What is an Integrated Marketing Communications Plan?
An integrated marketing communications plan ties together strategy and tactics, including PR, social media, digital advertising, traditional print advertising, and SEO.
It serves as the foundation of all of your marketing and PR efforts for your business.
The most effective healthcare marketing plan is part of a larger integrated communications plan.
How much should I allocate for a marketing budget?
As you begin a quarterly review and audit of your marketing activities, it is important to look at the different tactics deployed throughout the year.
How to evaluate your annual marketing spend in Q4:
Before you can evaluate your marketing campaign, review your signed contract with your PR firm or healthcare marketing agency. Carefully look at the agreed-upon Key Performance Indicators (KPI’s) and see if they were met.
You want to view performance in the context of campaign goals and measures of success.
Remember, not everyone has the same measure of success, which is why it is critical to align on goal setting before you begin any new marketing activity.
For example, a PR firm could evaluate success as an increase in awareness and brand equity as a result of five press placements, whereas a doctor could view success as five new patients as a result of Google ads.
Assess your marketing success (and failure)
Every business and medical practice should conduct a year-over-year analysis of marketing and PR activities.
You want to review how your marketing activities compared to the previous year vs. the resources deployed to achieve the results.
- Did sales increase from your marketing activities?
- Did your search traffic spike from a content marketing strategy?
- Did your brand equity increase from a PR campaign?
- Did something else change in your practice that could be the real reason for growth?
Isolate the variables before diagnosing what worked and what didn’t.
Key: Marketing performance analysis is critical to evaluate what is really moving the needle and top-line revenue growth.
How to evaluate your marketing spend
Review the following key questions:
- What worked.
- What activities successfully increased new patients, media exposure, leads, or sales? What increased open rates, click-through rates and engagement?
- What didn’t work.
- What marketing activities flatlined? What led to a surge of people unsubscribing from your newsletter? What content has a 100% bounce rate? Was the cost per click too high for the results you expected to achieve?
- What needs to be cut from the annual marketing budget.
- Have you consistently purchased traditional advertising that doesn’t move the needle? Time to reevaluate moving resources around.
- What resources need to be added for new marketing/PR activities.
- If you want to try a new marketing tactic, you need to plan out the budget for each new area.
- Cost vs. outcome.
- What did you spend for the cost of customer acquisition vs. what was the return?
- ROI of each marketing activity.
- Was your return on investment higher than what you spent on the advertising tactic? Or did you end up losing money?
How to Create a Cohesive Integrated Marketing Communications Plan
After you have reviewed your annual marketing performance, it is time for the fun part- trying out new marketing activities for the year to create a well-rounded integrated marketing communications plan.
As you create an integrated marketing communications plan for your medical or legal practice, consider testing several different marketing tactics.
For example, an earned media strategy that only includes PR and nothing else is not an integrated strategy.
You want to avoid the silo approach and work towards an integrated approach.
PRO Tip: Integrated marketing means pulling from different types of media including paid media, earned media, shared media, and owned media.
- To integrate something, you must have more than one marketing tactic.
Even though social media marketing is a cost-effective and enticing marketing channel for doctors, it is important to remember that social media is a tool and not something that can replace a strategic communication plan. In fact, some physicians may not need social media tactics in their strategy because it may not be effective in reaching their desired end-user or target audience.
HEALTHCARE MARKETING PLAN
5 new healthcare PR and Marketing tactics.
Looking to try something new this year? Consider these tactics creating your integrated marketing communications plan:
Experiential Marketing: Create an experience for your target consumer or patient to interact with your brand in a real-world setting, such as branded festivals, pop-up shops, and behind-the-scenes tours. This face-to-face engagement, which is best used to enhance and complement traditional marketing campaigns, leads to an emotional connection with consumers, something that is necessary to reach GEN Y consumers.
Sponsored Content: Native advertising and sponsored content is still paid advertising, but it looks like editorial content. This content can be a sponsored tweet on Twitter, a suggested sponsored post on Facebook, or sponsored piece of content paid for by the advertiser. Sponsored content has a higher click-through rate than traditional banner advertising. According to a recent survey, 70% of individuals wanted to learn about products through content rather than through traditional advertising. The survey also stated that people view native ads 53% more than banner ads. Also, interesting to note, 71% of publishers received no major complaints from readers for featuring native ads. It is important to remember that the information and tone of your sponsored content is still key in running a successful PR and marketing campaign.
Search Engine Optimization (SEO): Google is the first stop when prospects want to learn more about your business or medical practice. Your goal should be to get your brand on the top page of relevant search results because 75% of users never scroll past page one. SEO can take a lot of time and thought, but you can begin by trying keyword analysis, which will enable relevant searches to link to your site. Also, be sure to use quality website content with on-trend keywords and phrases. 61% of global Internet users research products online prior to buying, making the Internet and search-friendly content the best way to reach customers today.
