Integrated Marketing Plan

43 Strategies & Tactics

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Defining Strategy

A strategy is defined as a plan of action intended to accomplish a specific goal. Strategies within any organization have different levels of marketing in which all should be connected including the strategy for the organization, Marketing strategy, Integrated strategy, and IMC strategy. The strategic management process consists of four steps, which are strategic objectives and analysis, strategic formulation, strategic implementation, and strategic evaluation and control.

The primary idea behind an IMC strategy is to create a seamless experience for consumers across different aspects of the marketing mix. The brand’s core image and messaging are reinforced as each marketing communication channel works together as parts of a unified whole.

Tools Used to Implement Strategy

The IMC process generally begins with an IMC plan that describes the different types of marketing, advertising, and sales tools that will be used during campaigns. These are largely promotional tools, which include everything from traditional communication elements and modern communication elements. For example, search engine optimization (SEO) tactics and banner advertisements to webinars, blogs, newspapers, billboards, and magazines are used to inform and persuade consumers.

Marketers must strategically decide on the appropriate combination of traditional and digital communications for their target audience to build a strong brand-consumer relationship. Regardless of the brand’s promotional mix, it is important that marketers ensure their messaging is consistent and credible across all communication channels.

Promotional Strategies

Two main strategies that are commonly used in IMC planning include push and pull strategies. A push strategy is used to ensure the consumer is aware of the existence of the product. A pull strategy motivates customers to seek out a product or service. See below for examples.

Pull Strategy Examples

  • Advertising strategies i.e. mass media promotion of a product
  • Customer relationship management i.e. awareness of new products to existing customers
  • Referrals/word-of-mouth
  • Sales promotions and discounts

Push Strategy Examples

  • Point-of-sale displays that make a product highly visible to consumers
  • Participating in trade shows and showrooms to demonstrate a product or service to potential customers
  • Retailer incentives to stock and sell products, such as discounted bulk pricing

Beyond Push and Pull Strategies

Going beyond push and pull strategies, engagement strategies can further develop an IMC plan. By creating engagement opportunities focused on making a desired impact in the mind–and behavior–of the customer, marketers can better pinpoint not only a winning strategy for their campaign but also incorporate tactics to execute their desired results. For example, if a marketer has a campaign strategy to focus on interacting with their customer base, then a tactic of leveraging social media or hosting an event will be best suited. If for example, a marketer is looking to educate their audience of the work their organization does then a tactic could be to use advertising and content marketing to their advantage.

The following page will further delve into push and pull strategies while incorporating tactics.

NPO Perspective: Consideration of Marketing Strategy Constraints

A marketing strategy can allow an organization to concentrate its resources on optimal opportunities with the goals of increasing sales and achieving sustainable competitive advantage. Marketing strategies are designed to fill market needs and reach marketing objectives. Also, plans and objectives are generally tested for measurable results.

However, the major goal of a Nonprofit Organization (NPO) is to further its non-financial objectives, and NPOs are not necessarily competing with others. Aside from these financial, quantifiable methods such as donations collected or new donors invested, the veracity of an NPO’s ability to measure the success of its marketing plan is limited because their measurements are based on subjective factors. It can be difficult for an organization whose goal is to provide social services or disaster relief to quantify its success.

Defining Tactics

A marketing strategy focuses on strategic planning and capitalizing on new opportunities while exercising the organization’s strengths. A marketing tactic is a technique or tool that the organization can utilize to achieve its marketing strategy. Tactical planning is a part of the nonprofit marketing plan. After understanding your goals, key messages, and audience, you can determine your marketing tactics – What channel you are going to use. Examples of NPO tactics including flyers, email marketing, events, and social media.

To develop a better understanding of the key differences between strategies and tactics, two marketing examples will be discussed below – Push vs Pull.


Push Strategy vs Tactic

When an organization wants to implement a push strategy, it’s aiming to place the product, service, or idea in front of the customer and ensure the consumer is aware of its existence. For example, an NPO’s push strategy could suggest that they are looking at new opportunities to expand their market reach by operating in new distribution channels.

