I recently spoke at a PR conference on the topic of Integrated Marketing. As head of the Integration Architecture department at McKee Wallwork & Company, I felt pretty confident in the subject matter but was struggling with a good way to summarize my material. In the middle of the night (when most ideas come to me), the perfect synopsis popped in my head so I reached for my iPhone and entered a note containing four words:
To me, these four words best represent the traits required to develop, launch, and maintain a successful integrated marketing program. Brands that exhibit these qualities are not only triumphant in their marketing endeavors, but also in reaching their business objectives. Think: Apple, Nike, Coca-Cola, Victoria’s Secret, Ikea, GE, and IBM. Their enduring success is not by accident. Each of these companies has worked diligently over many, many years to implement solid marketing strategies that are integrated throughout the entire organization. How do they do this?
First, they deliberately identify their marketing goals, define their targets, and create distinct identities. This part isn’t easily and quickly done and could be a whole other blog post. I’m going to focus here on what happens next. Assuming those items are in place, the next step is to design a long-term, strategic integrated marketing program. The idea is to craft a suite of tactics that work together to create a seamless experience for the consumer/customer.
Developing this type of integrated plan is tough and requires:
- CONSISTENCY (harmony between parts): A seamless tactical plan should address each of the Four Ps – Product, Price, Place and Promotion. This requires that various departments across the organization work together. The marketing department should be the liaison between management, operations, R&D, customer relations, IT, sales, HR, etc. to ensure that all facets of the company are focused on making the consumer experience consistent.
- CONTINUITY (staying the same over time): No matter what industry the brand is in, the four stages of the customer life cycle remain true - Attraction, Conversion, Retention and Engagement. It’s crucial that your communications across each of these stages are unwavering, similar in tone and continuous over time. This isn’t to say that messages or tactics can’t be refined, but the overall brand identity should remain constant.
- PERSEVERANCE (steady over a long period despite difficulties): Developing and maintaining an integrated marketing program is hard work. It takes discipline and drive to make it work, even more so to make it last. Don’t give up. Keep pushing to ensure the company is working well together to create this uninterrupted consumer experience.
- PATIENCE (persist despite complexities): With the proliferation of so many new marketing options, it’s easy to say something “isn’t working”. And with the strain of today’s economic conditions, there's huge pressure on marketers to prove success. This can lead to changes or even overhauls of marketing plans too soon. It’s important to remain calm and stick with what you believe in for your brand. If you deliberately and strategically created a brand platform and coinciding marketing plan, then give it time to work. Think about how long Apple, Nike and especially Coca-Cola have been promoting innovation, motivation and happiness respectively. There’s a reason those businesses are so successful, and it’s definitely not because they gave up and changed direction too soon.
So if your brand can keep these four tenets in mind when designing an integrated marketing program, you will be more likely to see success in your efforts.
Emily H. Griebel, a marketing strategist since 1997, developed her skills at some of the top marketing firms in the country (including 8+ years at MWC). She now runs EHG Consulting and offers strategic planning services to organizations that can't justify the need for a full-time marketing director. She can be found on LinkedIn or @EmilyHGriebel on Twitter.