or subject comes up, however, everybody seems to jump at getting the task checked off the to-do list without putting a comprehensive, multi-pronged campaign together. And there’s often a litany of excuses: “My boss wants this done yesterday,” “I just don’t have the time to put together a plan,” or “We can’t wait any longer. The next conference is just around the corner.”

The reality is, we often forgo integrated marketing communications plans because we want to check the to-do off our list. Unfortunately, when it comes to marketing, just checking it off the list is often the biggest mistake we can make. We not only render the marketing or communications effort ineffective, but we also create a habit of doing what’s expedient rather than what’s effective.

Fortunately, we can break this habit with just a little discipline and the willingness to sell a better outcome. Here are three ways to ensure your marketing efforts, whether you’re a supplier partner, third-party manager or an apartment owner/operator, are always integrated:

1. Always take a step back and push back … in the right way. Every time someone comes up with a killer marketing idea and drops it on you like it’s the next iPhone, stop and think about it for a minute. Marketing and communications don’t work like a faucet. You can’t turn them off and back on and expect the leads or leases to flow like water. They’re almost always a series of activities in different channels that produce the lead-and-lease flow.

Yet, most people who aren’t in marketing and communications believe it does work like a faucet. That’s because that’s their experience. They see a brilliant ad, article or email, and they think it worked to get them to make a purchase. What they don’t remember is the many times they saw something about that brand or product in other places that led them to that ultimate buying decision. That’s the brilliance of good marketing. It works on both a subconscious and eventually conscious level to create a decision.

That’s why we have to push back in the right way. If we stop our superiors for just a second and explain to them that we need just a couple more weeks to develop a fully integrated campaign around the big idea that will multiply its results, they’ll listen. But we often either just nod our heads in agreement or push back hard, thinking that saying no is going to get them to go away. But by pushing back and developing a more strategic way to utilize that brilliant idea, we increase the likelihood of its effectiveness and reduce conflict. Otherwise, we simply check the to-do off the list and report to our superiors that the idea failed.

2. Consider the audience and their behavior first. When was the last time you purchased something that was going to cost you $16,000 a year (basically your average national rent) after seeing a single email, advertisement or article about it? Hopefully, your answer was never, or you have bigger problems than can be managed right now.

Most reasonable people will research the purchase thoroughly, read numerous reviews, ask friends about the decision, check out competitive products or services, examine the product closely in person, search for information – you get the picture. They aren’t just going to click on the link from that single email and click purchase like it’s one-click shopping on Amazon. This is a $16,000 spend, the single most expensive thing they will probably buy this year.

They’re going to do their homework and expect you to give them more than what can be delivered in a single email, advertisement or article. So, give them more. Create an integrated marketing communications campaign and lead them down the funnel to a purchase decision. Creating a great idea, sending out a single message and seeing what happens is a waste of time and a waste of the great idea.

3. Have a strategic marketing communications plan in place all the time. You should never be without a plan that looks out at least a quarter. Without a pre-existing plan, it’s really difficult to ensure everything else that’s thrown your way is also planned out properly. After all, you’re already running your marketing communications team like it’s auto shop that changes oil without an appointment.

With an approved plan in place, you are empowered to delay the daily big idea until it fits into the strategic plan. This buys you time to develop the integrated marketing communications plan that expands on the idea before throwing it out there to see if it sticks. It also allows you to develop KPIs and implement additional tactics that will help you meet those KPIs.

This seems like a no brainer, but you’d be surprised how many companies in all industries use their marketing teams as order takers for sales or operations. You won’t be surprised to learn that this doesn’t build a strong brand or effective and efficient marketing efforts.

These tactics are often easier said than done, but if you can muster up the time and strength, they’ll pay off. If that’s not possible, hire a multifamily marketing communications firm because they have to integrate in order to produce results and survive.

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