Integrated Marketing Communications: Build A Cross-Team Campaign

How To Make The Best Integrated Marketing Communications Campaign In The World With Multiple Teams 75

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So you need to launch a brand new marketing campaign. Usually, these campaigns entail multiple moving pieces, a plethora of different channels, and a lot of contributors. The best approach to take is usually an integrated one… i.e. integrated marketing communications.

Your team will entail:

  • A Graphic Design team to help you attract your prospects with an amazing experience.
  • Public Relations to help you communicate with + notify your fans and stakeholders.
  • An Advertising team to help you introduce your campaign to thousands of NEW prospects.
  • A Multimedia team to help you reach your audience well beyond the written word (think webinars, podcasts, videos, and beyond).
  • A Social Media team to help you spread the word to your existing community of loyal fans.
  • Product Marketing to help you connect the dots between the prospects you attract and the product or service you’re ultimately selling.
  • As wells as your own marketing team to manage everything behind the scenes + make sure you hit every deadline.

^^^ I bet that just felt daunting. I know. I’ve been there in a past life.

So the questions become:

  • How can you possibly get every team’s management on board to collaborate across these teams most effectively?
  • How can you get the time from the talent you need for the campaign to be as successful as possible?
  • How can you manage the campaign execution process when you aren’t necessarily the supervisor of the folks helping you out?
  • How can you keep every stakeholder (your manager, the teams’ managers, your cross-functional team members, and your higher-ups) in the loop at every moment?

Continue reading this blog post to learn how to:

  • Draft an integrated marketing communications campaign proposal to get approval from the teams’ management to use their resources and talents to make your project successful.
  • Turn your proposal into a serious campaign game plan complete with campaign execution and launch timeline.
  • Break every piece of content on your timeline into realistically delegable workflows that will help you crush your deadline.
  • Keep the campaign on track every step of the way with proven project management frameworks.

Let’s turn you into an integrated marketing communications mastermind, shall we?

Use Marketing Campaigns To Manage Every Campaign In CoSchedule

Looking for an easy way to collaborate across multiple teams? One place where you (and everyone else) can see everything?


Check out Marketing Campaigns in CoSchedule. First, create your campaign, add a color label, and select your start and end dates.

Next, add each individual project that will make up your marketing campaign. You can add things like blog posts, infographics, social media campaigns, webinars… the list goes on.

When adding a new project to your marketing campaign, you can create a custom task list for everyone on the team to know what to do and when.

Download Your Integrated Marketing Communications Templates To Turn What You Learn Into Action Immediately

Your kit that complements this blog post specifically includes:

  1. An integrated marketing communications campaign proposal Word doc template to help you get every stakeholder on board.
  2. A campaign execution and launch timeline Excel spreadsheet template to help you plan when your resources will complete the content within your project.
  3. A marketing workflow process checklist to help you translate content into efficiently delegable tasks your resources will execute.

Download it now. It’s well worth it. Trust me.

Draft Your Integrated Marketing Communications Campaign Plan

Your plan will include three key parts:

  1. A creative brief outlining why you're taking on this project, the audience you're targeting, the verbiage you'll use to attract those folks, and more foundational elements that will help your team understand the purpose of the campaign.
  2. A content and promotion campaign timeline that outlines the phases of work completed toward the ultimate publish date. This helps you understand when your cross-functional team will complete the work for each piece of content within the campaign.
  3. A human resources plan your campaign needs to be successful. This includes the names of the individuals you'll need to pull from other teams to get your campaign completed.

^^^ It's easier than it sounds, and the benefits of doing this give you a solid starting point for a conversation with your manager (to get campaign approval), which you can then take to the other teams' managers to get their approval.

Let's dig in.

Write Your Campaign's Creative Brief

The first thing to nail down is the why.

  1. Why are you taking on this campaign right now?
  2. Why will it be successful?
  3. Why will your audience prefer your campaign on this topic compared to your competition (how will yours be better)?

