As a marketer who started in the ‘good ole days’ when we pushed marketing out the door using flyers, newspapers and brochures I was happy to see those days disappear.
Interaction, assimilation, engagement, consolidation or whatever might describe the new integrated marketing communications strategy we now use in corporate marketing to our customer base. I always agreed with Marshall McLuhan that the ‘Medium was the message’ but in today’s marketing process the message is king and it needs to address all stakeholders in the marketing process.
Marketing at its best can be a synergistic tool that by definition makes the whole greater than the sum of its parts. A truly integrated approach to a marketing campaign will engage not only the prospective client but will enhance the culture inside the company.
Marketing should address and/or take concerns from every level of the company into the campaign they create and direct. After all, each department and stakeholder needs to deal with the consequences of a good or bad campaign whether its increased production or decreased sales.
Integrated Marketing Communications (IMC) is not new. We used it in the past but it involved expensive and, in my mind, a shotgun approach to marketing push marketing. It wasn’t particularly measurable, forced our material onto people and certainly lacked interaction. The closest I get to force information on people today is to retarget them once they have clicked on my Facebook ad but didn’t follow through on the offer.
Most marketing people live in a vacuum. They get direction and approval from senior executives but the first time an employee, contractor or mid manager sees the campaign is when the prospective customer sees it on whatever channel the marketers pick to deliver the content.
The IMC has been updated and it works like a hot damn! It’s slick pull marketing, coupled with engagement across all layers of the company and with all stakeholders related to the business.
It is rocket science yet the traditional research needs to be done. The customer still needs to be analyzed, culled from a defined demographic and pictured in the mind of a marketer as a ‘persona’ but with our advanced techniques of analytics we can target anyone anywhere. The trick is to enhance it even further with total engagement on all sides giving it the synergy effect.
Why are things different? The message may be the same but channels are different and more varied. IMC pulls the message together and sends it out in more directions. For a normal business it might be very costly to try to keep up with the national competitor with unlimited resources for marketing. You may go the social media marketing method of using guerrilla marketing but that is inconsistent unless you have a dedicated employee to manage it constantly and know what you are doing.
A consolidated strategy using all of social media using all the aspects of online communication can take you a step closer to an integrated approach. Social media coupled with newsletters, whitepapers, YouTube and others can be the instruments to get you into an integrated approach.
But there are even more things to consider in your business marketing that can take you a few levels higher on the food chain.
Some could say that marketing has become, in the simplest terms, more than just providing collateral to the sales team. It has become public relations, investor relations and a communications funnel to include all stakeholders.
It’s a challenge because for us to engage all levels of stakeholders in a business we must deal with each of them differently. A monumental task? Maybe, but I think the results will surprise you.
Marketers have always been creative and have used all the tools available to them. We now have new tools.
There are essentially five different forms of integration you can use to increase your brand awareness, communicate better with customers and other stakeholders.
Doesn’t it make sense to make all of your employees from execs to truck drivers aware of the campaigns you are planning and running? They have input, they have people in their circles of influence and it creates a sense of camaraderie that is great for the esprit de corps.
Going one step further from staff to department is a logical jump. It sounds simple but instead of running the marketing department like an insular community pumping out collateral material for the sales department it makes sense to include all the departments in the planning and implementation of campaigns. Including sales and their concerns, accounting and their practices, HR because the company may require more hands to produce orders and distribution needs makes sense in an integrated approach for a smoother operation.
The hierarchy continues with the marketing team producing material that has, at its’ core, the well-being of the corporation. Focusing on the overall goals and vision of the business allows all stakeholders in the company to feel pride that the company walks the walk and doesn’t deviate from its core values.
Most corporations will utilize an outside agency, like PR or IR, for one or more aspects of a communications program. In this way the marketing team will have the PR or IR agencies align specifically with the vision of the marketing team and collaborate on specific issues.
What company wouldn’t work better and more efficiently with the most up to date data on consumer trends and issues? Share it! Shared information with all departments letting them extrapolate the information they feel is useful to them is a simple yet empowering way to pass information where it can do the most good.
Integration of communication for the betterment of the corporation is not innovative it’s just a practical way to make sure everyone is on the same page and doing their work more effectively.