It’s inevitable. Every few years, one of the higher-ups will run across a concept or a book that spans over 300 pages reiterating a single concept that promises to “disrupt the industry!” (“Disruption” is another blog post entirely; don’t get me started.) Those who were late to the internet or social media game often crow the loudest, terrified that they’re missing out on yet another trend like personas, QR codes, social media channels or other alleged cheese-moving activities that their peers are using to rake in piles of money.
“Integrated marketing” is one of those terms.
The Direct Marketing Association defines integrated marketing as “an approach to creating a unified and seamless experience for consumers to interact with the brand/enterprise; it attempts to meld all aspects of marketing communications, such as advertising, sales promotion, public relations, direct marketing and social media, through their respective mix of tactics, methods, channels, media and activities, so that all work together as a unified force.”
Here at Envoy, we call it “the way you should have been marketing all along.” Like most allegedly revolutionary concepts, integrated marketing is really just common sense. You’re competing with hundreds of companies every day for mind share among your audience, so you need to be on-point and on-brand at all times. Making sure that your promotions reference and complement each other allows you to work more efficiently while simultaneously boosting name recall and brand recognition.
What Does That Mean and Why Is It Such a Big Deal?
Unlike a lot of these trends, integrated marketing works. Really well. Not just now, not just for this quarter, but all the time. Once it’s ingrained into your plans and programs you’ll wonder why you haven’t been doing it for years.
Here are three reasons why integrated marketing is such a great idea:
1. Consistency aids in recall. We’ve all heard the maxim that the audience needs to hear/see a message at least five times before it sinks in and they’re able to remember the company or product they’ve been hearing about. That could mean seeing the same TV commercial five times, or it could be an online banner ad, PPC ad, radio commercial and in-store signage. Each of the latter is one tactic, but now the prospect has been exposed to your ad five times, in five different situations. It gives your brand a feeling of omnipresence, which can have a significant influence on brand recall, ensuring that your brand or product is top of mind when the consumer is ready to take action.
If your message was consistent in terms of tone, feel and look across all channels, great! You can come on over and hang with us in the clubhouse. If not, that’s OK. But those were five opportunities to tell consumers why your ice cream/dog socks/travel website is the best thing out there. There’s a much better chance they’ll remember you the next time they need ice cream, dog socks or a travel website if those messages were consistent and reminded them why yours is so great.
This does not mean it’s the exact same ad every time. Each channel has its quirks. Billboards and Tweets limit your character count. Display ads can include animation (but not too much — don’t be that guy/gal) and take visitors to a landing page for additional information. A blog post can expand on a few key features of your new product or show it in action. A LinkedIn post or article can tell the story behind your product development. Used together, these efforts pack a much bigger punch when the messages work in concert and are consistent in tone and messaging.
2. Integrated marketing softens the market. The whole point of advertising is to engage with your audience and encourage them to take action. When a prospect is familiar with a brand and/or its products, then your sales team can spend more time closing and less time educating prospects about your company and its products or services.
From a B2C standpoint, brand recognition is even more important because there usually isn’t a human there to answer questions at the point of sale. Integrated marketing sparks recognition and can have a profound effect on sales.
3. Integrated marketing boosts efficiency. Integrated marketing enables your marketing communications, branding, digital and PR teams to work at light speed. Instead of starting from scratch and often creating content that’s off-brand and disparate in terms of tone or messaging, an integrated approach ensures that all involved parties are on the same page and hitting the same notes in their work.
Not only does this help from a brand standpoint, but it also allows your teams to create the requisite complementary materials at a much faster, and therefore more efficient, pace. In an era when most in-house teams are already stretched to their limits, integrated marketing can make a significant difference in workload.
Yeah, Yeah, Yeah
Like all of these hot terms, it sounds great on paper, but what does integrated marketing look like in the real world? We’ve all been to conferences where some marketing exec boasts about how their campaign to launch a new airplane, soda or shoe brand blew everyone’s mind, sent sales skyrocketing, and only cost a couple million to execute. It’s been such a success that other companies are copying it and consumers are getting tattoos.
That’s cute. But what if you’re a team of three with an annual marketing budget that’s less than the cost of most new cars?
It’s still the same premise. Let’s say you’re in the ice cream business and you’ve come up with a new treat — ice cream cake on a stick. It’s amazing. Life-changing. Even people who are lactose-intolerant kiss you on the street and thank you profusely for your gift to the world. How can you use integrated marketing to get the word out?
You start by creating a one-pager that highlights key features and benefits of your product. Get some great images of the product itself as well as the packaging. Using that, you can take key elements and messaging and use them in several ways:
- Draft a press release to send to trade media
- Create a sales sheet for retailers
- Create a coupon
- Create signs for in-store tastings, where you’ll hand out coupons
- Create and send emails to fans who route them to landing pages with coupons
- Create digital ads and landing pages with coupons
- Write a blog post with the story behind its creation, and include product photos
- Use social media to announce the rollout, sending consumers to your landing page for more information and coupons
See? Once you’ve got the basics down, much of your ancillary materials will practically write themselves. While not every channel will work every time (posts about free coupons might not go over so well on LinkedIn), you’ll have plenty of ammunition for the relevant outlets.