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Integrated Marketing: What It Is and Why You Should Embrace It


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Technology has expanded our ability to connect and interact with others to a degree unheard of even a decade ago. However, due to this continued expansion, the number of ways in which you connect and interact with your customer also continues to change, evolve and grow. While technological innovation may be good for business, from a marketing perspective it can often be confusing as more and newer technologies provide you with numerous additional ways in which to connect with your target audience.

This article will provide an overview and will attempt to explain what integrated marketing is and why the use of integrated marketing is more important now than ever before. This is not an in-depth treatise on the topic, but will provide you with a solid foundation on the topic of integrated marketing.

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Integrated Marketing: What It Is and Why You Should Embrace It

  1. 1. Integrated Marketing: What It Is and Why You Should Embrace It INTRODUCTION Technology has expanded our ability to connect and interact with others to a degree unheard of even a decade ago. However, due to this continued expansion, the number of ways in which you connect and interact with your customer also continues to change, evolve and grow. While technological innovation may be good for business, from a marketing perspective it can often be confusing as more and newer technologies provide you with numerous additional ways in which to connect with your target audience. This article will provide an overview and will attempt to explain what integrated marketing is and why the use of integrated marketing is more important now than ever before. This is not an in-depth treatise on the topic, but will provide you with a solid foundation on the topic of integrated marketing. WHAT IS 'INTEGRATED MARKETING' To begin, let's start with a simple definition of what 'integrated marketing' is considered to be. As a marketer, you are likely very familiar with using technology, so your first step in this process is to go online to research and find information about this topic. However, this is where your first roadblock pops up. As you begin to do your research you find that there is not a consistent definition of what 'integrated marketing' is. One definition defines 'integrated marketing' as a “Strategy aimed at unifying different marketing methods such as mass marketing, one-to-one marketing, and direct marketing. Its objective is to complement and reinforce the market impact of each method, and to employ the market data generated by these efforts in product development, pricing, distribution, customer service, etc.”1 Another defines 'integrated marketing' as “an approach to brand communications where the different modes work together to create a seamless experience for the customer and are presented with a similar tone and style that reinforces the brand’s core message. Its goal is to make all aspects of marketing communication such as advertising, sales promotion, public relations, direct marketing, personal selling, online communications and social media work together as a unified force, rather than permitting each to work in isolation, which in turn maximizes their cost effectiveness.”2 Yet a third defines 'integrated marketing' as “a type of marketing in which a company's sales people, advertising, website, etc. all give the same messages about its products: The consistency of the brand message is the key concept of integrated marketing.”3 What do all of these (and numerous other) definitions of integrated marketing have in common? To be truthful, not much. Yes, they all deal with marketing, but that is where the similarity ends. Beyond that common starting point, each definition of integrated marketing
  2. 2. takes a slightly different approach and focus, approaching the definition from different directions. Therein lies the problem. There is no consistent understanding or definition of what “integrated marketing” is, what it includes, what integrated marketing should measure and track, etc., which of course leads to confusion over what integrated marketing actually is. For the purposes of this article, I am defining 'integrated marketing' as follows: 'Integrated marketing is the disciplined process of choosing the appropriate marketing strategy, combined with the appropriate mix of tactics, methods, channels, media and activities that best support the desired end result of the defined marketing activity.' This definition is simple, straightforward and to the point. This definition also does what most other definitions do not; it acknowledges the uniqueness of each situation and recognizes that there is not one standard set of marketing features or tactics that are applicable to every situation. It does not take a 'peanut butter spread' or 'one size fits all' approach to marketing, but rather, it encourages the marketer to assess the situation and then choose those specific marketing components that will best support the desired end result. Simply put, integrated marketing is nothing more than a tool to use to help you get more out of your marketing. WHAT IS THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN INTEGRATED MARKETING AND IMC As you begin to look further into the topic of integrated marketing, you will likely come across a similar-sounding term, 'integrated marketing communication' or IMC. Although initially integrated marketing and IMC seem to be the same, in reality they are not. Let's delve just a bit deeper to see where the differences arise. As with integrated marketing, let's start with defining what the term 'integrated marketing communication' means. One definition states that IMC is “An approach to achieving the objectives of a marketing campaign, through a well coordinated use of different promotional methods that are intended to reinforce each other.”4 Another states that it is "A concept of marketing communications planning that recognizes the added value of a comprehensive plan that evaluates the strategic roles of a variety of communication disciplines-for example, general advertising, direct response, sales promotion, and public relations-and combines these disciplines to provide clarity, consistency, and maximum communications impact."5 And finally, a third definition of IMC states that it is "an approach to brand communications where the different modes work together to create a seamless experience for the customer and are presented with a similar tone and style that reinforces the brand’s core message. "6 As you can see, integrated marketing communication, in a manner similar to integrated marketing, is subject to a variety of definitions which may vary from author to author, from marketer to marketer and from use to use. That then begs the question, what is the difference between the two?
