continued from Hammering out your 1999 communications strategy

knowledge of services -- how well your materials teach the audience the superiority or differentiating points of your brand; and

satisfaction -- the perceived quality of your offering and feelings about your brand.

Map out your plan
Creating a detailed Topic Matrix ensures that you touch on every product, service, public relations event and supporting value-added opportunity during the year.

For instance, if you publish a bimonthly newsletter and each issue contains an average of eight articles, you would have a total of 48 articles throughout the year.

But don't forget that within each article, you can have more than one marketing message. In fact, those 48 articles could contain as many as 100 messages. By laying out those messages in a matrix that shows which ones you'll cover in each issue, you can make sure that your program supports all of your key objectives.

Once you complete one topic matrix, add another dimension -- plan your messages across formats: newsletters, postcards, inserts, brochures, fax broadcasts, calendars, information cards and Web pages. By looking at your communications program as a whole, you can make sure your messages build on each other to create synergy.

Do the math -- a different way
Eventually, you know you'll have to present your marketing plan and budget for approval. Along with your traditional analysis, devote some space for showing the impact of your integrated plan.

One powerful approach: Compare the Cost Per Message (CPM) of single-message media (such as direct mail and statement inserts) to a newsletter-based program, which allows you to convey multiple messages in each issue. Even though the projects may cost the same in dollars, once you factor in readership levels and number of messages per mailing, your CPM might be 10 times higher for the single-message program. To match the newsletter's reach, you would need to either produce more pieces annually or increase the number of messages per insert or mailer.

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