The phrase ‘winning the battle, losing the war’ has many applications. One that springs to mind is my argument to my kids that if we got dogs, I’d end up doing all the work. That I was ultimately proven correct feels like a pyrrhic victory at best. Another example is brands that invest only in short-term tactical plans for comms and marketing.

A myopic focus on quick wins means that while you might achieve campaign spikes, you lose the opportunity to build a brand over time and develop strong, lasting relationships with your customers.

Of course, when you’re racing towards a reporting deadline that requires measurable proof points, or facing pressure from your CEO to deliver quickly, you need fast results. But brands are built through long-term strategic plans as well as timely campaigns.

To strike the right balance and get results over time, you need to stop thinking of your comms channels as different tactics. PR, social, content, creative, digital – they all need to work together to deliver your strategy.

Strategy, then tactics

Your strategy is your starting point for any marketing communications plan or campaign. It should speak to an audience insight, challenge or goal and be based on your ultimate point of difference as a business. And it needs buy-in from all your stakeholders before you develop a plan of attack.

Once you agree on your strategy, integration is essential. You must find the right channels to speak to the right people, rather than starting from the point of “this is a PR campaign” or “this is a social campaign”. There’s probably no point in forcing content onto Tik Tok if you’re speaking to B2B buyers or you’re selling home and contents insurance. Well, not unless you can convince Charli D’Amelio to develop an outstanding “how to assess the true value of your property to ensure you are not under-insured” dance that goes really, really viral.

Likewise, if the campaign isn’t newsworthy, a press release is unlikely to bring you much bang for your buck. If you’re trying to promote, say, an incremental improvement in your product, a social campaign targeting existing prospects and customers may work better.

Customers don’t see a difference between tactics when they’re interacting with your brand. Whether they’re reading news coverage, liking a social post, reading an eDM or seeing your flyer in their mailbox, all they want is for your comms to be clear, useful, entertaining or informative.

Seeing what works

Often, you’re using a channel or comms tactic because “that’s the way we’ve always done it”. If your company is used to traditional advertising and PR, but dubious about social media, it can be hard to shift the dial.

The good news is, it’s not an all-or-nothing approach – you don’t need to move your entire budget to digital or scrap your strategy to try a different medium. It’s about integrating your channels in a way that makes sense for your goals and audience.

Say you’re a retailer who has always used catalogues and local radio spots to promote sales. You can easily supplement this with a social media campaign that promotes your catalogue offers specifically to residents near your stores and measures how many of them take up your offer. Maybe trial a Spotify ad campaign or sponsor a relevant podcast to reach a new audience of listeners who aren’t glued to radio. You’ll reach a wider group of potential customers, giving them a consistent experience no matter what channel they’re using, and build brand awareness with more regular exposure.

Measurable impact

Any marketing activity, be it creative, digital, social or PR, needs to have impact. Delivering a consistent message across your channels will deliver greater returns by giving potential customers more chances to convert.

When a consumer comes across something interesting from an unfamiliar company, it’s a pretty common next step to search for the brand online. If you’re don’t have strong website content, good media presence and up-to-date social channels for them to find, you’re doing yourself a disservice. And once you’ve captured their attention on these channels, you need a way to retain their interest and grow the relationship –an email newsletter, a loyalty program or an engaging social feed.

An integrated comms strategy lets you build this repertoire of marketing messages so they work together effectively. Once you’ve got this developed, you can better connect the dots with remarketing and nurturing strategies. Consider this example – you’re launching a PR campaign for a product launch that’s driving traffic to your site. You can get more value out of that investment with a follow-up retargeting campaign that targets anyone who visited the landing page on social media so they can find out more about the brand or sign up for a product demo.

By taking an integrated approach, you not only get the immediate hits of website traffic or social engagement – you’ll see improved ROI over time.

The way forward

The future of marketing is an integrated one. In an increasingly competitive market, you need to be wary of ‘quick win’ thinking and use your combined comms channels to deliver on your long-term strategy. And that will be one war you know you’ve won, which will bring you great comfort when you’re walking the dogs in the rain.

To find out more about building an audience-first integrated marketing strategy, get in touch with our team today.