Each year West Virginia University hosts the INTEGRATE conference for Communications professionals. Next year’s conference will be May 29-30, 2015.
One of the ways the c21 team keeps up with the latest strategies in communications is by sharing best practices with one another. At least once a quarter, the team hosts internal Lunch and Learn’s where we share ideas and concepts gained from conferences, seminars and webinars we’ve attended.
I attended the INTEGRATE 2014 conference hosted by West Virginia University in Morgantown, West Virginia. I’m currently pursing my master’s degree in integrated marketing communications (IMC) from the university and each year the WVU Integrated Marketing Communications (IMC) graduate program hosts the INTEGRATE conference, where more than 200 communications professionals attend innovative workshops and breakout sessions, and participate in thought provoking discussions about IMC trends in our industry.
The IMC graduate program is offered exclusively online and allows communications professionals to re-align their marketing activities to ensure a constant flow of information to consumers from a variety of media. Most IMC students, like myself, are able to continue to work full-time while earning their degree.
The students earn a practical, customizable graduate education that is designed to equip them with the skills to emerge as leaders in the field and immediately apply what they’ve learned to their professional lives. The program is taught by a diverse faculty – from marketing directors to academics to entrepreneurs – who are recognized leaders in their fields.
During the c21 Lunch and Learn, I shared a few of the best practices and most creative IMC campaigns with the team. Even though I’ll obtain my degree this December, I’m definitely looking forward to attending the conference again next year. CLICK HERE to check out some of the thoughts I shared with the team.
Here are the remaining c21 tips for marketing on a shoestring budget. When every dollar counts, these tips will help you maximize your resources.
5.) Keep an eye on trends, and play into pop culture as appropriate. Popular music, movies and icons can be a great way to relate to your audience. For example, c21 recently started a lively Facebook discussion for University House on favorite scenes from the movie The Hangover.
4.) Sometimes going against the grain can make you stand out. Not following the standard also can draw attention to your message. For example, while most accounting firms use a color scheme of cream and black or navy, c21 helped Mauldin & Jenkins break the mold with a palette of yellows and light blues – giving it a more contemporary look than its competitors.
3.) Let people to participate. Social media makes it easy to engage your audience instead of just sending them one-way messages. Ask questions, genuinely listen to the answers to gain valuable feedback and begin conversations.
2.) Capitalize on word of mouth. Don’t be afraid to ask your audience to tell their friends about you, and make sharing information easy with Forward to a Friend links, Facebook activity, Tweets and more.
1.) Measure! You’ll never know what’s working unless you measure. Use measurement tools like Google Analytics, tracking from e-mail marketing and social media programs, new business inquiries and more to monitor and tweak your campaigns.
The International Association of Business Communicators’ (IABC) Atlanta chapter recently contacted c21 to take part in a story on economical marketing for its quarterly empart Magazine. We’ll post a link to the article when it’s up, but in the meantime, we wanted to share c21’s top tips for marketing on a shoestring budget.
10.) Look for ways to better use what you have. In this economy, it’s important to capitalize on existing assets. For example, The Avenue, lifestyle shopping centers with locations throughout the southeast, uses its walkable landscapes as the site for many charity walks – getting involved in the community while drawing people to its properties.
9.) Involve all departments in developing creative ideas and cost-cutting measures. Go beyond the marketing team to develop your campaign. Property management may know of the perfect space for your next event, and your IT team may have a great solution for managing the invite and RSVP list.
8.) Leverage the relationships of your team. Use your team’s existing relationships to find the best deal, or better yet, create a centralized database so you can see exactly what resources your team has to offer.
7.) Don’t put all of your eggs in one basket. Develop an integrated marketing campaign to reach your audience in multiple ways. A combination of online tools, including social media, e-mail marketing and Web sites, and offline tools, such as media relations and events, ensures you will reach your target audiences with multiple touch points.
6.) Take advantage of free services. There are lots of free services like Metromix, Craigslist, Facebook event postings and more that can help you extend the reach of your message.
We’ll post the top five later this week, so check back, or sign up to receive c21’s blog posts via RSS or e-mail.