Anything you can do to back up those answers with your own data will help you prove why your team should take on this project right now.

^^^ The most effective way to do that is by citing how your new campaign idea reflects qualities from your most successful projects you've already launched.

You can do this for yourself by:

  1. Setting Goals in Google Analytics.
  2. Tracking which pieces deliver the highest number toward those goals with a Google Analytics Custom Report.
  3. Analyzing the qualities within those successful pieces to include content like them in your new campaign.

Follow the instructions here for the extreme details on setting all of this up for yourself.

At this point, you'll also want to outline:

  • Your target audience: Keep it simple; this could be, "{Audience title/role} who have issues with {insert challenge}." Or, if you're feeling the pressure from office bureaucracy for a little more polished understanding of your target market, use this free template to create your own persona and include it in your campaign plan.
  • Goal: While you based this campaign on ideas you know have already been successful, this goal isn't necessarily about laying out the "numbers" of what your campaign will generate (though you could include that in your campaign plan, too, if your business needs the data). Instead, write what you aim for your audience to experience. For example, "Attract the right kinds of {audience title/role} who will be interested in {company name's} {product/service}."
  • Call to action: One clear call to action per piece gives your audience way fewer distractions. For your campaign, that likely means the same call to action across all pieces. In your creative brief, this could look something like this: Sign up for your free demo.

Now lay out the verbiage your audience uses to describe the challenges they face that your campaign will solve. This also includes the language they'd likely use to find the content you're publishing within the campaign.

At CoSchedule, we call this framework talking points or speaking points. It's an exercise to help you connect the dots between what you want to market and what your audience cares about.

To do this, you can look at:

  • Audience and/or customer user surveys: If you survey your audience, there is a plethora of information to look through to understand the actual words people use to describe their challenges. If you haven't surveyed your audience yet, it's easy. Use a tool like Polldaddy or SurveyMonkey, and ask one simple question: "Why did you hire/choose {company name}?" Open-ended questions give your audience the freedom to describe the why, which gives you the literal words they use (which, in turn, makes for excellent marketing copy).
  • Blog post comments: If you publish blog posts, your audience likely leaves comments through your comment system like Disqus. Those are GOLD for you to respond back and ask why they found the information helpful. Use their words in your marketing copy.
  • Social media interactions: When someone shares your content or mentions you, you have the opportunity to respond. In that response, you can ask, "Why?" Why did they share? What challenge were they facing that your content helped them solve?

Now it's time to connect the dots between the words your customers, prospects, and audience uses and your campaign's value proposition.

Again, you'll use another why framework.

Let's say your campaign is for a new service offering for integrates one frequently used system or application with another. Ask:

  • Why does my audience care about this new service? Because {insert benefit they get}.
  • Why does my audience care about this {benefit from previous answer}? Because {insert benefit they get}.
  • Why does my audience care about this {benefit from previous answer}? Because {insert benefit they get}.
  • Why does my audience care about this {benefit from previous answer}? Because {insert benefit they get}.
  • Why does my audience care about this {benefit from previous answer}? Because {insert benefit they get}.

It's kind of like a why rabbit hole. You ask yourself, "Why?" Then you keep asking yourself, "Why?" to every answer you come up with.

And to be honest, the example above with you only answering that question five times probably isn't enough. You want to get to the emotional root here, or the ultimate reason your audience will really care.

You're going to come up with common themes right away:

  • They'll save time!
  • They'll save money!

^^ The problem with stopping there is that every single company in the world makes those generic promises. How is your offering different? How is your offering better? What is the real reason your audience wants to save time or money?

Your goal is to come up with three to five emotional root benefits or reasons why your audience will love your product or service.

If your company produces a unique take on baked cookies. Your root benefits might be:

  • Unique flavors.
  • Healthy ingredients.
  • Environmentally conscious.
How To Create A Brand Positioning Strategy That Will Appeal To The Right People

From there, you'll draft speaking points in the form of three to five bullet points. These bullet points each should be about two sentences long and include the verbiage your audience uses as much as possible to attract an audience like the folks with whom you've already connected.

