It has its own acronym. There’s a Twitter chat about it. The renowned Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern University has an academic concentration in it. There are many people who believe it’s the top of the heap for communication strategy. What is it? It’s Integrated Marketing Communications.
So, what do you think we have here?
How about this? We’re in the same place, at the same time, sharing a similar experience. Are we integrated?
Note that Marketing is based on Exchange Theory – the customer pays for something you have. That doesn’t begin to describe some of the other relationships we have with our stakeholders.Now, note how robust this last definition is – so here’s the question:What does it mean to be integrated?
This is like many organizations. We know what the objectives are, pushed through our respective areas of focus. But each of these departments is pursuing those objectives in its own fashion. That’s not necessarily bad! But the issue becomes repetition, wasted energy, and many times, a confused and frustrated customer. If I’m a Goodyear Tire dealer in 1995, I might have 4-5 salespeople calling on me, because I carry 4-5 Goodyear Tire brands. . . And meanwhile, ads are saying one thing, Media is saying something else, and the employees and sales people are telling me something else.At the height of the financial crisis, could a bank continue with this type of construction?
On the other hand, there are people who just don’t believe in it. If integration is such a fine idea, why doesn’t it happen more often? There are three reasons it doesn’t happen.
One problem is CONTROL. People like to control stuff, and they want to set the agenda. Integration can’t possibly mean anything but a loss of control, right? That’s BAAAAAD!There are fiefdoms in organizations, little empires ruled as though they’re separate companies, and that means strong lines of accountability and responsibility. Unfortunately, that also makes people jealous of their power and control – I’ve heard leaders say, “well, if I’m going to be accountable for that, I need to own the resource, budget and everything.”
Another reason Integration doesn’t happen is inertia – you know, the principle of physics that says a body at rest will remain at rest until acted upon by some sort of external force?For a lot of people, the status quo is just fine, thankyouverymuch, and we don’t need any of that leapintothegreatunknown than change will bring us!
A third reason integration doesn’t work comes from the world of Economics. Externalities. Unintended consequences. One problem with a car-dominated transportation system is disposal of tires – it costs someone to get rid of them, thus creating an incentive to dump them somewhere. Integration could lead to problems we cannot foresee – what are some issues you might see?
So, what can we do? If integration is a good thing, and we’ve decided that it is, right? How do we get there? And why should the communications people take an interest in it?
We are the green box in the center, surrounding the objectives.As communicators, we have the best perspective of any staff department. We’re not wedded to any one view – we can act as a catalyst to be sure we’re all working together. Is it easy, no. Is it a competitive advantage, YES. Integration is more than getting people on the same page, and it’s more than simply unifying command over similar functions. It’s efficient, it’s consistent and done right, it’s strategic. How we can help improve our organization is by applying the 3 “C’s”
The first step is to open the lines of communication – that means reaching out (if you haven’t already) to meet with our counterparts. There may be suspicion! But don’t be dissuaded. It might take time to make things happen, but that’s what it takes. Also, be sure you’re sharing first – telling people what you’re doing, what your plans are, what your strategy is, how you’re measuring success and what you’re willing to help them with. It makes you into a problem-solver, not a threat.
What’s this? Why is it important?I love this as a symbol for coordination, because the idea is that we observe some simple rules in order that each of us realizes his or her objective. We don’t interfere with each other – we may wait a little bit – and generally, there is very little cost associated with a traffic light! Coordination in our context is pretty much the same – we make sure not to get in each other’s way and wait our turn. What’s an example of coordination in your world? Coordination cannot happen without good, open communication. That’s why the path to integration has to start with communicating. Coordination takes it another step farther. When we coordinate, we’re willing to set aside our tactics if someone else’s would be a better fit, to let them take the lead, to build on what someone else is doing. If your purchasing department has written a set of policies for their own employees on ethical practice, for example, you could coordinate your policy with theirs – build on their work and give them credit for being first past the post. (cite UK study on U-30 buyers using social tools)Your marketing and PR departments should share strategies and tactics so that you can build on each other’s work…
At the risk of being cliché, this is the essence of collaboration, which is the third “C” and the final step you take before integration. Collaboration is working together toward a common goal, each with his or her own task and responsibility. No one is dictating to anyone else, they’re just aware of the objective and doing their part. A good example is how, at National City, our head of marketing brought the PR department into meetings about the Real Stories campaign.The trick is to give up the idea of being in charge, of bending others to your will, and taking full advantage of everyone’s capabilities. After all, it’s about the objectives, right?
You remember this graphic from earlier – we in communications can facilitate the process of improving the organization. But note there are more than just two boxes on this chart – If we think about the 3 “C’s” once again…
Communication team can be the catalyst to make communication more effective and valuable. No turf wars (issue is overcome by using these three Cs), comms strategy better, perception of value higher.
Yes, but is it true integration? http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/9/9f/Reduction_Gear.jpg/733px-Reduction_Gear.jpg
CommunicationAMMO on integrated communication
Integration:It’s More Than Just Marketing<br />Sean Williams<br />Lake Communicators<br />April 14, 2010<br />
Definitions<br />Integration:The act of forming, coordinating or blending into a functioning or unified whole. <br />Integrated Marketing: Strategy aimed at unifying different marketing methods such as mass marketing, one-to-one marketing, and direct marketing. <br />Integrated Communication: A comprehensive plan that evaluates the strategic roles of a variety of communication disciplines – advertising, public relations, personal selling, and sales promotion – and combines them to provide clarity, consistency, and maximum communication impact.<br />Definitions from Merriam-Webster online dictionary, Business Dictionary.com<br />
True Integration<br />Doesn’t subordinate one department to another.<br />Marketing is transactional – exchange for value<br />Sales is just one measure of success<br />Stakeholders may have differing objectives<br />
Integration<br />Doesn’t have to be formal<br />Isn’t necessarily a precursor to consolidation<br />Can offer significant economies of scale<br />
Open Communication in Crisis<br />Daily conference call among all internal communication representatives (then weekly)<br />Monthly expanded staff meeting including all of them in person<br />Corporate Communication attendance in Retail, Private Banking and Commercial Bank communication meetings<br />Reported to SVP Corp Comm with sitrep<br />
Coordination at Goodyear<br />VP-level dotted line reporting for non-North America tire businesses<br />Established consistent planning process worldwide (w/VP accountability mechanism)<br />Ideas shared across geographic business units<br />Event calendar to improve coordination <br />Corporate leaders visit pan-European PR conference<br />
Collaboration at National City<br />Marketing enlists Corp Comm to work on Real Stories campaign with Retail Communications<br />Corporate Comm works with other groups on materials development<br />Retail Comms asks Corp Comm for help on retail investment material development<br />IR, Corp Comm, Law, form cross-functional team with agency for financial release, etc.<br />