  3. 3. As previously defined, in its simplest form, integrated marketing is nothing more than making sure that you have all of the appropriate tools and resources in place to support the needs of your specific marketing activity. Integrated marketing communication on the other hand is primarily concerned with ensuring that the message is consistent across all of the marketing channels in use as part of your marketing activity. The goal of IMC is to make certain that all of the marketing communications and messaging that is developed work together to support each other and provide a unified message to the customer, rather than having each piece work separately. By doing so, this helps to reduce costs, enhance the cost effectiveness of the messaging content that was developed, reduce the fragmentation of the message and provide a consistent frame of reference for the customer, regardless of where/how they engage with you or your product. In short, IMC allows the marketer to take advantage of the synergies that will develop from a consistent message being delivered to the customer across all of the various media in use. An example of a company applying the integrated marketing communications philosophy is Guinness PLC's campaign, 'Guinness: It's Alive Inside'. Guinness, the well-known Irish beer maker, launched this campaign in the Fall of 2007. Instead of developing different advertisements and messages for the different media they planned to use, Guinness developed one core idea and extended this idea across all of the communications channels. That one core idea was 'It's Alive', which celebrated what beer drinkers love most about Guinness beer: its distinctive 'surge', a frothing, cascading effect that occurs in the head of the beer shortly after being poured and is visible in the beer glass before the head settles. “The brief to the agency was to develop a Guinness brand superidea, to re-establish the magic of Guinness for a new generation. Following a lengthy review period in which we sought to really understand the twentysomething mind-set, a number of insights emerged. Among them was the idea that twentysomethings feel a heightened excitement about life and all of its possibilities. They are bursting with life and ready to take full advantage of it. This energy is reflected in the Guinness product in the way it surges in the glass before eventually settling. The marriage of these two insights gave us our brand superidea – Guinness. It’s Alive Inside.”7 "'Alive Inside' captures the excitement of enjoying Guinness, from the incredible 'surge' effect to the robust taste that has been perfected since 1759," said Dan Kleinman, Guinness Director of Marketing, Diageo.8 This message was then extended to print, television, advertising, sponsorships (for hurling and rugby), promotion and several other channels to ensure that a consistent message was delivered to the marketplace. Created by IIBBDO Dublin, the ad and all the creative communicate a consistent brand message.9 Instead of developing separate messages, communications and marketing campaigns for each of the various media, Guinness chose to develop one primary message and then leverage that message by using it across all the various channels they had chosen to interact with their target demographic in, thereby saving time, money and resources. In an online article on (November 3, 2011, What Schoolhouse Rock and Integration Have In Common), Steve Olenski put it this way: “... and do drive home my point which is more and more consumers want an integrated message. They want to see the same
  4. 4. basic message be it via an offline medium or online or mobile and tablet. It’s really not that hard to do yet so many companies big and small can’t seem to do it.”10 IMC is focused on ensuring that the message is consistent across all marketing channels, while integrated marketing is focused on ensuring that in addition to the message being consistent across channel, all other aspects of the marketing are appropriately chosen and structured so that they will support the overall goals of the marketing activity. For the marketer who wants to ensure the success of a marketing activity, IMC should always be a component of the integrated marketing campaign. WHY USE INTEGRATED MARKETING Now that you have a basic understanding of what integrated marketing is, you need to understand why you should use it. First, let's discuss the fundamental purpose of marketing. In its simplest, most basic form, marketing is about providing someone with enough information so that it will cause them to make a purchase decision. Whether that is done through providing data or information, providing an incentive of some sort, comparing one product to another, emotional manipulation, or some combination of all of those tactics, marketing is about helping to move the target audience along the purchase path. Deciding exactly how you will accomplish that is a function not just of data and analysis, but also of knowing and understanding your target audience: what drives them, what motivates them, what excites them. Wouldn't you like to make your marketing more effective and reach more of your target audience? Be able to interact with your target audience more easily? Help increase their access to information so that they would move along the purchase path faster? If you could do those things, wouldn't that increase the effectiveness of your