Digital, traditional, social, content driven, tailored, promotional, experiential… planning a truly integrated campaign to engage a target audience using the most appropriate mix of channels and touch points can be a daunting prospect.

It normally requires specialist media planners, analysts, and a high degree of technical expertise, but the underlying creative and messaging principles remain refreshingly familiar.

Too often we see technically brilliant campaigns delivered without a compelling message or a memorable creative approach, and they pass us by like ships in the night.

So what can we do?

Start by really understanding the audience

So often marketers pay lip service to customer data and insight, instead choosing to base their propositions on assumptions in the hope that they might strike a chord with the target audience. Stop! The best creative ideas in the world are only going to work if they address the emotional need of the intended recipient. They have to convey what matters most to them (not you!).

You need to spend time understanding who they are and what their current perceptions are in relation to your brand and proposition. What perceptual barriers do you need to overcome to shift from their current position to where you’d like to take them? What are their content needs, and how do they relate to your brand?

Take the time to test! It doesn’t have to be an exhaustive piece of representative research, but it’s always worth speaking to people from the target group to check their perspective. And once you’ve formulated the proposition test it again. Does your proposed communication change their viewpoint, and would it cause them to act in a different way in relation to your brand?

Remember what you are selling

I’ve lost count of the number of times people have spoken enthusiastically to me about their favourite ads on TV, only to be completely stumped when I ask them who the ad was for.

A creative idea which strays too far from the brand may be fantastically entertaining, but is it informing? It’s far better to be intriguing than instantly boring.

This is not to say that you need to be straight laced, or conservative in your creative delivery, but it’s essential to maintain a clear link between the proposition and what the targets already know and perceive about your brand.

It doesn’t need to be integrated!

Limited budget? Dominate one channel rather than spreading yourselves too thinly. Or, fragment the campaign, work in stages. Implementing an initial teaser message, don’t give the whole story straight away. Having a limited budget can sometimes force a more creative response than the ‘safety in numbers’ route.

Let the audience decide

Don’t have a preconceived integrated plan in mind when you start the process. Build a campaign plan around their media habits, their digital behaviours, their content requirements and preferences. But when you have a plan, make sure it’s tight and everyone involved knows their roles within it and milestones are hit with ease.

Though digital is now a multi-channel arena in itself. As more and more traditional print outlets are moving to digital only. The Independent recently announced ceasing it’s print edition to concentrate on digital space. And more will follow.

This of course doesn’t mean simply moving everything over to digital. With websites behaving more akin to TV, with sting takeovers, ad-splashes and new forms of pop-ups, digital is no more just banners, MPUs or skyscrapers.

You’ll need to be more aware of who is looking at what and why. And what message will work and perform best on what channel. And of course consumers are now far more vocal in their response. Just look at Mumsnet, get it wrong, and everyone will know. And that trust is hard to rebuild.

Go for the biggest and most flexible creative ideas

With consumers being bombarded from every angle, it’s not just a matter of who shouts loudest will be heard over the constant chatter. Brands have to be tactile, if anything, become a little softer, less aggressive. Think long term, think multi-channel. Don’t just build a series of tactical campaigns to drive response. Build the brand every time!