“Integrated marketing.” It sounds so easy.
I’ve been a champion of integrated marketing for years, since way before it was a popular, technology-driven topic. Even though the concept has been around for decades, many business owners still don’t really understand it.
When I work with clients to maximize their marketing results, integration is one of the first things we address.
We start by unpacking the concept, what it is and what it isn’t, and assess the current state using my Integrated Marketing Maturity model.
Promoting more than one thing at a time doesn’t mean you have an integrated marketing program. Most companies have more than one product line and multiple market segments. Creating campaigns for each and trying not to cannibalize one or another is a step in the right direction, but that’s not integration.
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Parallel programs are simply activities that run side by side, avoiding interference such as overlapping media pitches or confusing social media efforts. If your product managers and marketing communications teams are trying to stay out of each other’s way rather than working closely together, you’re probably running parallel programs.
When the marketing team members for various initiatives start to work together, they move toward concurrent and even coordinated communications. This can take form in a corporate communications calendar, carefully timed press releases, synchronized product launches, and so on.
Coordination is an important element of integration. It’s the first step, but on its own, it falls short of delivering the value a fully integrated marketing program provides. Concurrent communications represent the middle ground between co-existence of products and service lines and a cohesive, strategic approach to marketing.
Truly Integrated Marketing
The benefits of a truly integrated marketing program come when you move from a simplistic focus on timing and resources allocation to a more holistic view. On a grid, straight edges align easily. That’s why parallel programs and coordinated communications hold so much appeal. Lining up the pieces is really not hard to do.
Moving to integrated marketing requires more finesse. The amorphous shapes of the puzzle-pieces that represent your branding and positioning are harder to fit together, and the payoff for doing so is much more rewarding.
When you make every aspect of your programs work together, dovetailing messaging, campaign concepts, themes and visuals, you create a more compelling story for customers. Rather than seeing a confusing Rubik’s cube which they don’t have time to solve, you’re showing customers how what you offer fits together and addresses their needs.
While they may not buy everything you sell, customers who understand the whole of what you bring to market are much more inclined to share your story, offer referrals and think highly of your business. They “get” the brand, they can see where you’re going, and they know how they fit into to picture.
What’s the Difference?
How do you know where your business is on the Integrated Marketing Maturity scale?
Take this short quiz to see:
Rate your company on how we each of these statements represents your business. Use 1 for “Not at all” and 5 for “All of the time”
- We incorporate elements of our corporate brand positioning into our product or service messaging, making sure both are effectively represented in our marketing.
- Our marketing programs utilize a variety of channels to express a common theme or message, telling a cohesive story from many angles.
- When using different media (press releases, events, social media, advertising) we tailor our approach, considering the audience and the mindset of buyers interacting with this medium.
- We actively seek to leverage marketing across channels and between products, collaborating rather than simply coordinating.
- We look at ROI programmatically, assessing the overall return on marketing investments instead of solely focusing on a unique event, ad or promotion.
What’s your score?
10 or less: You’re still in the “Parallel Programs” stage. Look for ways to align your efforts, messaging and marketing channels for greater impact.
11 – 18 : Your “Coordinated Communications” offer moderate success, and further increasing your integration will have an exponential impact on results. Keep working.
19 or higher: Congratulations, you’ve achieved integrating marketing maturity! Turn your attention to testing and refining your efforts for continued success.
Photo by Maxime Perron Caissy on FreeImages.com.