Mar. 24 by Brannan Atkinson |

Building an Integrated Marketing Plan — Intro

Integrated Marketing - Lights

In many ways, we’re all integrated marketers.

Having written hundreds of plans and proposals, I know the hardest part is making all the pieces fit together in a final plan that you can share with others. Plans always sounds better in your head than they ends up on paper.

And then you have to make it fit within a budget. We\’ll have some suggestions to help with that process as well.

In this series, we’re going to tackle three important parts of the integrated marketing puzzle:

  • Audience identification and prioritization
  • Content development
  • Content delivery, aka channel management

Target -> Weapon -> Delivery


If you’re like me, you keep a couple of books nearby because every page is filled with useful tips and inspiration. One of those books for me is Unleash the Warrior Within by former Navy SEAL Richard Machowicz. It’s packed with the no-nonsense type of advice you would expect from a special operations warrior.

Much of what Machowicz teaches applies to the marketing challenges that you and I face every day. There is one particular message that stuck with me over the years:

  • Target dictates weapon
  • Weapon dictates delivery

Think about Zero Dark Thirty and the hunt for Osama Bin Laden. Once the CIA located the house in Abbotabad, they had some confidence where the Bin Laden (the target) was. The fortified location and need to avoid collateral damage dictated the use of SEAL Team Six (the weapon). Once that decision was made, the CIA decided to use super-secret helicopters (the delivery) that could evade Pakistani radar and insert the team on the ground.

Let’s translate this to a marketing objective and say you want to reach CEOs (target audience). The best way to get their attention are referrals from people they trust or recommendations from a mentor (the content). Then the final step is to determine the right channel, which in this case could be current clients or good friends who have relationships with the CEOs your want to reach (the delivery).

I know that some people will object to the military analogy. Marketing campaigns are not designed to inflict damage or injury of any kind (except maybe to your competitors\’ pride, ego and quality of sleep). That’s not the point.

The military invests more time and energy than any organization understanding how to set and achieve goals in complex environments. Marketers today face the most complex markets we’ve ever seen — and they continue evolving on a daily basis.

Another advantage of military strategy is overall simplicity. The last thing you want on a battlefield is a complex plan that takes hours to decipher.

I saw this first-hand in some work that I did with a major airline company. The original crisis management manual filled two five-inch notebooks. Not very useful. After a crisis, the plan was later simplified to 25 pages to make it more useful (and portable) in the field.

Simple process. Great results.

You can follow the Target -> Weapon -> Delivery process iteratively until you have a well-developed, comprehensive marketing plan. And you may have multiple ways of reaching each target audience to increase your odds of success.

The goal is to put you and your organization in the best position to succeed. That’s what this series is all about.

We’re going to dive into each piece of the puzzle in detail:

  • For target audiences, we’ll discuss a better way to develop and prioritize your target audiences
  • For content development, we’ll help you take stock of your content inventory and decide the best methods depending on your target audience
  • For channel management, we’ll recommend six different ways of sharing your content and how to measure your success

Your integrated marketing plan

Throughout this process, we\’ll going to help you score each element of your plan, including target audiences, content and channels.

The total scores will then help you prioritize projects so you can decide what to work on first.

Integrated marketing series:

  • Intro
  • Part I — Target audiences
  • Part II — Three ways to analyze target audiences
  • Part III — Content development
  • Part IV — Channel management
  • Part V — Prioritizing and budgeting

As always, we look forward to your feedback.

Filed Under: Marketing

Image Credit: Ryan McGuire

Brannan Atkinson

Brannan Atkinson, APR, is a partner with Amy Atkinson Communications. His 20-year marketing career includes being the public information officer for the City of Richmond (Va.), president of a PR firm, and CMO of a software company. He writes about integrated marketing, data and authority marketing. Connect with him on Twitter or on Google+.