Expert advice on integrated marketing, including the benefits of an integrated marketing campaign, how to create an integrated marketing campaign, how to choose a campaign idea, and how to launch an integrated marketing campaign in a big way.
Integrated marketing is: cohesive, unified, interconnected
- Coordinated in look, tone, personality, tagline, logo and theme
- Integrated throughout all customer touch points (advertising, events, email newsletters, direct mailings, website, promotions, packaging…)
- Sends complementary messages within an overall theme
- Drives the brand reputation and demand (sales and leads) for the products/services a company makes
Uncoordinated marketing happens when there are different one-off marketing and advertising efforts with different messaging using different visual looks and tone. If all the marketing was posted on a wall, it wouldn’t look like it came from the same company, product or brand.
Is your marketing integrated?
- Do you use the same tagline or slogan in everything? (Or do you change it?)
- If you put up on a wall all the marketing and sales communication a prospect and customer might receive from your company, would it look like it came from the same company? (Or does it look like different people created the marketing?)
- Does your logo look the same in everything? Is there continuity in the type style(s) and colors you’ve chosen?
- Are the messages used in your marketing consistent in how they explain the company/product/service? Is the tone consistent? Does your marketing sound like it’s from many different people or one voice?
If you answered yes to these questions, then you have integrated marketing and are presenting your brand in a consistent manner.
Integrated marketing is like an orchestra with a conductor that gets all the different sections (in music the flutes, drums, etc. and in marketing the advertising, direct marketing, email marketing, website, trade shows, packaging, sales presentations, promotional and demand generation activities) to play beautiful music together.
In contrast, uncoordinated marketing sounds like musicians jamming in a random manner. That’s what a lot of start-ups do. Hey, let’s try this…and then this…and then this.
Integrated marketing unified within a brand campaign drives the brand and demand. Brand and promotional demand generation marketing are most effective when they work together. The brand marketing conveys the reputation of the company and makes it a safer buy. The demand generation promotional activities focus on messaging and offers for “why buy” and “why buy now.” The brand campaign accelerates and assists the demand generation activities.
Think of coupons you get in a mailer. Aren’t you more likely to act on a coupon from a company brand that you know? That you can trust buying from? The coupons from unknown brands don’t work as well. Same thing applies to online and search ads. Who wants to buy from some unknown and potentially untrustworthy company?
With this integration and coordination 1 + 1 + 1 = more than 3. There’s something called the marketing multiplier effect that gives every marketing activity an “assist” because it’s part of a cohesive integrated brand campaign.
There’s a relevant and interesting case study that was reported in The Harvard Business Review about an orchestra that was led by a conductor and a self-led orchestra where all the players collaborated on the music they would play and how to perform together. The self-governed orchestra sounded better but it required more practices and a greater investment in time from each of the musicians than with a conductor-led orchestra. Makes sense. Consensus and collaboration takes longer than someone directing everyone what to do.
The HBR article says,
Riding the crest of recent artistic and organizational successes, this self-governing symphony orchestra now confronts the challenge of engendering a culture in which, in the words of the managing director, ‘everyone in the orchestra is constantly thinking, how can we make this better?'”
Benefits of integrated marketing
1. The unified marketing program makes customers think: “This brand/company is consistent…reliable…safe to buy from. I know what to expect.”
When you’re traveling and you want to stop somewhere to eat, doesn’t it seem “safer” to go into a McDonald’s or Subway than an unknown restaurant or coffee shop that the locals may love but seems “risky” to you? (If you’re a local coffee shop what this means to you is that “curb appeal” is critical to attract new customers to your “unknown brand.”)
2. Your company or product/service brand will look more professional and “bigger”
The sum of the marketing “parts” (ads, email marketing newsletters, promotions, events, PR and your website) will be perceived by prospects, customers and your competition as greater than it actually is. It will look like you are spending more money on marketing.
If you invest in different types of advertising media (TV, radio, online, outdoor billboards, newspapers, magazines) using the same campaign, you’ll get an added benefit of what’s called the “media multiplier effect.”
All the big marketers know and use integrated campaigns. Small companies and non-profit organizations can too.
