In the simplest terms, an integrated marketing plan just means ensuring a consistent tone and message across all marketing channels. This includes any content for campaign, from billboards to social media outreach. In the context of Chattanooga, it also means highlighting what sets our city apart and how your business fits into its unique culture.

Of course, integrated marketing isn’t really that simple. It is, however, vital. Here, we’ll quickly explain why and what it might look like for your business.

Integrating Across all Departments

For larger businesses, an integrated approach means soliciting input from each department. These departments make up the business as a whole, and each one offers a unique perspective in the business, its operations, and its customers. They can also inform marketers of their customers’ changing needs and expectations.

If the marketing team functions independently from other departments, they become stuck in a silo. They might believe their plans are solid, but sales people and customer service reps might tell a different story. It’s important to encourage and support effective communications between departments. Sometimes, it helps to designate an employee or manager to oversee this task.

If you have a smaller business, this approach is still an important one. For example, if you own a local restaurant, listen to your front of house and back of house employees for unique input. Even if you, say, own a small retail shop with your spouse, it’s still important to glean insights from customer feedback, revenue, and other business units. You can more effectively support customers and reach out to new ones by considering how each unit of your business contributes to its overall success.

Optimizing Integrated Marketing for Exposure: SEO

Here’s where the idea of integrated marketing gets multifaceted. Once you’ve designed content that integrates your brand’s voice and message, it’s time to integrate that into your existing processes. One of the highest priorities is search engine optimization. SEO in itself requires an integrated approach.

It’s going to consider content from your website, online listings, backlinks, and yes, even social media (among many other sources). So, once you’ve integrated your branding, tone, and messaging across all other channels, it’s important to ensure that they’re optimized for search engine rankings.

This typically means optimizing you content for users. First, find out what they’re searching for. There are many tools that offer insights into the specific phrases (or keywords) that potential customers are already searching for.

These tools offer insights like how many people are searching for that keyword phrase and how difficult it will be to rank for it. Find the keywords that can best integrate with your existing marketing efforts and that are most relevant.

Of course, search engines also look for consistency, just like your customers. This is one of the most important reasons to define and integrate your branding elements beforehand. Doing so accomplishes a couple of goals simultaneously: improving rankings and providing useful content to potential customers. Both can help instill a sense of trust in visitors, it really accomplishes a few goals.

Integrated Social Media Marketing

As we’ve seen, SEO is one of the most important integrated marketing channels in the digital world. The other (aside from your website) is social media.

Social media offers the unique opportunity to not only build an audience, but stay connected with that audience. A business’s social media presence keeps them top of mind even if their followers aren’t currently looking to buy. Providing useful and fun information keeps them engaged so that when they (or their friends) are ready to buy, you’re top of mind.

Even better, social media streamlines marketing integration. You can easily share pictures, photos, podcasts, stories, and more across several platforms. Many social platforms also allow businesses to incorporate their customer’s content into their marketing.

For example, if a customer posts a great video of them using your product, you can ask them to share it to your account. Consistency is key to maintaining your audience’s attention, but as we’ve discussed, it’s also easier to achieve on social media.

Social media marketing and integration are especially valuable for Chattanooga businesses. Ours is a city that people love to visit, and the unique scenery really helps inspire social shares. People love snapping pictures and recording videos with out mountains, waterways, and trail systems.

They also love the vibrant social scene found downtown and throughout the city. Try integrating these elements into your marketing plan. It’ll take a little more creativity for some brands than others, but we an all do it.

Integrating with Meta Information

Webpages have small features on the back end called metadata. You can see this metadata when searching in Google: The title that appears with each result, and the brief description under it, are the metadata.

This information shows up in more than just search results. Most social platforms will pull this information when copying a webpage’s link and display it as a preview. Most email programs do something similar. Additionally, they will also display a “featured image” from the page.

Setting up the metadata properly ensures that website content can be integrated with a variety of other marketing messages. By simply filling it in properly once, each webpage is able to better connect with audiences anytime they’re shared online or included in search results. Unfortunately, it does take a little technical knowledge to work with metadata.

