12. February, 2016|Blog, Featured Blog Post|Comments Off on Part 2: Building a Strategic Integrated Marketing Program


In part 1 of this series, we discussed the first five steps to building an effective strategic integrated marketing program: craft your vision, build your marketing team, discover your strengths, create your brand promise and set strategic goals.

Here are the next five steps to helping an organization accomplish true strategic integration – and market itself effectively.

6) Invest in Distinctives. First, review to see if your organization has some key programs, services or products that are good, but not great. Maybe the facility needs upgrading, the technology is dated or the staff needs some professional development to be top-notch at what they do. If these distinctives could potentially set you apart from your competitors and help you win – students, clients, customers, donors – then prioritize a few and invest to make them exceptional. Remember, a distinctive about your organization may be the unique way you put several strengths together. Second, review the marketplace to see what you’re missing that would make you stand out (or keep you from falling behind). This could be a physical improvement, a customer-service “wow” opportunity or some niche program that aligns with your brand promise. Think creatively here because you’re not just competing with organizations just like you; you’re competing with the entire universe of entities that regularly impress your potential clients, customers or students – including brand-experience champions like Amazon, Google, Disney and Southwest Airlines.

7) Determine Your Targets. Once you polish your distinctives and are ready to tell the world, focus your efforts on clarifying your target markets. Unless you have an unlimited budget, you’ll want to define your targets narrowly and by their likelihood of helping you achieve your desired results. Within one organization, you might have several different target audiences, depending on what you’re trying to achieve. Here are some questions your team can use to determine appropriate target audiences:

  • Who needs or desires our unique program, service or product?
  • Who can afford our unique program, service or product?
  • Where are these people located?
  • Are there people I’m reaching now who are similar to this target group – and can I leverage those relationships to reach more of them?
  • Do I already have a way to reach this target group directly (email, phone, subscription list, etc.) or do I need to reach them indirectly (through media channels they are likely to view)?
  • Does this audience already connect with us in some other way that can be transferred for this purpose?
  • Do I have a database of people (or does one exist elsewhere in my organization) that could be sifted for excellent prospects?
  • What does our data tell us about our most successful customer relationships – and can we profile our best potential customers based on that understanding?

8) Develop Key Messages. Words have power, and getting everyone in your organization using the same words for your strengths, your promise, etc., will help you begin to brand from the inside out. Craft short, creative descriptions of your distinctives. Don’t include too many because when you brag on everything, people remember nothing. Instead, focus on 3-5 distinctives, write them in crisp, clean language with powerful verbs, then use them again and again and again – in speeches, ads, on your homepage, in videos, in staff meetings, on the intranet, etc. Share them with your board, and ask them to begin to talk about you using your brand promise and key messages. Train your staff on the messages through large group meetings and through weekly, monthly or quarterly team meetings. Don’t worry that some areas where you shine are not highlighted; a rising tide lifts all ships – and if you become well known for a few great things, your overall reputation (and results) will rise.

 9) Create Targeted Campaigns. Using your short list of critical target audiences, think carefully about how you can best reach each one. Can you write a guest column for or advertise in a specialty publication or email newsletter that reaches that audience? Is there a conference where you could speak or serve as a visible sponsor? Could you target that audience on Facebook to promote a blog or web feature they might be interested in? Use all your free cross-promotion opportunities – your own website, business Facebook page, LinkedIn page (personal and/or business), LinkedIn group postings, direct emails, announcements at meetings you attend, etc. Create a written plan that includes the various methods you’ll use to communicate with the audience, and build a calendar outlining the timing and types of communication. Track results immediately and over a few weeks, and keep a record of which communication methods worked best.

10) Measure and Adjust. Spend time figuring out the best methods of tracking results for each type of communication channel you use. Many have built-in tracking – i.e., Facebook Insights, Twitter Analytics, Google Analytics, Hootsuite, Constant Contact – and these can be supplemented with Google alerts you set for key words, media clipping services, personal tracking of call responses and email replies, referrals received – and the ultimate result – new business gained, new students enrolled, new clients contracted, new donors and gifts. Don’t get so caught up in counting new Twitter impressions or new Facebook likes that you fail to notice that none of the efforts actually produced results leading to success in your business goals. The three R’s are a short way to remember what to do on this step: results (track them!), rethink (adjust your strategy as needed) and repeat (people have to see your messages many times before they pay attention).

Building, implementing and tracking results of an effective strategic integrated marketing program can produce tremendous results and dramatically increase your visibility over time. The process can be daunting, and the secret to success is this: Start with step 1. And start today.

Michelle Morris, Ed.D., GideonStone CEO & Managing Partner

To talk to our team about assisting with your strategic integrated marketing program, email mm@gideonstone.com or call 713-570-6618.


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