An opportunity would be to spread awareness about a social movement to a different demographic. The push tactic could be an NPO handing out flyers and actively engaging in conversation with bypassers at a local park. Although push tactics are commonly used by for-profit organizations, nonprofit such as Girl Scouts, activist groups,  PTO (Parent Teacher Organization), and PTA’s (Parent Teacher Association) frequently implement push tactics to inform the public and fundraise for charity or causes.

Pull Strategy vs Tactic

When an organization wants to implement a pull strategy, it’s trying to stimulate demand and motivate people to actively seek out a specific product, service, or idea. It is aimed primarily at the end-users, rather than retailers or other middle players in the value chain. For example, an NPO’s pull strategy could suggest that they are looking at opportunities to spread its brand awareness to a new market segment.

An opportunity would be to conduct primary and secondary research to develop a better understanding of popular trends, consumer needs, or important social movements. The pull tactic could be a mass-media advertising and promotional campaign in partnership with a popular influencer that can help promote the organization’s purpose. Alternatively, they could utilize referrals and word-of-mouth recommendations from existing followers to build awareness and demand.

Customers: Segment them differently

Consider TalkingPoints, a nonprofit with a mission to increase student achievement by meaningfully connecting teachers and families through mobile technology. Other companies provide parent engagement tools, but they are largely designed for higher-income customers. Founder Heejae Lim wanted to focus on the needs of low-income families of color. While a for-profit would face investor pressure to pursue the most profitable market segment, TalkingPoints focuses on under-resourced teachers, leading to a product strategy that prioritizes translation in 20 languages and doesn’t require a smartphone. TalkingPoints’ focus on underserved customers positions the organization to dramatically increase parental engagement in high-needs schools, cultivate a loyal user base, and acquire partners who share these priorities.

Marketing: Forge aligned partnerships

The College Board, the nonprofit that administers the SAT test, faced criticism that admissions tests favored students from wealthier families, who are able to pay for costly prep classes and materials. Given this criticism, the College Board was averse to forging partnerships with for-profits that would exacerbate the situation, despite years of persistent inquiries from test-prep leaders like Kaplan and Princeton Review.

Eventually, the College Board partnered with Khan Academy, the nonprofit committed to providing free, world-class education to anyone, anywhere. Together they launched Official SAT Practice, a set of free, personalized tools that allow any student to prepare for the SAT and college-level courses. Khan Academy’s nonprofit mission catalyzed the partnership. Today more than half of SAT test-takers in the United States, across income levels and backgrounds, use Official SAT Practice to prepare for the exam, giving Khan Academy access to students that might otherwise be hard to reach.

In conclusion, an organization must develop a solid foundation for its marketing strategy to ensure the team is guided in the correct direction and has a strong understanding of its target market needs. If the strategy is poorly developed, it doesn’t matter how innovative and dynamic the tactic is. The incorrect tactic will target the wrong audience, and result in underwhelming campaign performance and wasted resources.

A marketing strategy is a plan before an organization leverages its resources to convince a consumer to engage with them. In comparison, a marketing tactic can only be effectively implemented when the organization understands which audience to target, increase awareness, and generate demand.


This page contains material taken from:

Barenblat, K. (2018, August 09). What the Best Nonprofits Know About Strategy. Retrieved July 08, 2020, from

Boundless. (n.d.). Strategy. Retrieved from

Boundless. (n.d.). Push and Pull Strategies. Retrieved from

Boundless. (n.d.). Unique Issues in Nonprofit Marketing Strategies. Retrieved from

Boundless. (n.d.). Introduction to Integrated Marketing Communications. Retrieved from

Lumen Learning. (2016). Determining IMC Objectives and Approach. Retrieved from

Lumen Learning. (2016). Principles of Marketing. Retrieved from

Lumen Learning. (2016). Stages and Types of Strategy. Retrieved from


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An Open Guide to Integrated Marketing Communications (IMC) Copyright © by Andrea Niosi and KPU Marketing 4201 Class of Summer 2020 is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

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