marketing? If so, then that is why you need to understand integrated marketing. Integrated marketing is often referred to as the underlying strategic component of the marketing planning process. This means that in addition to the basics of creating and developing the marketing activity (the 'who, what, when, where, how'), you need to take those actions one step further to determine how they will work together to support the overall campaign. By doing this, you are taking your marketing to the next level and putting in place the necessary infrastructure to build upon, thereby helping to ensure the overall success of your marketing activity. Integrated marketing not only helps you to optimize your overall marketing activity, but also helps enhance its effectiveness. Integrated marketing provides you with the flexibility that a more 'traditional' marketing approach does not in that it offers you the opportunity to do more than might otherwise be expected. It allows you to determine exactly what should and should not be included in the marketing mix for any given situation. Integrated marketing allows you to not only develop your own strategy and tactics and choose what will be included in that mix, it requires you to take a more active role in the marketing mix development process. No longer will your marketing be dull and boring. No longer will you pull the marketing playbook from the shelf and select 'one marketing activity from column A, one from column B,
  5. 5. one from column C', etc. to create the marketing campaign. Instead, you must actively take the time to determine your goal(s), evaluate the different options and then determine what will work most effectively for your specific situation. As with any other marketing activity though, the devil is in the details and the full marketing planning process must still be completed. This level of detailed planning is a time consuming process that will now require this additional analysis to be performed at the beginning of the development process. However, the payoff for this level of due diligence will be recognized when the marketing delivers the desired results. All of the items that are taken into consideration when developing any marketing activity must still be reviewed and evaluated. Then in addition to all of those steps, you must now also consider and evaluate items such as:  Which marketing channel(s) will you use  How will the various marketing channels that you have chosen work together  How will the marketing message be leveraged and stay consistent across those channels  How will your value proposition be conveyed  How will you engage with your target demographic at the various touch points  How will you drive traffic from one type of media to another  How will you drive traffic from one location to another  How will you capture demographic (or other) information from your target audience  How will you integrate and leverage your AR/PR activities  How will you integrate demand generation activities  Will you use SEO, SEM or both  Which social media platforms will you choose  When/where/how will you use those social media platforms to interact with your target audience  What are you providing to your audience (incentives, promotions, information, etc.) and in what type of format(s)  What your time frame will be to respond to real-time questions, feedback, requests for information, etc. that come from social media channels  How to respond to potential problems By considering questions such as the above, you now begin to evaluate how these aspects of your marketing activity will work together and to what purpose. In other words, you must now take control. This approach puts you, the marketer, back in charge and gives you back some of the creative control that many B2B marketers have lost today. HOW TO USE INTEGRATED MARKETING Integrated marketing requires a mind-shift that in some ways takes you back to the earlier days of marketing, when every activity was not quite as data-driven as it is today. Rather than just studying demographic profiles and making a decision based on the data contained therein, integrated marketing requires a more hands-on approach, as you must first truly understand your target audience and what your objective is with your marketing. This will then enable you to effectively choose what type of marketing tactic will work, which channel(s) you should use to most effectively position your marketing message and reach your audience,
  6. 6. what tactic(s) will be most effective, etc. In other words, integrated marketing requires careful consideration and evaluation of all the factors affecting which medium you will choose. Integrated marketing ensures that all marketing channels, media and activities that are related to a specific marketing campaign will support and contribute to that campaign. How? Through what I call 'marketing cross-pollination' (MCP). MCP ensures that all of the marketing channels you have chosen for your specific marketing activity will support and refer to each other, thereby increasing your reach, efficiency and effectiveness. How does integrated marketing do this? Simple. You now have to define exactly what each marketing channel being utilized is going to be used for (exposure, reach, influence, information, interaction, data gathering, etc.) and then define how each of those channels will also support the other channels. How is this done? Here