Finally, look up core and related keywords your audience uses to find content like you will publish. This is a process in and of itself, so follow the instructions in this extremely detailed post from SEO mastermind, Ann Smarty, to get started.

So, to recap, your campaign's creative brief includes the following information:

  1. Overview
  2. Why now
  3. Why it will be successful
  4. Why your audience will love it
  5. Target audience
  6. Goal
  7. Call to action
  8. Speaking points
  9. Keywords

Here's A Creative Brief Example From CoSchedule

That's a lot to take in. So use your creative brief template available in your kit that complements this blog post to get started.

And follow along with this example, if you find it helpful.

Project summary

E-commerce research project intended to attract small business owners wanting to launch their own e-shop


  • Who is this for? Small business owners and ‘makers’ that are currently selling on Etsy, farmer’s markets, etc.
  • What problem does this solve? {Insert company name} is finding it difficult to convince designers, makers, small business owners etc. of the benefits of creating their own webshops rather than selling via Etsy. This report will provide {the company} with original data to use throughout the year and will highlight the benefits of setting up an e-commerce site.
  • What is the goal? The primary goal is to increase interest in using {company platform} as the go-to e-commerce platform. This will help position {company name} as the best solution for setting up an e-commerce website. We will create a comprehensive research report that aims to convert 5,000 new paid users by the end of 2019.
  • How will we measure it? This report will be measured based on the number of new accounts generated from gated downloads.


If we shed light on the increased rate of success by simply having an e-commerce site, makers will be more likely to use our platform.


  • Write survey questions
  • Distribute survey
  • Analyze data
  • Write content for the report
  • Design PDF
  • Prepare promotion strategy
  • Measure


  • PR, Graphic Design, Social Media, Analytics, Content Marketing, Email Marketing


  • End of Q2 2019


  • $25,000

Plan Your Content + Promotion + And Resources

What content will your cross-functional team create?

At this point, you simply need to look at a list of all of the different types of content you could possibly include in your campaign.

^^^ You can check out the complete list of content ideas (all 113 of 'em). Literally, copy them from that blog post and paste them into the Content + Promotion Checklist tab (column A) in your integrated marketing communications template spreadsheet.

Content promo tab

Now that you know all of the content you'll create as part of the campaign, you likely have a pretty good grasp on whose help you'll need to execute each piece.

So now you can think of names + resources (internal and external) of the folks who need to be involved. Think of the executioners—the doers—on the Graphic Design, PR, Advertising, Multimedia, Social Media, Product Marketing, and your team.

^^^ Write those names in column B in the Content + Promotion Checklist tab in your template.

At this point, you're just getting acquainted with who you'll need help from to make your project successful. This gives you a framework to have a conversation with each of these folks' managers to get their permission to borrow time from their talent.

Generally speaking, the more often a specific name pops up, the more involved they'll need to be in the project.

Later, after you have the conversation with each team members' manager, you'll literally figure out how much time that person will need to contribute to make the project a success. It's just a little early in the process to start with the math here.

Create Your Campaign Execution And Launch Timeline

You can think of nearly every piece of content in terms of a phased approach for content development:

Write -> Design/Record -> Edit -> Launch -> Promote

And every phase needs to be completed before launch (including prepping all of the promotional elements).

So at this point, you know who needs to be involved in the content creation process. And it's probably pretty obvious to you who you need in each phase for each piece of content.

So, generically speaking, map out when each phase of creation will be completed for each piece of content within your integrated marketing campaign.

