Mini-MBA: Brand Development & Marketing Communications Curriculum

Building Your Brand

You believe in brand development and marketing communications and want to see it succeed in your organization. How can you apply the lessons and insights from this program to your own business scenario in order to bring your company's brand to life?

During this session, we'll discuss the fundamentals for building an effective brand and how to solve for gaps in your brand’s ability to create effective communication programs at your organization. Additionally, we’ll identify the steps needed to unify the appropriate marketing communications tools to send the consumer a consistent, persuasive message that helps meet the communications goal of driving brand salience.

Key Takeaways:

  • How to turn a product or service into a brand
  • Understanding your brand's core value/identity
  • The 10 challenges that inhibit integrated marketing communications (IMC) results
  • A 7-step "FOCUSED" model for delivering successful integrated marketing communications

The IMC Imperative

In this digital age, various media types have burst onto the scene to provide more cost-effective and targeted methods to engage with audiences. Efficient and effective delivery of consistent and powerful brand messages requires inter-organization and cross-platform alignment. This session will establish why integrated communications should not be considered an option, but an imperative.

Through thought-provoking discussion and case study examples, participants will gain an understanding of why IMC is still relevant and critical to future success.

Key Takeaways:

  • How the changing media landscape is impacting marketing
  • Strategic platforms and aligning the marketing mix
  • Why no channel or department lives in a silo
  • Business planning and organizational structure implications
  • The importance and the necessity for having an integrated marketing communications plan
  • Tying marketing strategy to business objectives vis-à-vis the marketing brief

Consumer Research and Insights

As business professionals seek to gather consumer insight and market intelligence within an aggressive digital environment, the critical challenge becomes how to balance traditional metrics with contemporary analytics and external forces.

Quantitative research [QT] asks the questions and qualitative research [QL] questions the answers. Good business decisions need both types of metrics and an increased focus on motivations of the consumer to determine not only the value of products, ideas, and services, but also which factors pull consumers toward – or push them away from – media, social media, products, ideas, and services.

Key Takeaways:

  • Understand who the stakeholders are; what other “data” they are really looking for
  • Critical decision-making should START with a great brief
  • Research has a foundational structure
  • Qualitative and quantitative research should go hand in hand (One asks questions, and one questions answers)
  • Types of QT and QL research methods, and when to apply which  
  • Everything that counts cannot be measured
  • Technology and new techniques are expanding into models to drive innovation and meaningful propositions

Media Strategy and Investment: Activating Content (Advertising) Distribution

How can you ensure you’re developing the optimal strategy for distributing your brand’s message? This module will provide you with the information necessary to develop SMART media strategies and tactics that drive the highest return on investment (ROI) so that you can feel confident that your media executions are based on a solid foundation.

We will begin by identifying the macro and micro economic factors and their relevance to media planning and buying. Then we will explore the compelling marketing science approach to media communications strategies. We will cover the six strategic elements all media plans should include and also define key terms used in establishing strategies and negotiating media investments. Finally, we’ll look at the latest methods of defining media target segments, identifying insights, and activating a media buy.

Key Takeaways:

  • A marketing science approach to media strategy ties business results to media decisions, and vice versa
  • How to structure media strategies, plans, and buys to deliver not just media goals, but also the overall marketing goals of the product or service being advertised  
  • Approach media investment as a journey of test, learn, and scale success
  • Become more informed and confident in influencing your company’s decisions around committing to media spending

Marketing in a Digital Age

The fast-paced world of marketing changes on a continuous basis, and with such a high rate of innovation, it can be challenging to keep up with all of the latest tools, tactics, and technologies, as well as to separate the necessary from the "noise."

From storytelling to neuromarketing, artificial intelligence (AI), customer journey mapping and beyond, we'll dissect the most important marketing trends and how to strategically apply them to your integrated marketing plans.

Key Takeaways:  

  • The differentiating factor of being consumer-centric
  • Why storytelling is the rule, not the exception
  • New approaches to getting to know your consumer

Influential & Immersive Forces

This module provides an overview of key digital methodologies and related tactics which foster relevant engagement on a person-to-person level. The effectiveness of some of these approaches may not have been easy to quantify in the past, but they have evolved into sophisticated tools that drive both meaningful and measurable results.