are a few examples to give you an idea of how integrated marketing comes together:      Are you using a social media site to hold a contest? Great. Tie it to a request for additional information that leads the prospect to provide you with demographic information while giving them additional points towards winning the contest and giving them a chance to provide feedback as an early adopter. Have a link to your corporate website where other free downloads are available. Do you have a corporate website where a white paper or case study can be downloaded? Perfect, insert a frame on that page that will display your YouTube video commercial which also tells them how they can join an online discussion about the product or ask questions of industry experts in an online forum. Did you place an advertisement in a leading subscription publication? Embed a QR code on the page that, when scanned with a smart phone, will take the person to whom the publication was sent to a PURL (personalized URL) where they will automatically be entered into a contest and also includes links to your YouTube video and other free downloadable resources. On your YouTube site, have a Call To Action (CTA) at the end of your video that invites the viewer to click on an embedded link that will take them to a landing page where they can get more information on your product, download resources and enter the contest. Provide a link where a potential user of your product can download a fully functional demo after providing their contact information. Once the download starts, have another CTA that offers them additional resources (white papers, case studies, best practices, etc.) that can be downloaded from your corporate website, have your YouTube video embedded on that landing page and include links to your social media sites. As you can see, all of the above marketing scenarios are no longer single, stand-alone activities, but rather, are linked to and support other marketing actions that provide more interaction with and more information, entertainment, or value to the prospect. This is the MCP process in action.
  7. 7. When a prospect goes to one location or activity they are either exposed to other marketing activities from within that same location, or are invited to interact or engage further in some manner. Through this type of integrated marketing, your target audience now has the opportunity to be exposed to or interact with your product or service numerous times. In each location, whether it is online or offline, they are continuously exposed to additional opportunities to experience your product or service, while continuing to be exposed to the underlying consistent messaging that has been developed for this marketing activity. Not only does your marketing now provide more opportunities to engage and interact with your target audience at every customer touch point, but you have now drastically increased the efficiency and effectiveness of your marketing. A good example of integrated marketing is HP's 'The Computer Is Personal Again' campaign11,12, which debuted in May 2006. Created by HP's agency Goodby, Silverstein & Partners (GSP), this global campaign focused on the highly individual, highly unique and personal relationship that people have with their computers. The GSP campaign also changed the focus from mainly discussing the technology inside the computers (i.e., 'feeds and speeds') to more focus on how the computers help to empower users. This switch from a 'product superiority' to 'experience superiority' perspective was done to help focus more on the user experience and to enhance HP's brand. As Mike Winkler (HP Chief Marketing Officer) explained, "what we wanted to do was address the emotional connections that customer had to the brand. HP wasn't loved".13 A graphic logo of two hands overlaid was developed for use as a unifying element across all of the various properties chosen for this campaign, which helped to reinforce the theme. From each point of contact potential customers were able to find out information about the computers as well as read stories on how other people used them. The campaign was launched online, on websites such as MySpace, MTV, MSN and people were encouraged to write blogs, play games, give feedback and reviews, tag videos, etc., all contributing to building the buzz around the campaign. HP even created a Facebook page that is still in use today, where they could interact with people, post comments and feedback, participate in contests, etc. Thanks in part to this integrated marketing approach, HP beat Dell in PC sales in the second half of 2006, as well as in 2007. 'The Computer is Personal Again' campaign helped the HP brand gain 9 percent in brand value, (measured by Interbrand), in 2007 (compared to the previous year) and 18 percent since 2005, compared to a drop of 10 percent from 2004 to 2005. According to Roger L. Kay, president of consultancy Endpoint Technologies Associates, "It's been a very effective campaign. It's been good at drawing attention to HP's products."14 Although you will find this example often referred to as an example of IMC, due to the consistency of messaging and logo across all of the channels in use, as well as the interaction between and support of the various customer touch points, I consider this campaign to actually be an early example of integrated marketing, albeit one that does incorporate IMC as well.
