From the January 2007 issue of Entrepreneur

Can you describe how media impacts your typical prospect during the course of a single day? Imagine that your prospect wakes up, reads the newspaper while having a cup of coffee, and listens to the radio in his car on the way to work. At the office, he checks e-mail and visits a variety of websites from his computer. He sees billboards and bus shelter advertising as he walks to a neighborhood lunch spot, and he reads a magazine while waiting for his food. He also listens to the radio on the drive home from work. Once home, he turns on the TV, flips to the news and goes through the day's mail. Later that evening, while watching his favorite sports team on TV, he goes online to search for a gift for a family member whose birthday is coming up.

Although it's a simplification of the typical consumer media experience, this example highlights many of the ways customers may be exposed to your message throughout the day. How can you ensure that your marketing will be a memorable part of their media experience? Create an integrated marketing campaign for 2007 using the media that affect your customers' decisions to buy what you market. Just look at some of the dramatic ways integrated marketing can ben-efit your business.

Top-of-mind awareness: Launching an integrated marketing campaign this year can mean the difference between creating seamless, memorable communication with your customers and getting lost in the din of the competing advertising messages they're exposed to. When you employ a central message in all media and sales channels, every contact a prospect has with your marketing reinforces that message and drives it home. Exposure in multiple forms of media can keep you top-of-mind. The key is to ensure that every encounter creates a consistent experience that reflects positively on your company, product or service.

Maximum media impact: A successful integrated marketing campaign capitalizes on the strengths of individual media. Look at the media your customers are exposed to that affect their decisions to buy what you market, and select a mix of the best forms. For example, web pages can carry deeper content and more complex communication than many media forms, while outdoor ads give a quick punch of information. Some media, such as direct mail, e-mail and article placements, will help you tell your full marketing story, while others, such as online or out-of-home ads, can generate leads and drive pros-pects to seek more information.

Keeping prospects engaged: As customers move through your sales cycle, they may be motivated by different marketing methods--cold prospects, for example, might respond to broadcast and print advertising, search marketing, and PR, while warmer ones respond better to direct mail, events and e-mail.

Entrepreneurs who use just one or two methods to reach customers often have difficulty keeping them engaged and lose sales to competitors who make consistent contact using a wide variety of media. By choosing an integrated media mix that meets the varying informational needs of cold, warm and hot prospects, you can maintain frequent contact without boring or annoying them.

Becoming part of daily life: An integrated marketing campaign can follow your prospects all day long, taking advantage of multiple touch points. In the earlier example, you saw how a typical prospect might be exposed to media throughout the day. If this were your customer, you could choose from his favorite newspaper, magazine, cable TV channel, radio station and website to create an integrated mix. By choosing just print, out-of-home and online marketing, you could be part of his life morning, noon and night. What better way to achieve success in the new year?