Marketing buzzwords come and go, so it’s best not to get caught up in any particular flavor of the week. Some marketing concepts, though, have true staying power.
Integrated marketing is a concept that you’d do well to understand and embrace. Let’s take a look at what it means to integrate your company’s discrete marketing channels and whether it’s even optional in an increasingly competitive economy.
What Is Integrated Marketing?
Integrated marketing is a simple, powerful concept. According to Steve McKee of McKee Wallwork & Company, it requires the communication of “a consistent identity from message to message and medium to medium…and delivering consistently on that identity.” Helpfully, he also says that integrated marketing “is not for the faint of heart.”
Don’t be intimidated. In practice, integrated marketing simply asks that you recognize a clear, non-negotiable reality of the modern economy: To stand out from its competitors, your company needs a consistent, compelling message that reaches across all aspects of its marketing ecosystem and infuses its internal culture.
It’s just as much about buyin as it is about ad buys. The united face that your firm presents to its prospects – and the wider world – must mirror the messaging and expectations that govern the work of its employees.
Dwindling Attention Spans, Growing Savvy
Integrated marketing isn’t a brand-new concept, but macro-level forces have magnified the opportunity costs for companies that ignore it. In the “traditional” marketing space, once-dominant outbound marketing channels like TV commercials, radio spots and print ads have been undercut by DVRs, satellite radio and digital media. Online, rapidly multiplying volumes of Web content compete for finite numbers of users with limited time and attention to devote to marketing consumption. At the same time, consumers and decision-makers are ever more adept at recognizing and tuning out overtly salesy, poorly targeted or simply uninspired marketing messages.
Beyond the Tagline: Consistency Across Channels
How does your company break through this cacophony of competing, often ineffective signals? Here’s McKee again: “Everything you do to attract, convert, retain and engage your customers should be integrated.” This means moving beyond a catchy tagline that appears below your corporate logo and infusing your marketing content with a common look, feel and expression that speaks directly to your prospects within the constraints of each medium.
In other words, a prospect who watches one of your TV commercials on Tuesday and then catches a glimpse of one of your online display ads on Thursday should immediately make the mental connection between the two. If he signs up for your email marketing list, the promotions that he receives should be consistent with the branding to which he has become accustomed.
By giving him a clear picture of your firm’s unique selling propositions and internal culture before he ever comes into contact with your sales team or account managers, you’ll make him more comfortable with the idea of becoming a regular customer. You’ll also set your company up to exceed his expectations once he’s in the fold and turn him into an enthusiastic advocate in the process.
From Advertising to CRM: Making Good on the Promise of Integrated Marketing
While it’s true that your marketing campaign turns on its ability to attract promising leads that turn into regular customers, integrated marketing doesn’t end there. A truly successful plan requires you to extend the common themes that connect your disparate marketing channels to every facet of your company’s operations.
Your salespeople and account managers don’t have to look like the people in your TV spots or online ads, but it’s critical that they make good on the implicit or explicit promises made through these channels. Your entire team must be prepared and equipped to deliver on a consistent basis. Any changes to these deliverables must be communicated to existing clients via internal channels and to prospects via integrated marketing channels.
If the prospect of putting together a successful integrated marketing plan sounds like a serious undertaking, that’s because it is. Integrated marketing requires you to break down the walls that separate your outreach and branding operations from your business development, account management and strategic planning activities.
Its benefits, though, are too compelling to ignore. Integrated marketing might just be the “whole company” approach that your business needs to remain lean and competitive in an increasingly fragmented economy.