Let's face it; integrated marketing is not a new concept. However, the meaning of integrated marketing seems to be ever changing. While many companies more or less know the meaning of integrated marketing, it's hard to define every aspect and it can be even harder to implement.
Fortunately, with a little bit of effort and a better understanding it's actually not that hard to create an integrated marketing strategy and reap the benefits of this age-old idea. As the web continues to change, the sooner you can get started, the better.
What Is Integrated Marketing?
There are really two different ways to look at integrated marketing, both of which are significant in their own right.
First, integrated marketing is all about meshing the different departments and aspects of a business together to create something significant (whatever that may be) for a company. I once explained here that it's one of those "the whole benefits the individual" type of mentalities, and that still holds true today.
Second, integrated marketing can be seen as a way to keep consistent brand messaging across traditional and non-traditional marketing channels. This means everything from ads in a newspaper, to local pages online, to videos uploaded to YouTube. Anything and everything needs to be consistent and connected, or integrated, within that same solid message.
In other words, integrated marketing is both about the people and the jobs in a company as well as the messages you are putting out to the public. Everyone needs to be integrated with one another, and everything needs to be integrated with everything else regarding your brand.
How Integrated Marketing Has Changed Over the Years
Part of understanding integrated marketing is not only realizing what it is, but what actually makes it what it is. In the introduction I talked about how integrated marketing has changed over the years. It's not necessarily that the what has changed so much as the how. To put it simply, integrated marketing has always been the idea that different marketing channels and aspects worked together for a common goal, but those marketing channels and aspects have changed.
Years ago this concept applied typically to public relations, advertisers, and customer service. Now we have different online channels to think about including social media, mobile shopping and apps, reviews, images and video, and much more. All of this in addition to the older and more traditional roles of marketing has made integrated marketing more complicated and hard to implement. Its not that the idea has changed, just the way you need to go about it.
So of course the next question is simple: How do you actually make sure you're practicing integrated marketing with your business?
5 Step Integrated Marketing Plan
There are a few different steps you can take to start implementing an integrated marketing strategy that will really last:
- Set business goals and create a targeted message. This is first and foremost. You have to integrate your staff and your messages into something that is solid, and that needs to be your message (in fact, having business goals set from the start is essentially for just about anything you're trying to do in a company).
- Communicate with staff. Educate your staff on integrated marketing and on your business goals and message.
- Create a plan. Your advertising should build on your content strategy, your SEO should help drive your email marketing, your PPC campaigns should help drive conversion testing, your customer service should lean on the content you just published, etc. Figure out how each department can really work together and make that clear. The possibilities here are endless.
- Hold weekly meetings between different departments. Make sure your departments are meeting with each other regularly and understand the overall plan for each to work together. When they meet, there should be an agenda.
- Manage performance. Your analytics should help you see the impact of integration, so pay close attention so you can see where your company may need more work.
So how is integrated marketing different than branding? You might have realized that many of the lessons of this mentality are very similar to when people use the word branding. On a basic level they can mean the same thing and you will still see success. If you want to dig deeper into it, branding refers more to the message you're putting out to the public as opposed to how you're going to make sure that the message is consistent.
Creator of Duct Tap Marketing John Jantsch called this "Clarity" in one of his articles, and explained that a company that really gets it starts with a simple unified strategy. He said:
Clarity goes beyond some of the traditional definitions of marketing strategy as it suggests that an organization understand the one thing above all that they want to be known as and they use that as the filter for everything they do.
He went on to say that oftentimes this underlying message has nothing to do with your specific product or service, but rather rests on things like purpose and community. I couldnt have said it better myself; I feel that this sums up integrated marketing perfectly. Take this message with you and talk with your company to create something that will last amidst all of the changes that will continue to come with marketing options.
Has your company created a solid integrated marketing mentality? Let us know what you think about the concept and your personal stories in the comment section below.
Amanda DiSilvestro gives small business and entrepreneurs SEO advice ranging from keyword density to recovering from Panda and Penguin updates. She writes for HigherVisibility.com, one of the leading SEO companies in the United States.