Blogging: You would be amazed how many companies and physicians have yet to embrace a healthcare content marketing strategy. Writing for the sake of writing isn’t enough in an SEO-driven world. What format are you going to put the content in? A blog? Downloadable e-book? Listicles? Guest posts? Writing a blog is a great way to craft your brand’s voice and engage consumers in a more real and thoughtful way. Companies that blog typically generate 88% more leads than those that do not. Businesses that blog more than 20x a month generate 5x more consumer interest and attraction. Frequency and quality are the two most important factors when beginning your brand’s blog. What is your content strategy?
Promoted Social Media Posts: One out of every 7 minutes spent online is spent on Facebook. Social media in the US has increased by 356% since 2006. The most important thing to remember when using social media is to know your audience. Where are they? Is your target audience mostly on Twitter? Or Instagram? What do they respond to? Do they prefer engaging in conversation or do they want short, snappy one-line posts? What type of content has resonated with your audience on Facebook? Analyze it then boost accordingly! Boosting posts is also a great way to reconnect with fans who may not have seen your posts in a while. Once you know your target audience, you’ll know where and how to best reach them.
Inbound Marketing: Traditional advertising is no longer as effective as it used to be. Studies show that a whopping 86% of people skip TV ads and 44% don’t open mail from irrelevant advertisers. The answer to traditional advertising woes is Inbound Marketing, or “earned advertising.” Rather than pushing your message out to the consumer, Inbound Marketing compels consumers to find out more about your brand. Inbound marketing includes, but isn’t limited to blogs, social media, and search engine refinement, which make your brand more noticeable to consumers.
These are just a few of the strategies that doctors can use to create a successful integrated marketing communications plan.
B2B Marketing Strategies | What should be in a marketing communications plan?
Different vehicles to reach your target audience paired with tactics to achieve your desired business goals and objectives.
People are disappointed because they try one tactic and hyper-focus on that thing. Investing in one area and ignoring every other is not a solid marketing strategy.
- Content Marketing
- Paid Social Ads
Any one of those tactics in isolation is not a well-rounded strategy. It is a piece out of an entire pie. Do not place unrealistic expectations on one marketing tactic or you will be disappointed. Trying something in a silo is not a well-executed B2B marketing plan.
People consume content and information in different ways. For example, maybe you hate listening to podcasts, but someone trying to get your attention loves podcasts. They pour their entire marketing budget into podcast advertising and sponsorships. At the conclusion of the campaign, they determine podcast advertising is a failure.
But the truth is, podcast advertising is not a failure. The failure was on their lack of market research in understanding where to reach you. They may never reach you if you don’t listen to podcasts, but they may reach people who do.
Drawing a conclusion from a small dataset and sample size is where a lot of small business owners go wrong. They market first without analyzing the audience consumption preferences of the people they are trying to reach. Personalized marketing is the future and one size fits all marketing is a relic of the past.
Do not over-index on any one type of marketing avenue.
Investing in one marketing tactic at a time is not the way to reach consumers today. This is a short-sided approach that will ultimately end in failure due to the overreliance on any one marketing channel to perform.
PR is only one part of a comprehensive integrated marketing communications plan.
A well-thought-out IMC strategy should include a PESO model that incorporates all four areas into the mix:
- Paid Media
- Earned Media
- Shared Media
- Owned Media
These four media vehicles must work together to make sure you are reaching your target audience through every avenue possible.
- Do not only choose 1 out of the 4 and make that your entire marcom budget.
- Paid media cannot replace earned media.
- Earned media cannot replace targeted digital advertising.
- Targeted digital advertising cannot replace the power of strong content marketing.
- You have to do a mix of all of these PR tactics to remain competitive in your industry.
- The good news is that you can work with healthcare PR & Marketing specialists in each specialty area to execute these tactics for you.
For example, you could work with a NY PR firm that specializes in earned media, and you could also work with a digital marketing firm that specializes in paid lead generation.
Tip: The key is to be where your customer or prospective patient is. Not where you are most comfortable being.
What is owned media?
Owned versus rented platforms
If you rely on social media marketing platforms to generate new business leads and long-term value, it is important to understand the critical difference between owned versus rented platforms. Content is what you own. Social media channels are the vehicles used to distribute the content you created.
Why you should invest in owned content.
When you look at the PESO model, there’s paid media, earned media search, and owned media. As a public relations and media agency, we recommend clients invest in all four areas with a comprehensive approach.
Ten years ago, agency executives said, invest your resources in one specific area versus a combination of all four media channels. Now, we are seeing a drastic change in PR strategy as a result of the pandemic.
Social media is not owned content. Social media falls under the rented bucket.
Over the past ten years, entrepreneurs pulled money out of traditional print advertising and invested in digital platforms.
