Not all that long ago, marketing a business boiled down to buying an ad in the newspaper or plastering a slogan on a billboard. Maybe, if the budget was big, you did both. Then, the internet, websites and social media came along and marketing options exploded. These new marketing channels were fun, versatile and, for small businesses, more affordable and effective. Getting the word out about a business or product no longer required a Walmart-size marketing budget.
In marketing, using a wide variety of media to get the word out about a company or product is now the norm. We call it integrated marketing communications. Keep in mind that even though different methods are used to spread the word, the overall message stays consistent across the channels. Now, let’s get into some examples of integrated marketing communications.
An integrated marketing plan is a boon to small businesses because they can pick and choose which and how many marketing channels they use. As they become more comfortable and adept with these marketing efforts, they can add other channels and deepen their marketing reach.
Integrated marketing also has the advantage of reaching different types of customers. Chances are not everyone who visits your business has a Facebook page or an Instagram account. Some pay more attention to their direct mail than their email. A broad-based marketing approach reaches more people and allows for multiple touch points. Integrated marketing can combine old-school marketing techniques like direct mail and traditional advertising with newer options like Facebook posts, email blasts, and YouTube videos.
Integrated Marketing Communications in action
Let’s take a look at how businesses can use Integrated Marketing Communications to boost business. We’ll dive in and look at how a fitness center could go about using IMC. Keep in mind, though, that these examples of marketing communication strategy can be easily adapted to any type of business or organization.
Simple, cheap and effective: Send a postcard
Like direct mail in general, postcards remain effective. They cover a lot of ground, grab attention and, when they include a discount or special offer, tend to be redeemed at a high rate.
So how might a fitness center use a postcard to promote business? A postcard can promote new business by sending mail to qualified individuals or locations. These mailings can include offers such as membership discounts, free trials or bonuses for joining (like a free hour of personal training or free fitness class).
If a fitness facility is new, a postcard can inform people within a reasonable drive about classes, equipment, and staff. It could also offer them a free 3-day trial. Mail can be sent to people in specific geographic areas with every door direct mail, making it easy to inform locals about your classes, equipment, and staff. Pair this with a free trial offer and you can drive traffic while increasing awareness of your company.
Like all direct mail, a postcard must be delivered to the right audience. The first step in determining the audience would be to consider demographic factors like income, age, previous fitness history, residence. The fitness center could then hire a professional mailing service to find and buy mailing lists fitting the criteria. A good mailing list is key to any business’s success.
A gym also could create a referral program and promote it with current members through a postcard mailing. Those who refer friends might earn a free month of membership or a free class. When you collect email addresses, this strategy engages current members, raises awareness and provides you with additional contacts.
Sponsor an event, man a booth and collect emails
Events are a great way to get out there and connect with the general public. Whether you attend a trade fair or sponsor a fundraising event, you can broaden your audience.
It seems like there’s a 5K or a 10K run every weekend when warm weather comes around. Sponsoring an event like a run makes sense for a fitness center. For one, the audience is likely interested in fitness. And, when the sponsorship includes an on-site booth, you can offer contestants the opportunity to sign up for a giveaway (don’t forget to collect email addresses and permission to contact them). Having branded items, brochures, business cards, and other marketing materials, like vouchers for free trial visits, on hand to give away is a good idea.
Make the best use of emails
With all of the emails you have collected from your free trial visitors and 5k giveaway competitors, you can send yet another touch via email. How about an email blast about a new spin or yoga class your location is offering? Or an e-newsletter with stories about instructors, members or new equipment and features? E-newsletters can help build a sense of community, which is key for a business like a fitness center.
The e-newsletter could also include a button for a discounted membership that takes the recipient to a special landing page for sign up. With landing pages, you are able to track response rates and can determine a mailing, email or promotions effectiveness. It’s a good idea to create a schedule of meaningful email messages that can be sent to clients at regular intervals (think drip marketing).
Keep social media feed strong and steady
For many businesses, social media has become a preferred tool for marketing and promotions. Facebook is the most popular. The first step is to create a strong Facebook business page with a complete description, your business location, hours and other information a customer needs most.
When a business posts to Facebook regularly—daily, if possible, but several times a week at the least—customers will see that the company is active and engaged.
The opportunities for a fitness facility range from announcing new classes, posting members achieving fitness goals, sharing health tips and facts. A well-thought-out social media plan could also include posting photos on Instagram, using Facebook Live to broadcast regular Q & As with instructors or YouTube videos of gym members telling personal success stories. When considering social media for your business, be sure to look into multiple networking sites and research whether your audience is active.
This marketing communication strategy example is just the beginning. There are so many possibilities with integrated marketing communications that it can make heads spin, which is one reason businesses often call in professionals, like Bluegrass Integrated Communications, to help them develop an integrated marketing plan. If this is something you are interested in, give us a call.
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