Example of a campaign timeline map

You'll use the Campaign Timeline Map tab in your integrated marketing communications template spreadsheet to plan all of this:

  1. Start with one piece at a time. Write the content idea in column A.
  2. Think of weeks and time in a generic sense right now: In the first week of taking on this specific piece, what phases will be completed? Start with column B (or week 1) for all pieces for the moment.
  3. Once you've mapped out the timeline for each individual piece, match the team member name with a color so you can easily see how much is on someone's plate in a given week at a glance. This is optional, but it seriously makes things easier because if you delegate too much to a single person to complete in a single week, chances are, they'll cause delays in the entire campaign execution process.
  4. Now move the starting weeks of content creation to stagger the workload to be as realistically doable as possible. This means simply copying every phase of content creation starting in column B (or week 1) to the last column with execution in it, and moving it all back at least one week. You'll stagger all of the content this way. Note: Execute the most important content first so if things hit a delay or snag of some kind, you have the option of cutting less important content items to make sure you publish the campaign on your deadline launch date.

Now you have:

  1. A complete list of the content you'll create within the campaign
  2. The actual timeline detailing when each piece will be executed
  3. An understanding of when you will need time from each person involved in the process

Here's A Campaign Timeline Map Example

Let's take a look at the actual campaign timeline map so you can see what this looks like in practice:

integrated marketing communications campaign timeline map example

You'll note this looks different than your spreadsheet template.

I've made some optimizations for yours to make it better: Each week is split into two columns so you can see who needs to complete their work at the beginning of the week and who needs to wrap up things at the end of the week.

Additionally, I'd recommend using multiple rows for a single piece of content as needed. This may be necessary as you work through two phases of content development at the same time for a single piece of content.

For example, you may be able to write emails while at the same time another team member schedules social media messages. Neither of these tasks relies upon one another to be completed first or second, so having different team members execute these at the same time will help you move through the campaign creation process faster.

Finally, think of your template as a framework—a starting point. Customize it as you see fit.

Note: If you need your manager's approval to kick off campaigns, now is the time to do it. Follow the step-by-step here to start.^^^ Getting higher-ups on board and on your side from the get-go makes collaboration easier among your co-supervisors and cross-functional teams as you begin executing.

Get Approval From The Talent's Management

Now's the hardest part of the entire integrated marketing communications campaign process.

Or is it?

You've already done the hard work! Now it's just time to show each of the cross-functional team members' managers what you plan to do and set some expectations of what you'll need from the talent.


Set up a one-on-one meeting with each teams' supervisor.


If one of these folks is a bureaucratic pest, their depressingly contagious opinions won't infect the supervisors who'll be cool with your IMC proposal. One-on-ones give you the opportunity to deflect that behavior on a person-by-person basis.

So, set up 30-minute one-on-ones with the:

  • Graphic Design Lead
  • Head of PR
  • Advertising Manager
  • Multimedia Supervisor
  • Social Media Manager
  • Head of Product Marketing

Yes, I know that's three hours of meetings. But as I mentioned, you're doing this to avoid the negativity of the psychological principle of conformity.

Follow this itinerary:

  1. 5 minutes: Show your integrated marketing communications campaign creative brief. This is high-level stuff. Begin by saying, "To start, I simply want to fill you in on why we're taking on this project." Then literally walk them through the creative brief.
  2. 5 minutes: Show the content + promotion checklist. After they have an understanding of why you're tackling this campaign now, they will likely want to know what you need help creating. Showing off the checklist immediately after the campaign overview gives your co-supervisors a quick overview of every piece of content you plan to publish as part of the project.
  3. 5 minutes: Gather content + promotion feedback. Chances are, your co-supervisors are likely to have feedback the moment they see all of the content you plan to create for the campaign. Give them the opportunity to provide it. Do not push back at this point, but play the role of a listener. You're asking to use their resources to execute these projects; therefore, they likely have domain expertise on certain pieces you can learn from.
  4. 5 minutes: Show your campaign timeline map. Since the timeline map breaks down when you expect specific team members to complete phases of content development, it makes sense to show this to your co-supervisors after they see the general content + promotion checklist. This is ultimately the biggest part of the meeting, because it demonstrates how often you'll need to tap into your co-supervisors' resources.
  5. 10 minutes: Gather feedback on the campaign timeline map. Your co-supervisors likely have experience with specific content workflows, the amount of time it takes to complete each task, and so on. Gather that information now so you can break each piece of content into easily delegable, task-based workflows you'll use to kick off the campaign (you'll learn more on that in a bit).

