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6 What Integrated Marketing Looks Like Now

I’ve been playing the marketing game for over twenty-five years and the term “integrated marketing” has been around at least that long.

confluence of streams

photo credit: ecstaticist via photopin cc

Years ago, however, the concept of integration applied mainly to consistency in branding elements and a unified message in advertising, public relations and sales promotion. With integration a customer or prospect could experience the brand in a similar way and this built a stronger brands – particularly if the advertising message were memorable enough. Think – “Where’s the Beef?” the Wendy’s ad hit.

But then online channels, social behavior and customer voice came along and fragmented even the best attempts at integration.

Suddenly brands had to deal with dozens of new channels and things such as mobile shoppers and consumers armed with the ability to talk back and publish information, images and reviews about brands.

Organizations that were used to tightly controlling their marketing had seemingly lost control and attempts to catch up by putting QR codes on billboards only made the fragmentation worse.

Oddly enough, while many things in marketing have changed, some never really have.

Brands that get integration right understand that it starts with a simple unified strategy that projects and protects a single-minded message and voice. This is something I’ve been calling Clarity.

Clarity goes beyond some of the traditional definitions of marketing strategy as it suggests that an organization understand the one thing above all that they want to be known as and they use that as the filter for everything they do.

In many cases this one thing has no direct correlation to the products and services that a company provides and often rests on things like purpose and community.

Once clarity of strategy is understood it’s simply amplified by making it part of the culture of the organization. Once that’s understood you can go to work on integrating all the moving parts that make up the ways that customers experience a brand.

When Clarity and Culture are tied together as strategy, integration expands to include not only consistent branding elements, advertising messages, sales promotion, public relations but things like human resources, strategic relationships, customer service, and product development.

What this view suggests is the fact that integrated marketing today means that marketing must be integrated into everything the business does.

The view of integration

Once Clarity and Culture are in place you can deliver a truly integrated experience by viewing the many channels a business must manage as the convergence of streams. Rather than simply creating a consistent look, feel and tone you come to view the power of merging channels in support of each other.

  • Your advertising builds on your content strategy to drive awareness
  • Your SEO and social media efforts support and drive list building and email marketing
  • Your PPC campaigns drive conversion testing as well as content creation
  • Your mobile outreach supports social channels and drives offline actions
  • Your email marketing supports your social media and advertising efforts
  • Your public relations supports SEO and content efforts
  • Your customer service leans on social channels and content creation
  • Your analytics allows you to see the impact of integration instead of simply measuring the last click

The point is that in today’s marketing world the real objective is community building and in that effort integration is an exercise in the power of the convergence of streams built on and amplified through a single-minded strategy rather than then simply an attempt at a consistent set of tag lines and colors.

topamazonI believe the message of integration, particularly as it relates to the many new online channels, is such an important one I’ve written a new digital book called The 7 Essential Stages of Building a Total Online Presence and made it available exclusively on Amazon.com

The book not only expands on the theme of integration it outlines the importance of building the stages of content, SEO, email marketing, social media, online advertising, mobile and location and analytics and conversion as one unified form of integrated marketing.

Each stage includes action plans, tools and links to dozens of resources. The digital book is currently on sale for $4.99. If anything about this message resonates you’ll want to spend the five bucks to add to your education and experience in this important area of business.

63 What the Heck is Integrated Marketing Anyway?

integrated marketingWhen I first started my business, several decades ago, I was determined to tell people that, mine was an integrated marketing firm. To which, I generally received polite nods and the occasional more truthful – “What the heck is integrated marketing anyway?”

Well, c’mon I would mutter, “everyone knows it’s a management strategy and meta-discipline focused on the organization-wide optimization of unique value for stakeholders[1].” Right, see the problem with the term was that I really didn’t know what it was and my prospects and clients certainly didn’t see it as a benefit, but hey, it sounded more important.

Seems that with the onslaught of buzz over social media, the integrated marketing model has reared it’s head again. So, I’d like to share with you my take on this thing called integrated marketing. Marketing folks are now using it to describe their ability to integrate tradition offline marketing with the new sexy social media plays.

Don’t get me wrong, integrated marketing is a good thing, as long as you understand its use.

First my definition: Integrated marketing is the combination of marketing tactics to help deliver one marketing strategy and more quickly build know, like and trust.

In this sense then an integrated marketing approach is not a strategy, it’s the tactical delivery of a marketing strategy. I think that distinction is critical, because without the right strategy no amount talk about integrating multiple platforms and mediums makes much sense. In fact, in may instances integration is simply interpreted as doing more kinds of stuff. The problem with more stuff is that stuff without a central strategy can actually cause one stuff to combat and conflict with some other stuff.

I absolutely believe the real integration opportunity, and way from most small business owners to blow their competition out of the water, is the intentional blending of online and offline tools and tactics around a single marketing strategy.

Let’s say you are an architect that learns what your clients really appreciate is your firm’s knack for getting deals through city hall, cutting through the red tape. While it make be tempting to focus on your pretty buildings, the real strategy opportunity may be in shouting from the top of city hall how you solve the red tape issues that stop buildings from being built and contractors from getting paid.

A marketing strategy around your red tape cutting, with an integrated tactical approach, might include:

  • A red tape icon of some sort as a branding element
  • A blog focused on municipal regulations and zoning requirements
  • A localized feasibility action plan workshop
  • A podcast series of interviews with key regulators and officials
  • Contractor and developer “navigating City Hall” lunch and learns
  • Networking opportunities with local officials
  • Newsletter following regulatory changes and decisions
  • A building feasibility service priced at $499
  • Encouraging an employee or two to sit on local planning committees
  • Advertising promoting your red tape seminars in print, Facebook, and direct mail

While none of the items mentioned above directly talk about selling architectural services, every single one of them works in tandem to do just that. An approach like the imagined one above would cement this firm as the go to firm for tough projects, land this firm on page one for any search terms surrounding design regulations, and take discussions about fees way down the list on many projects. The education of the prospect to the point they feel they would have little reason to look elsewhere for what they want is the true measure of an integration to drive home a marketing strategy.

1. Jenkinson, A. and Mathews, B. (2007) Integrated Marketing and its implications for personalized customer marketing strategies. J Direct, Data and Digital Marketing Practice. Vol 8 No. 3. pp. 93-209. Palgrave Macmillan, Basingstoke, UK

Image credit: CLTY