Social media became the new gold rush.
Now, those same people don’t know what to do because they’ve invested a small fortune or millions of dollars in Facebook ads and they’re being locked out of their ad accounts. From a marketing perspective, that is widely problematic.
Would you invest in something you could easily be locked out of? Does that sound like a safe investment choice for someone who is inherently risk-averse?
Entrepreneurs are left wondering, what do I do with the money I had bucketed to spend in this area and where should I move it to?
Put resources into owned content. The O is in owned. What does that mean? That means a podcast. Content Marketing. An E-book. Owned content is content you produce and you own from start to finish.
Look at who is distributing that podcast, because when put it on Apple, then you’re taking it away from that owned category. If you’re talking about, for example, content marketing, that is owned content.
With the ever-changing state of communication and media preferences among consumers, we are always on the lookout for innovative communication tools and channels. What tools have been most effective to reach your healthcare marketing goals?
How can marketing impact your business decisions?
Digital marketing influences consumer behavior at a subconscious level.
As any marketing consultant can attest, marketing can affect purchasing decisions for every stage of the customer journey.
Marketing impacts what you buy, when you buy it, and the demand to buy a product in the first place.
Social media marketing can encourage you to buy something (even if you do not need it) through the deployment of scarcity and fear of missing out tactics.
Marketing gets people to act.
Public relations influence public perception, while marketing influences personal perception at a subconscious level.
The best marketing influences you in a way that even you may not understand.
Have you ever been driven by the impulse to buy something and you have no idea why?
Chances are scarcity tactics were used on you, including but not limited to:
- Offer ends soon
- Buy now
- Buy one get one free
- 50% off
- Hurry! Time is running out
- Buy now. Pay later
- Share with a friend
- Bring a friend. Get rewarded
The above tactics are sales-driven FOMO marketing tactics that get you to buy.
The goal is to move from awareness to purchase decision. In its truest sense, marketing must move you to do something.
If marketing results in an abandoned cart, chances are, the marketer failed at some level.
How can I get a consumer to buy today, and keep buying?
Next time you buy something, ask yourself, what influenced my decision to buy this?
- Was it a social media advertisement?
- Were you retargeted by digital advertising?
- Did a friend recommend something and you bought it because you trusted them?
- Did you see an expert featured on the news?
The more you understand what moves you to buy, the greater likelihood you can influence others to buy, too.
Until you understand this, you will not understand how to market to others.
True marketing starts with knowing yourself and knowing your customers.
What works on you will work on others, too. The path to enlightened marketing begins with understanding what moves you to take action.
What makes you take out your credit card?
Keep track of those moments. What led the purchase moment? Keep a log of every action taken that led you to that moment to buy.
An integrated communications strategy must incorporate the underlying psychology and motivation of why people buy from your business. Any marketing strategy that fails to incorporate that will be missing the heart of why people buy from you.
HEALTHCARE MARKETING & PUBLIC RELATIONS AGENCY | NYC
Need help developing your marketing communications strategy?
In today’s digital media landscape, PR, Marketing, and Advertising are merging together at a rapid pace. Now, more than ever, it is important for public relations practitioners to be persuasive storytellers in new media formats such as podcasting. There are so many ways to tell a story. As healthcare PR practitioners, we have learned that earned media is not the only way to tell a story.
While it is important to get your message out there through a PR campaign, sponsored content or digital advertising can be instrumental in reaching different target audiences to increase exposure for your medical practice and business.
Do you need help crafting a healthcare marketing plan? It’s your job to focus on the health of your patients. It’s our job to focus on the digital marketing health of your medical practice.
Our award-winning healthcare marketing agency works with doctors, physicians, and hospitals to create proven growth strategies to increase practice revenue goals and drive new patients. Contact us today for a consultation to achieve optimal practice growth for the new year ahead.
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*Date last updated 2022
KRIS RUBY is the CEO of Ruby Media Group, an award-winning public relations and media relations agency in Westchester County, New York. Kris Ruby has more than 15 years of experience in the Media industry. She is a sought-after media relations strategist, content creator and public relations consultant. Kris Ruby is also a national television commentator and political pundit and she has appeared on national TV programs over 200 times covering big tech bias, politics and social media. She is a trusted media source and frequent on-air commentator on social media, tech trends and crisis communications and frequently speaks on FOX News and other TV networks. She has been featured as a published author in OBSERVER, ADWEEK, and countless other industry publications. Her research on brand activism and cancel culture is widely distributed and referenced. She graduated from Boston University’s College of Communication with a major in public relations and is a founding member of The Young Entrepreneurs Council. She is also the host of The Kris Ruby Podcast Show, a show focusing on the politics of big tech and the social media industry. Kris is focused on PR for SEO and leveraging content marketing strategies to help clients get the most out of their media coverage.