Is integrated b2b communications planning a puzzle?

The CEO comes into your office and says, “We need a new print ad, a radio spot and a brochure to announce our new revolutionary widget to the marketplace.”  Suddenly, you are faced with one of marketing’s moments of truth.If you’ve got the balls to question the CEO, it’s the perfect time for you to say, “Are you sure that’s what we really need? “

This is the opportunity for marketing (or the agency or both) to really be strategic versus just doing exactly what the boss suggests.  After all, we’re the experts, right?  It’s basically like solving a puzzle.

It’s finding what tools we need to integrate in order to make this launch successful.  It’s discovering what is the best, most efficient and effective way to launch this industry-changing widget to your unsuspecting market and understanding the best way to reach the various decision-makers and decision influencers (including the deal killers.) It’s time to match up specific communications tasks to specific media; to make each element of your program responsible for achieving something specific and measurable in the grand scheme of things.

You not only have to look at the special talents of each medium, but also each medium’s relationship to the buying process, and which target audience is most susceptible to which messages, delivered by which medium.

Brand contact points are key to solving the puzzle

The answer to this communications planning puzzle lies in defining the brand contact points you have with various customers and prospects.  What is driving their need for your offering?  Under what conditions are they likely to need and seek out information?  When and where can you be of the most benefit to them?

What emerges once you have begun to figure out how to assemble the puzzle is a well-conceived plan that includes a variety of tactical media choices – some traditional and others non-traditional. If you’ve done it right, you’re speaking to customers/prospects about what they are most interested in hearing at key points in their journey down the purchase path.  Though the medium that’s most meaningful to them at that time.

Planning time well-spent

Planning an integrated communications campaign takes time.  It’s not done overnight, but it’s not gonna take weeks either.  It does take an understanding of the customer or prospect and their buying process.  It requires a generalist’s view of media teamed with experts in print, online and social media.  And, of course, it takes a budget commitment from management.  A well-conceived b2b integrated communications plan will out-perform shotgun approaches any day and help build strong brands while moving prospects along the purchase path to the point where they can make a decision.

And hopefully the next time the CEO comes into your office, the question will be, “When can I see your recommendation for communicating the launch of  Widget II?”

What’s the most recent marketing communications planning puzzle you’ve solved?



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