Your goal is to leave the meeting with two things:

  1. An actionable to-do list of optimizations you'll make to the campaign's creative brief, content + promotion checklist, and timeline map based on each supervisors' feedback.
  2. Your yes: Confirmation that if you proceed forward with the planned optimizations, you will get the resources you need from each supervisor to complete the campaign. At the end of your meeting, ask, "If I incorporate the feedback you suggested, will you support this campaign and provide the resources we need to make it successful?"

Get your yes, then end the meeting.

Break Each Piece Into Delegable, Task-Based Workflows

Each piece of content within your integrated marketing communications campaign needs a workflow.

That means you need to break each piece into clear tasks you'll assign to individuals.

Get a deep dive of the process here.

Otherwise, here's a quick overview of how to break down a single piece into delegable tasks. You'll follow this process one time per every piece in your campaign:

  1. List every step that needs to be completed before you'd consider the piece complete. Don't limit yourself at first: Write down everything: writing, designing, promoting, approvals, and anything else you typically do to execute a piece like this.
  2. Cross out the steps you don't need to do. Delete the ones that:
    1. Belong in other workflows.
    2. Have always been done simply because you've always done them that way... but don't necessarily make the content any more successful.
    3. Are outdated.
    4. Exist purely to serve office bureaucracy.
  3. Combine similar steps together into single tasks. For example, if you listed something like "Write the content" and "Write the headline" as separate steps, you can now combine them into a single task to assign to a single person: "Write the content". At this point, write what the definition of done for this task means (set your expectations): "This task involves writing the body copy, headlines, and {insert expectation}." These things must be complete before checking the task as complete because this is now the definition of done.
  4. Determine who will complete each task. Reference your content + promotion checklist to see the list of names involved in the project. Assign those folks specific tasks (with definitions of what done means) to complete.
  5. Figure out how long it will take to complete each task. Your meetings with the talents' supervisors gave you the opportunity to discuss workflow and time involved in content production. Use that information here to provide enough time to complete each task. Alternatively, you could informally ask your talent for their input on how long they'd estimate it would take them to complete each task to make your due dates as realistic as possible.
  6. Plan the due dates for each task. Starting with the last task in the workflow: How many days before publish should it be due? From there, you can map backward from the last task in the list to the first to know when you will start working on the piece. You can also use your campaign's timeline map to help you understand when to assign tasks since you've already mapped the phases of content production for each piece, generally speaking.
  7. Delegate each task to a specific team member with a clear due date. There are three things to get right:
    1. Notify each team member of every task they own the moment you assign them.
    2. Remind each team member before the task is due so they have the opportunity to complete it on time (if they haven't already started).
    3. Give them a method to collaborate and communicate with others executing the project (and NOT via email, things get lost)

CoSchedule's task templates feature is built specifically to help you do this extremely efficiently. Here's how:

Once you've put all your tasks into the project. Simply turn it into a task template.

It's ready for you to re-use for every future project. No more time wasted planning due dates and delegating tasks. It does all the work for you.

Execute (And Keep Everything On Track)

Now you can use Marketing Campaigns in CoSchedule to:

  1. Plot out every publish date for every piece.
  2. Create workflows for every piece.
  3. Automatically notify each team member of every task they need to complete.
  4. Automatically remind each team member they have tasks to complete (before they miss their due dates).
  5. Collaborate on each piece of content within your campaign without overwhelming email strings.
  6. Give every stakeholder one place to see everything.

Good luck as you get started with your new integrated marketing communications campaign!

This blog post was originally published on May 30, 2017. It was updated and republished on May 28, 2019.

About the Author

Demand generation enthusiast, content marketing advocate, and team player. I love new ideas, strategy, and efficiency.

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