Integrated Marketing: Are your activities connected?
We’ve been spending a lot of quality time at the marketing DELI lately. We’ve explored the value of differentiation, made our way to the engagement counter and looked at leverage as a marketing asset. All of this works best with an integrated approach – making a concerted effort to unify different activities to reinforce a core strategy.
Marketing integration became critical in the late nineties when marketing shifted from a few mass advertising approaches (such as print campaigns, radio, direct mail and the Yellow Pages) to an ever-expanding range of specific niche tactics including SEO and social media activity, paid search, influencer and content marketing, video, audience-specific sales promotions and email campaigns, co-marketing, point-of-sale strategies, community engagement… the list grows every week it seems.
The niche approach allows for a better use of marketing dollars, it’s true, moving from the ‘spray and pray’ model to a thoughtfully targeted program that offers more assurance that efforts are reaching qualified prospects. However, often businesses have different people overseeing different tasks, perhaps from different locations, and with minimal strategic oversight. Fragmentation happens easily in this environment, and it’s easy to start to see small (or sometimes big) differences in the look, voice and core pillars of the brand.
The most fundamental step is with goal-setting. A marketing plan worth its salt will define clear and measurable goals that set the tone for everything you do, and should be clearly communicated to guide all activities so that an individual effort’s goals dovetail with core strategic expectations.
Next comes messaging: using simple and consistent language will knit everything together. Create a strong, recognizable campaign for the season or year – be it a contest, promotion, pricing discount or just to reinforce why you’re the best at what you do. Define the compelling messages that will be used on all marketing activity – from a print ad to the words at the bottom of an invoice, a blog post to a charitable tie-in. Pin those key messages to the shirts of everyone involved in marketing and ensure they stick to the script, tactic by tactic. This will establish a steady narrative when audiences are hit by your messages from multiple channels.
Applying a rigidly consistent visual strategy on everything we produce is another essential step. It’s tempting to take the local newspaper up on the offer to layout an ad for free, to ask the graphics printing company to put together the artwork for a home show banner, or rely on an employee with a Mac to develop online ads. However, does everything look like it’s coming from the same business? Does the design reflect the professionalism of the brand? Instant recognition is a strong factor in connecting viewers to your company. If design work is being done by different people without a core understanding of your brand, careful attention should be paid to ensuring a recognizable and respectable look for your company.
Marketing is also a lot closer to the ground in companies nowadays: contractors may be asking technicians to identify other selling opportunities while they are in the home. Customers are engaging with us through social media, email and in person. We’re even asking the customers themselves to act as our marketers by referring or reviewing us online. All of these people should understand the goals and core messages. This is an opportunity, too, to inject marketing in non-marketing functions: bookkeepers, drivers and others should all understand the message.
This all sounds basic, I know…. “Of course, we’ll make certain everything is the same!” Trust me, once the wheels start turning and all of those other job demands start pressing in (after all, few marketing people in smaller businesses only do marketing stuff), it’s easy to lose sight of the importance of an integrated goal, message, identity and measurement approach.