3 things you need to know about Integrated Marketing Communications

I fondly remember those early days of my childhood in the village, when we didn’t have a Television set at home, and had to report to a neighbor’s house every day at 6 pm to watch cartoons and go back home an hour later. Those were the most memorable days of my childhood, as we had to get very creative and industrious when it came to playing games.

Instead of Grand Theft auto, we made our own cars out of metallic wires, and organized races whose winners received a prize purchased using small contributions from all the racers. Moreover, there were some entrepreneurial kids in the neighborhood who used to manufacture these cars and sell them to other kids. They had various prices for various quality options: cars made of thicker, more durable wire were more expensive.

Sophistication and even car brand were factors of pricing, as the cost of a Mercedes Benz was logically higher than that of a Toyota corolla. The marketing strategy of these “car manufacturers” was simple: word of mouth.

Technology is fast replacing these experiential interactions in African households, transforming the manner in which “word of mouth” travels. Unlike my younger self, many Africans now receive the bulk of information through screens: phones, tablets, laptops, ad screens, wearable tech, among many others. This is in addition to more traditional media platforms such as TV, print and radio. Subsequently, fragmentation of their attention means that being present on only one of these channels is no longer sufficient to create a memorable impact on your audience.

This calls for an integrated approach to how brands communicate to their potential and current audiences. Here are a few things to note:

Be deliberate about what your brand stands for
As Steve jobs aptly remarked, we live in a very noisy world, and it is getting noisier by the day, as more gadgets and technologies hit the market. You will stand a higher chance of being visible and making a lasting impact on your audience if you manage to articulate your unique input and contribution to the common good.

Just like my childhood “car manufacturers” who brought their distinct personalities into their craft, which subsequently marked their reputations, you need your brand to have it’s own DNA. This will be translated into a narrative that consists of a set of core messages that will be infused in all that you communicate to the public.

Create once and publish everywhere
The multiplicity of platforms and channels tends to intimidate many a brand manager who cringes at the idea of producing a unique story for every channel type. This need not be the case.

One story can be packaged for delivery through various platforms and thereby reach various audiences.

There is no better illustration of this than the #Githeriman internet sensation in Kenya. One photo of a man carrying a transparent bag of a local delicacy queuing to vote was repackaged by Kenyans on twitter who photo shopped him into music videos, celebrity images, new bulletins and other content types that turned one twitter post into a national and global sensation.

As such, once you have a story to share with your audience, work on repackaging it into content such as twitter, Facebook and Instagram posts, LinkedIn article and short video clip for YouTube and other video-sharing platforms.

Adopt a schedule and stick to it
Consistency is critical in brand communications, as the sheer volume of content available online easily drowns dormant brands into oblivion. It is therefore critical to have regular updates for your audiences and prospects.

This however sends shivers down the spines of busy executives whose schedules are simply too busy for them to update their communications platforms. The solution however can be summarized in two words: editorial calendar.

Work with your team to develop a calendar of editorial activities within your team, with a clear allocation of roles on who will provide which content by when. This calendar would be tailored to meet the time constraints of all the key people involved. It however should be prioritized and ruthlessly adhered to, if it is to work. Continuously postponing that communications meeting will simply not do.

This may entail bringing on board an agency that can provide the framework and the monitoring needed to get this right. And here comes the shameless plug: The Newmark PR team is one of the best in the region, and should be your first option for this (www.Newmark-IMC.com).

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