  8. 8. WHAT TO INCLUDE IN INTEGRATED MARKETING While this sounds complicated, this is actually the easiest question to answer, at least from a marketing perspective. The answer is, 'Use what works'. While this sounds too simple to be helpful, in reality this is the only answer that you need. As defined previously, integrated marketing is the process of choosing the appropriate strategy and tactics for a given situation. Just as a carpenter brings the same set of tools to each work site and then chooses which specific ones that he needs for the job at hand, as a professional marketer you have a similar choice to make. Every marketing scenario and situation is different and every one will require a different strategy, a different set of tactics, a different set of channels to be used to accomplish your specified goals. Because of this, there is no single approach to integrated marketing. Your 'tools of the trade' may be the same, but the way in which you will use and combine them will vary from job to job, in the same manner as the carpenter. Remember, integrated marketing allows you to simplify what could otherwise be an overwhelming, daunting process by helping you to realize that what is important is not the number of marketing actions and activities that take place, but determining which are the most appropriate and effective ones to achieve what you need to accomplish. With the appropriate mix of media, channels, etc., you will maximize the impact and consistency of your marketing. When using integrated marketing, in addition to choosing the appropriate marketing strategy and mix, keep the concept of simplicity in mind as well. Choosing appropriately helps you to eliminate other, less optimal tactics, channels, media, etc., helping to reduce the required components to the least required to deliver the desired end results. The KISS rule15 should always apply, as more does not always equal better. As world-renowned architect Ludwig Mies van der Rohe said “Less is more”16 (when referring to restraint and simplicity in architectural design). The same holds true for integrated marketing. Remember, integrated marketing is about results, not about how many different components can be combined to support one marketing activity. One final comment. There is a thin line between integrated marketing and IMC, as well as areas of commonality, but to be successful and effective, you need to incorporate both IM and IMC into your marketing activities. HOW DO I KNOW IF MY INTEGRATED MARKETING HAS WORKED Actually, this is not the question that you need to ask, as integrated marketing is not going to guarantee that your marketing activity will be successful. Unfortunately there are no guarantees of this sort in the business world. Integrated marketing is simply a way to help you ensure that what you include in your marketing mix is the appropriate marketing strategy, combined with the appropriate mix of tactics, methods, channels, media and activities that best support the desired end result of the defined marketing activity. If you have done that, then you have optimized your possibility of success, the results of which will then be evaluated in the same manner as any other marketing activity.
