What the Heck is Integrated Marketing Anyway?

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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


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