Challenges to Integrated Marketing

  • Easily Put Off: Developing an integrated marketing plan takes time and resources. It also requires a change in how things are done. As we said earlier, most business owners have a habit of putting it off until it never happens.
  • Friction between departments (or employees): If you have a larger business with multiple departments, some may not collaborate as well as others. It’s important to start with those that are both most willing to help and have the most to offer. Start with your sales and customer service teams. For smaller businesses, assure employees that they can offer honest customer feedback and insights without repercussions.
  • It takes time: Developing an integrated plan takes time. You probably won’t see the results overnight. Unfortunately, technology has lowered our attention spans and conditioned us to expect immediate results. Integrated marketing takes a little more patience. Set short-term benchmarks to help overcome this with small gains that can be measured more quickly.
  • Adjustments: The initial plan probably won’t be perfect. In fact, it’ll likely need to go through a few change and adjustments. This can be discouraging, but it’s actually a sign that you’re getting to know your customers and intended audience. This also helps improve the quality of your efforts. While an integrated marketing plan will ultimately save time and resources, this won’t likely be the case in the beginning.
  • Low Quality: When time is limited, some businesses make the mistake of publishing low-quality content across their marketing channels. This is a mistake that can cause more harm than good. Instead, try to dedicated a week or even a few days at the beginning of each month to develop content, then segment it out for the rest of the month. Use a lower frequency if you must; it’s better to publish 2 or 3 high quality posts per week than several low-quality posts. Also, use templates that can be used or adapted across a variety of marketing channels that already feature your branding and voice.

Tools for Integrated Marketing

By now, you’re probably thinking that is is quite a lot for someone who already has a business to run. SEO, blog posts, social media, ads, email newsletters…it may sound impossible. Fortunately, there are tools offering dashboards that consolidate all of your efforts into one place. In other words, you can monitor your search engine rankings, schedule social media posts, and publish ads all from one platform. Here are a few:

SEMrush (our favorite): SEMrush is a tool that integrates pretty much everything – search engine optimization, search engine marketing, social media marketing, content marketing, and automation – into a single platform. It streamlines and simplifies the management of your digital marketing efforts.

Mailchimp: Most of us know of Mailchimp’s email marketing capabilities, but it now offers so much more.

Adobe Spark: Images, graphics, and videos are vital for successful marketing strategies. However, not everyone is gifted with expert design skills. Adobe Spark makes it easy to create engaging graphic and videos even if you’re not an expert designer or tech savvy.

Thought Leadership Through Integrated Content Marketing

Don’t just try to succeed in your industry: lead the way! Whether you do this on a local scale in Chattanooga or lead your industry globally, thought leadership distinguishes brands on a new level. It offers extraordinary opportunities to scale Share ideas through your content to set yourself apart as a thought leader. This is why it’s so important to carefully integrate your efforts around a consistent message.

Consider a few overarching topics when planning your message. These are the specific topics that you want your business to be known for. This may include a combination of the products, services, experience, and message your business has to offer. It can also include how your business uniquely ties into everything that visitors love about Chattanooga.

For example, our pillars are digital expertise, a multifaceted approach, friendly local service, personalized guidance, and a level of transparency that is severely lacking in digital marketing. We then create content that drills down into the specifics of these broad categories.

Don’t Put it Off: Integrate Your Efforts Now

Integrated marketing takes work and generally means doing things a little differently. It’s easy to put off, especially since the missed opportunities aren’t evident. But once your marketing efforts are integrated, you’ll wish you had done it much sooner. To help motivate employees and department heads to try a new way of doing things, start with what’s in it for them. How will they and their departments benefit from trying a new form of collaboration?

benefits of an Internally Integrated Marketing Plan:

  • Distinction: These days, the brands that succeed are those that set themselves apart. By seeking input from a variety of perspectives within the same business, you can easily discover the small, yet powerful things, that will distinguish your business or brand among potential customers.
  • Better communication: Customer service agents hear from customers all day long. Typically, marketing teams don’t. This is just one of the many examples of how one department can help provide better context for the marketing team.

Bringing it Together: The Goal of Integrated Marketing

The ultimate goal of an integrated marketing plan is to tell a story that sets your  brand apart. Distinction is one of the most crucial aspects of success. Your integrated marketing plan should ensure a consistent message that is authentic, distinct, and accurate across a variety of channels.

This is why we stressed the importance of company-wide involvement. This means each department, including and especially the C-Suite. After all, they possess a bird’s eye view of the organization, its departments, and its customers or clients.

If you own a small business, you probably have a closer connection with customers. What are happy customers telling you or your employees? Why do they choose your business over the competitors? Integrate that message into your marketing plan.

Integrating Marketing Into Your Hiring Process

Labor shortages abound right now, and “now hiring” signs can be found all over Chattanooga. An integrated marketing plan isn’t just about attracting new customers, but also new talent.

How can you set your business apart from competitors for the best talent? By showcasing your employees’ stories. Let potential applicants hear why they should work for your business from your existing employees. You can create employee spotlights through blog posts, videos, and social media updates. As an added bonus, this will help humanize your brand for potential customers.

Need Help? Let us Know!

We get it: this is probably overwhelming. That’s especially true for small businesses who may not have the time or resources to build an integrated marketing plan. If that’s you, let us know! We will take the time to get to know your business and its current marketing efforts. We can also analyze the strategies of your competitors and use our research to help build an effective integrated marketing plan for your business.

Our team has years of experience doing this and have been through many iterations with business across a variety of industries. Let us craft your marketing strategy faster while you focus on running your business. To get started, contact us today!