Key Takeaways:  

  • Public Relations: How this discipline has been reshaped for a digitally-driven society
  • Influencer Marketing: Its evolution and rise from product endorsements, and the related social responsibility implications
  • Event Marketing: Turning consumers’ needs for human, in-person experiences into measurable and scalable results
  • Search Marketing: How individuals search and find information about brands, and the specific, tactical opportunities for relevant communication

The Role of Social Media in Marketing and Branding

One way of thinking about marketing is about connecting your company to people, and branding is how you represent your company in public to help build that connection.

If social media represents society at large, you can only imagine how critical a role it plays in a company’s marketing and branding. This module will explore this vital role that social media plays in more depth.

Key Takeaways:

  • Understanding social media's potential in one's marketing organization
  • Identifying the different ways social media can be used for marketing and branding, including core marketing functions as well as social listening, customer and product research, customer service, and more
  • Applying a framework to amplify effective use and development of social media

Global & Diversity Marketing

With the array of options through which to target and engage prospective consumers, marketers recognize that it’s no longer possible to speak to all prospects in the same way –a concept that is particularly critical in a multicultural, global marketplace; plus, heap on a heavy dose of a heightened sensitivity to Inclusion, Equity and Diversity.

How can you engage your diverse audiences in a relevant manner, both domestically and internationally? This module of the program will focus on the foundation to plan and execute smart marketing communications in a way that supports the often-cited phrase, “Think global, act local”, and it will provide guidelines to consider putting a plan in place.

Key Takeaways:

  • Global & Diversity Marketing is complicated; Marketing is complicated: Be clear on your strategy; The Global and U.S. landscapes are rapidly changing; Pay attention to economic and political drivers and policies; Understand your business, understand your consumers/customers, connect with relevant and compelling messages/channels; Be prepared to keep evolving
  • Critical to understand culture: Data collection and analysis have limitations
  • Diversity & Inclusion: Considerations for successful IMC planning and execution have expanded; external stakeholder interests, recruitment and employee retention are now key; Do the analysis, and keep doing it; Develop a meaningful brief; Look for universal drivers of choice; Examine what can be localized and what aspects must be globally controlled; Don’t underestimate the time, cost, and importance of proper localizing & translating; Establish a governance structure; It’s complicated; keep it simple.

Alignment for Success

IMC requires ICP; that is, Integrated Marketing Communications requires Integrated Communications Partners/Agencies. It is NOT only about integrating multiple marketing and media platforms into your marketing strategy. Importantly, it is also about integrating the various teams who are creating and sharing brand messages across this multitude of platforms and channels. Unifying and aligning the thinking and output of internal departments (such as promotions, sales, and customer service) as well as external partners (for example, agencies and digital companies) is critical to maximizing IMC results.

Marketers must drive collaborative planning and empower partners to deliver their best results through accountable and measurable behavior. This module will focus on collaboration within and across communications companies. We will explore case studies and ask you to consider the best approach(es) for your current “work” situation. We will also discuss various internal stakeholders and how best to consider their views to drive inclusive decision-making with the goal of maximizing agency performance and business results.

Key Takeaways:

  • Understand the different methods of organizing, and ways of working with, external marketing and advertising resource teams  
  • Aligning both internal and external priorities, which is critical to IMC success
  • Manage expectations for all partners in the face of competing priorities, agendas, and cross-organizational politics
  • Best practices for selecting and working with advertising agencies to drive positive engagement and collaborative behaviors
  • Ways to ensure that partnerships remain healthy, productive, and strong

Final Thoughts on Branding

In this final module of the program, we will return to where it all began and reexamine the core components of branding - now with a fresh perspective after reviewing the subsequent sections of the course.

Apart from serving as a journey back for review purposes, the goal of this session is to help you synthesize your learning into a series of action items that you can bring back to your organizations.

Program Overview

For an overview of our Mini-MBA: Brand Development & Marketing Communications program plus program benefits and outcomes, please click here.