What the heck is integrated marketing?
Gone are the days when good marketing involved only a recognisable logo, a catchy slogan and a TV, radio or print campaign. There’s no doubt the digital world has created huge marketing opportunities - it has never been easier for brands to engage directly with their customer base, and target ads to the people who want to see them.
However, it also brings challenges. With so many platforms to choose from, when brands try to do everything - without developing a cohesive identity - it can do more damage than good.
That’s where integrated marketing is so important. But what the heck is it?
Although it sounds like it, integrated marketing isn’t made-up advertising jargon! It’s about keeping things simple. Essentially, a successful integrated marketing campaign will tell an engaging story and deliver the same message on every platform it uses. Mascots (think Compare the Meerkat), case studies, design and ‘tone of voice’ are all examples of popular storytelling devices in the marketing world. Stories hold so much power because we are hardwired to respond to them - they stimulate areas of the brain associated with emotional connection, meaning we remember and trust a clear, consistent and personalised narrative.
As well as vastly improving customer experience, integrated marketing can actually reduce advertising and marketing costs because content can be re-used across multiple platforms to aid narrative consistency. However, the art of keeping things simple requires thoughtful, meticulous planning and a clear strategy. Here’s PMW’s guide on how to do it:
Work out what you want to achieve
The first step is to work out campaign goals and pin down the ideal end results. This might be increasing brand awareness, with a view to driving leads and sales, or to launch a rebrand. Don’t shy away from numerical targets. Whatever the goal, you need to be aware of it – this is how campaign success will be measured, and it will also inform the message you put to your customers.
Get intimate with your customer base
Who are they, what do they want, and what makes them tick? A brand’s identity needs to resonate with its customers, so get to know the people you want to speak to. Conducting real customer research is invaluable here - analysing what has worked for competitors and using surveys and focus groups to answer questions like “what social media platforms do our customers use?” can really make the difference between a flop and a success.
Craft your story
Once you have got into the minds of your customer base, it’s time to use that information to develop your brand’s story. Focus on what it is you offer your customers – but don’t get hung up on the service, instead think about the feeling your service gives those who use it. According to their marketing, Coca Cola don’t sell drinks, they sell happiness. You need to work out where your brand falls and create a simple narrative around that feeling. But it needs to be concise and accessible, so don’t write a novel!
Choose your channels
A common mistake is to choose what marketing channels you will use at the beginning of the process, and develop campaigns based around their capabilities. However, it’s easy to get side-tracked by what others are doing and end up developing content that isn’t right for your brand, or waste time on a platform your average customer doesn’t use.
A carefully crafted campaign that does a few things really well is far better than a campaign that spreads itself too thin in an attempt to nail everything at once. So, make a plan and stick to it. Remember that these platforms are just vehicles for you to get your message across – you need to know where you are going before you set off.
Make sure your marketing agency works as a team
If you’re thinking about getting in touch with an agency, or you’re already using one, the best results will come from using a single agency who do everything in-house. Businesses that employ various marketing contractors simultaneously, or agencies that subcontract out their work, will usually struggle to achieve narrative consistency in their campaigns. Choose an agency that describes themselves as an ‘integrated’ or ‘full-service marketing agency’ and take a look at the work they have done for previous clients to make sure they are skilled at developing great stories for their brands.