Integrated marketing has become such a popular buzzword; you’ve probably heard it at least a few times in the past year. Like it or not, get ready to hear it again this year, because integrated marketing is here to stay. In fact, Forbes contributor, Rob Eleveld, calls 2013 “the year of integrated channel campaigns.” But what is integrated marketing, and why is it so important to anyone running a business in 2013?
To put it as plainly as possible, integrated marketing is a marketing strategy that aims to make all aspects of your business (advertising, sales, PR, social media, etc.) work in unison together. This allows you to create a seamless customer experience that helps reinforce a tone and style that’s consistent with your brand’s message.
Who Cares? What’s the Problem?
With the sheer quantity of advertising and marketing in the world today, consumer attention is fragmented, to say the least. Imagine if an insurance firm ran a billboard advertisement with a billboard slogan, “Everything is better with Acme Brand,” and that caught the attention of thousands of commuters as they were on their way to work. Now imagine that Acme Brand didn’t bother to integrate their billboard advertisement campaign with their internet campaign, and the commuters who searched on Google for that slogan instead found a critic, a competitor’s website or something utterly unrelated to the business they were looking for. While that billboard advertisement isn’t without value for Acme, it’s easy to see why keeping a consistent message and tone throughout your business would be advantageous.
If you have experience doing inbound marketing with a heavy emphasis on content marketing, you understand it can be difficult to create a seamless transition into sales-oriented content and actually selling your services without a rapid break from your non-sales content becoming apparent. So what’s the trick to integrated marketing?
Understanding How To Integrate
Bringing integration to your business isn’t merely a matter of sticking a tagline or catchphrase on all of your content or keeping to the same color scheme. How often do you think your favorite radio advertisements would translate well to television or magazines?
Integration is about keeping a consistent identity in all of your brand’s messages, regardless of the medium that they’re delivered in. It demands that your brand have a unified voice and strategy and can be presented in virtually every visible aspect of your business. Everything you do to attract and retain your readership needs to be integrated into the same cohesive whole.
One common sense way that businesses are integrating today is making heavy use of cross promotion. Any content published is cross promoted across a host of social media websites including Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and so on. Not only does this help these businesses gain exposure to as many audiences as possible, it also helps facilitate a consistent message in their internet presence.
The Bottom Line
There is no doubt that successful integration takes time, effort and energy, but the improvements in conversion rate and ROI from successful integration is well worth the effort. Conventional advertising wisdom dictates that keeping with the same advertising campaign (as long as it’s working) as long as possible is the best course for your brand image. Ask yourself, how many consecutive years have you seen polar bears on the side of a Coca Cola can in December? Integrated marketing is here to stay because it makes the most of consistency by helping your brand retain a strong sense of integrity and reliability, which, in turn, helps show the world the type of stability and optimism that consumers are attracted to.