This is the second in a three-part blog series on integrated marketing communications (IMC). Here, we will discuss the details of IMC planning and see how the RACE framework can be used.
IMC planning has the following steps:
- Determination of Target Audience – there needs to be a specified audience as talking to a generic one would not create the intended effect and impact and would be akin to throwing darts in the dark.
- Carry Out a Situational Analysis – here, a SWOT analysis comes in handy. It is understood as identifying strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats that a business or brand currently faces, to determine which factors can be leveraged for effective communication.
- Identifying IMC Objectives – building awareness, inducing product use, or boosting sales are often the common objectives for IMC plans. The intent is to make the end goals measurable so that the results can be accounted for.
- Finding Out the Budget – it is important to be realistic and not overreach, being very mindful of what best can be achieved within the budget.
- Strategies and Tactics – strategy is a way to achieve a business objective, while tactics determine how the strategy will be played out. For instance, increasing awareness as a goal might rely on reaching high SEO results, while the tactics will be the methods used to get there.
- Implementation, Evaluation, and Measurement – finally, the last step is the implementation of the plan, followed by the evaluation and control of its aspects, and the measurement of the results. The results should ideally be conducive to positive investment returns; otherwise, it is necessary to re-evaluate.
Since marketing is more or less wholly digital now, the Reach, Act, Convert, and Engage (RACE) framework gives marketers an easy way to design digital marketing communications. After defining the marketing goals and strategy, the framework performs the following activities:
Reach – the intent is to increase audience by relying on paid, owned, and earned media; meanwhile, the corresponding measures are the numerical size and quality of the audience as well as the monetary value and cost of the audience. From the buyer’s point of view, this is where they explore and become aware of new offerings.
Act – here, the brand tries to boost audience interactions, increase subscribers, and generate leads to impact the buyer’s decisions to buy. The measures of interest are the number of leads, the lead generation rate, the number of visitors to a site, plus subscribers, likes, and shares.
Convert – at the purchase stage of the buyer’s journey, the emphasis is on generating sales online or offline while the measures to look at are revenues, profits, and buyer’s order value in monetary terms.
Engage – the last step in the buyer’s journey is advocacy. Here, the focus is on using social media marketing primarily to turn customers into loyal advocates and promoters of the brand. The important measures for marketers are customer lifetime value, brand satisfaction, and word of mouth, among others.
In the next part, we will look at the various IMC channels at a marketer’s disposal and the relative importance of each.
Arslan Ahmed | Staff Writer