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Integrated Marketing: The Maze Behind The Must

Traditional marketing is undergoing massive change similar to broadcast television and newspapers in recent years.  Marketing companies can no longer wave their magic wands and hand desired results to their clients. The “Mad Men” of marketing’s past were creatures of controlled and predictable environments of traditional broadcast and print media. Today’s effective marketers must also be creatures of (and experts in) non-traditional media and news platforms that were not part of the American landscape 15 years ago. This shift presents both great opportunities and risks for marketers and their clients.

Marketing is no longer about a single, targeted message. It is about developing and executing actionable, iterative and integrated marketing plans. While most savvy marketers agree on the concept of integrated marketing, many fail during the execution and communication phases of development. These failures may occur because firms have not acknowledged the impact of the digital revolution. New methods must be developed to optimize the unique benefits of the digital age while minimizing the impact of a messy, multi-platform world that changes every second.

When Legacy Media (television, print, radio and direct mail) was king, it was far simpler to launch a converged messaging campaign. Then, the traditional marketing mix consisted broadly of advertising, public relations and print communication. In contrast, the features of the new media landscape, due to disruptive technology, no longer allow such simplistic practices. The explosion of the digital age means that organizations must engage in unified marketing strategies or they are doomed to have their messages fragmented, diluted and lost in news and information available to the public each day.

Traditional marketers also need to evaluate the current internal structuring of personnel. In order to successfully reach today’s consumers, companies must create integrated marketing teams that can break through the clutter with consistent messages.

Integrated marketing requires a single-minded focus and relentless discipline. A more formal definition advanced by the American Marketing Association states that integrated marketing communications “…is a planning process designed to assure that all brand contacts received by a customer or prospect for a product, service, or organization are relevant to that person and consistent over time.” That planning process is where marketers can fall short because their team members may not be aligned in a way that facilitates success for these complex cases.

It is not very exciting for creative brains to stop and deliberately assess internal processes and workflow; however, failure to do so will make the greatest marketing campaigns fall on deaf ears. It is like the children’s game “telephone”. By the time the original message reaches the end of the line, it has been lost in translation. The only way to reach your customer is to speak with one voice on every platform. Your message must be wherever and whenever the consumer chooses to access it. Integrated marketing communications is a wonderfully simple and elemental concept. Like many seemingly simple ideas, the challenge is designing the complex machine that can deliver powerful results.

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