Integrated Marketing Communications Plan Outline 2009, Hutchins, Et al.

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1 Creative communications for innovative companies. Integrated Marketing Communications Plan Outline 2009, Hutchins, Et al. Prepared by: James A. Hutchins IMC Instructor, University of Washington President, Hutchins, Et al.. Hutchins, Et al., PO Box 884, Fall City, WA 98024, ,

2 The following is a detailed outline that marketing communications professionals can use as a primer to write their own integrated marketing communications plan. Use this as a guide to write your plan. The questions are things to consider, not necessarily on which to write detailed dissertations. Stick to the major headings and include what is most appropriate to the situation. Executive Summary First develop your plan and then come back to do the executive summary. The goal of the executive summary is to give a 30-thousand foot view of your key challenges, key discoveries and key strategies. Keep it no more than a couple pages--shorter, if possible. Business Review Facts of the Business Begin with the fundamental facts of the business. Put your CEO hat on. Step outside your role as a marketing person where objectives such as awareness or next week's sales prevail, and consider the core indicators and underpinnings of what your company is trying to do. What is the corporate objective? Everything you do should map to the objective of your firm. For most companies the objective is to make money. How does it intend to make money. Not-for-profits have other objectives. In addition to making money, what else is it trying to do? What is the business model? (How does the business make money?) This is an important dynamic to understand, especially if you are working on a small piece of the larger picture. Without revenue you don't have a viable business. Understand the business model so you can see other marketing and business opportunities. What drives demand? Where does demand for your product come from? Why does a customer group value your product or service? What would happen if your company were to disappear? Where do profits come from? Revenue and profits are very different. For a grocery, it is likely that selling groceries accounts for 80% of their revenue, but selling shelf space may account for up to 40% of their profits. Look beyond the obvious, look at the whole corporate picture. Any special dynamics? Any product seasonality--a time when it sells better or has more appeal? What might influence sales? For example: An airline has high fixed costs (cost of the plane, fight staff, food, fuel, etc.). The plane will take off despite how many passengers are on board. This dynamic must be factored into your planning.

3 What is your core competency? At what is your company really good? Core competency is not necessarily differentiation. Your core competency might be your competitor's too. Situational Analysis After taking into consideration the basic fundamentals of the business, consider the current state of affairs as it relates to your goals and internal/external issues. What is the immediate business objective? How will your company's success be measured? That is how your success should be measured too. What effect are outside/inside events having on the business? What new products, changing habits, laws, price fluctuations, consumer attitudes, employee attitudes, etc. have or may influence your customer purchase patterns? Category Definition Now take off your CEO hat and put on your industry analyst hat. What is the competitive landscape? Who are potential competitors? In what categories are you competing or may be competing? What is the "category"? Broadly defined? Narrowly defined? The narrow definition will be simple. Step back and think about the broad definition. You may determine that various customer segments may have different definitions. With software for example: less engaged users may lump word processing software with all other computer stuff; more engaged users may put it in a productivity software category (separate from games); still others may put it in a word processing software category. Who is the competition? What are they doing and saying? A basic consideration, but dive deeper to examine the competitive messaging and positioning. Also look at competitors for the customers time and attention. For example: TV is a competitor for gaming software. Most/least important competitor? Why? If you think you already know the answer, then go through the exercise of determining why they are not your most/least. Nothing is worse than a medium player unexpectedly rising from nowhere. What differentiates the business/product from competitors? Or, what doesn't differentiate you from your competition. Both are equally important. Search for opportunities to "change the game" or to stand out from the crowd. SWOT Analysis Now put your shareholder hat on. What would you like to know about the company? The SWOT analysis is a powerful tool which forces you to think about strengths you should exploit and weakness you ought to play down or improve. In developing a longterm plan you should concentrate on taking advantage of opportunities and protecting

4 the company from threats. Strengths and weakness should be inwardly focused. Opportunities and threats should be from external factors. Strengths? Weaknesses? Opportunities? Threats? Consumer Segmentation It's time to put on your consumer hat--and leave it on. What do you know about customers and prospects? There are many variables by which to segment customers--demographics, psychographics, usage, behavior, etc. Each of these variables ought to be examined; then decide upon which a final customer segmentation can be created. What perceptions exist that underlie behavior? Japanese cars are better than American cars. A small bottle of perfume is better than a large bottle of perfume. And so on. What contact points are most influential to purchase behavior? Each contact point is a medium by which you send a message to a customer. Whether it is a 30-second commercial or a smile from a flight attendant. Find the contact points that make or break the company's success and determine what is being done to maximize that contact. What is the key insight you have discovered about customers and prospects? Insights are not quantitative. They should be qualitative and insightful. How do you "hit the sweet spot" with your target audiences. What is your customer segmentation? Based on the knowledge you have gathered, what is your proposed segmentation? How will you reach them? What is each segment worth and how will you alter their behavior? Start with the low hanging fruit. IMC Recommendation Now comes the fun part--and the tough one. Now you need to put it all on the line. Message Strategy What is the Current Think and Current Behavior of your target customer(s)? What key message(s) will help change that attitude and behavior? What Key Facts support the message(s)? What do you want the Future Think and Future Behavior to be? Marketing Communications Objectives Objectives (sometimes called goals) are what you want to do--"build awareness." Prioritize and list your objectives. Several strong, attainable objectives are better than a laundry list of hopes and dreams. Keep them as basic as possible.

5 Marketing Communications Strategies Strategies are how you are going to get there--"use advertising and PR." Save your specific tactics for later. Keep strategies broad and prioritize them. What are the key initiatives that make up the foundation of all the tactics you will recommend? Remember to consider both external and internal communications that may need to be addressed. Tactics Specifically, what tools are you going to use? To which customer segment is each tactic targeted? Priorities Unless you are infinitely rich, you cannot implement all your great ideas. Determine what tactics will give you the greatest return on your investment, for the budget you have, and then list them from most important to least. Timing What needs to be done first, second, third? What resources can you reasonably muster? What sales or product event deadlines do you need to meet. Set reasonable deadlines with enough time to do the job well. Plot it on a promotional calendar. Feedback Loop How are you going to tell what's working and how well? Set up systems to track where customers and prospects are hearing from you? Identify tracking mechanisms to determine the return on each tactic. Involve sales, customer service and others to help. Costs What will all this put you back? Include internal costs, outside costs, media, etc. If you don't have any idea on costs, look to associates, agencies, etc. who will help give you a ballpark idea. Be thorough because you cannot go back after the budget is approved. Broad budgeting categories will help you later when you need to "rob Peter to pay Paul." Supporting Documentation Include an addendum of all the detail for the "bean counters" among us. Include your detailed competitive analysis, promotional calendar, media schedule, etc. Don t go it alone: If you need further assistance in developing or implementing your integrated marketing communications plan, feel free to contact Hutchins, Et al. at or

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