  9. 9. At the end of your marketing activity's specified time frame there are some basic metrics that have to be evaluated and analyzed, such as:       What is the ROI for the marketing activity? Did that ROI meet or exceed the predefined ROI goal(s)? Did you determine the right metrics to track? Did those metrics/statistics meet your goals? Did you go over budget? Did you accomplish what you needed to within the specified time frame? If, upon completion of the analysis of the results, the marketing strategy, tactics, methods, channels, media, etc. that you have chosen have delivered the desired result(s), regardless of what those results are, then your integrated marketing process has worked and you have successfully used integrated marketing. As a marketer you have chosen the proper mix to create a program that delivered results. One cautionary note: at this point you may want to benchmark this process that you have just completed and create a template for future use to help ensure future success. However, remember that as defined earlier, integrated marketing is about selecting the appropriate strategy, tactics, methods, etc. that best support the desired end result. It is not about standardizing the process flow to duplicate time and again. Each marketing activity is unique and each requires the same level of analysis and attention to detail to develop a specific marketing strategy. The general framework or structure may be similar, but the specifics will not be. INTEGRATED MARKETING AND PERCEPTION OF MESSAGES From the end-user or target audience point of view, integrated marketing makes it easier to become familiar with a company and their goods, products, or services. Consistent communications and messaging, coupled with information and interaction, reinforced across different marketing channels tends to strengthen and reinforce the credibility and believability factor, rather than fragment it, making it easier for the consumer (whether B2C or B2B) to proceed down the purchase path. Regardless of how the marketing is delivered (whether online, in print, broadcast, etc.) and whether the target audience interacts with it in person, via a tablet, cellphone, laptop or any other manner is now less critical, as the branding, the messaging and the interaction continuously supports and reinforces itself, regardless or channel or medium. Depending on which study you read or which resource you choose to believe, you will find that consumers are exposed to (or bombarded by, depending on your point of view) on a daily basis anywhere from several hundred to several thousand advertising messages,17 in a wide variety of formats, Regardless of what the actual number is, suffice it to say that it is a large amount of data in one form or another that is daily being presented to each of us. Yet when asked, most people will only recall a small fraction of those messages. Why? Because humans have an internal perceptual filter that helps to regulate “background noise” (all of those marketing campaigns, advertisements, commercials, etc.) that is not relevant to them or their life at that particular moment in time.18
  10. 10. In other words, if your advertising, commercial or marketing message is not relevant to your target audience at the moment that they are exposed to it or interact with it, it may be seen but it likely will not be remembered or acted upon. All of the time, money and resources that you have spent developing and placing that marketing may not be worth a single cent if your target audience does not register it in their consciousness. Integrated marketing helps to reinforce that marketing message by ensuring that regardless of when/where/how the consumer is exposed to your marketing, every aspect is consistent with and supports what they have already seen or interacted with in other formats and/or mediums, helping to more deeply ingrain that message into their consciousness. Marketing is about influence, about providing information on your goods, products or services to your target audience, and about helping your target audience make informed decisions when choosing between competing goods/products/services. As such, to maximize the investment that has been made, and thereby increase the potential ROI, you need to utilize every tool at your disposal to ensure that not only is the message delivered, but that it is also registered and acted upon by your target audience. Regardless of format, channel or medium, integrated marketing will help ensure the consistency and integration of your message and activities across all channels your target audience may encounter. SUMMARY In summary, integrated marketing is an approach to developing marketing activities that allows you to become much more involved and in control of the entire marketing development, delivery and execution process. Integrated marketing provides you with the process to choose the appropriate marketing strategy, along with the control over determining which specific marketing activities, tactics, strategies, channels, etc. are the most appropriate and relevant to achieve your desired end results. 'Integrated marketing is the disciplined process of choosing the appropriate marketing strategy, combined with the appropriate mix of tactics, methods, channels, media and activities that best support the desired end result of the defined marketing activity.' Congratulations! You are now more familiar with the concept and use of integrated marketing and will be able to incorporate this into all of your future marketing activities. © Richard Hatheway – 2013
  11. 11. BIBLIOGRAPHY 1 –, 2 –, 3 – Cambridge Dictionaries Online, 4 –, 5 – George E. Belch & Michael A. Belch, Advertising and Promotion: An Integrated Marketing Communications Perspective, 2006 Print 6 –, 7 – WND, 8 – Irish International, 9 – 10 – Forbes,