Know this: It’s very hard (and somewhat based on luck) to come up with a really “big idea” for an integrated campaign.
Why is it so hard to do well?
- Concept was not invented here. Different agencies or freelancers may all have great (but different) ideas and they won’t want to use another person’s or agency’s idea.
- Many ideas will work in only one or two types of marketing very well (for instance TV or a website home page) but the idea won’t work well in a different area, for example, lead generation and more “close the sale” marketing programs.
- Often business owners don’t know they need to act as the “orchestra leader” to coordinate and integrate all the different marketing “players.”
- A small business owner doesn’t know or doesn’t fund the development of an overall brand identity (logo, typefaces, colors, tagline and personality) and the development of a “big idea” campaign that will work across multiple customer touch points (ads, website, promotional offers, newsletters, etc.)
- Not waiting to get a “big enough” creative idea. Since the campaign is being “invented,” no one knows long it will take to come up with a great idea. That’s a lot of luck and sometimes a lot of time. If you’re paying people on an hourly rate, you’ll be tempted to “just pick something” versus say “try again please.” You have to be willing not to accept “good enough” from agencies or freelancers.
- Time pressure. Agencies may say, “We need the campaign in place by this date so you’ll need to pick one of these ideas.” This happens to big companies all the time which is why you see so much turnover in their campaigns.
- A “big idea” that works well in only one type of marketing (ads, website, trade show, direct mail, an infomercial) may not work well across all the customer touch points and marketing programs.
How to create an integrated marketing campaign
1. Get inspired
Identify and save examples of what you like and don’t like to share with the creative team you hire and to help clarify in your own mind what “great” is. This is the first step you’d take if you were going to hire someone to create your “showcase home” isn’t it? You’d look at lots of magazines and websites to identify what you’d want your home to be like and to identify interior designers styles you like.
2. Very carefully select an agency or freelancer to develop your integrated campaign
- Do not rush.
- Do research to find freelancers or agencies whose work on integrated marketing campaigns you admire.
- Don’t hire anyone who hasn’t developed an integrated campaign before.
- Ask to see all integrated marketing campaigns they’ve created and ask specifically what their role was in developing the campaign. You want to find out if they were “involved” or if they “did it.” There’s a huge difference. It’s like hiring an architect: You don’t want to hire a draftsman who worked on the building you like. You want to hire the “idea person” who came up with the great plan for the building. Marketing works the same way.
- Keep running your old campaign until you get something “great.”
- Consider hiring freelancers (art directors and writers) who understand and appreciate all the different marketing approaches (not just advertising).
- Consider hiring two or three teams of creative people (if you can afford this) who work at different agencies or independently. Give them all the same assignment and then see what idea you like best. If you do this with one agency, they’ll show you three ideas generally from the same creative team and they’ll really have one “favorite” idea and two others. You increase your odds of getting a great idea by using more people and making it a bit of a “contest” between them.
3. Write a very specific creative brief for an integrated campaign
- What customer touch points the campaign concept will be used for. Some things to consider: ads, merchandising, packaging, direct marketing, website, trade shows, brochures, annual report, etc.
- What brand personality and branding elements should be kept and used in the campaign. Branding elements would be logo, tagline, typeface, colors, visual look.
4. Write the creative brief
Start by developing your advertising strategy creative brief and broaden it to include all the other marketing tactics that will be part of the campaign. This is what you use to explain the creative assignment to art directors and writers at your agency or agencies and to freelancers who work on marketing for you.
TIP: You may want to hire an experienced marketing consultant who has successfully developed integrated campaigns in your industry to lead this project.
5. Outline how you are going to select the “winning” idea ahead of time
Are you going to conduct customer research? If so, at what stage of the creative process? Early concepts, finished mock-ups, final creative concepts?
What if the idea works in TV advertising but doesn’t test well on packaging? Or merchandising? or your website?
From our experience: It’s very helpful to do 1:1 interviews, focus groups and online research where you can show creative concepts to get as much customer/prospect feedback on the campaign ideas, preferably early in the process. This will help you and the agency determine what ideas are resonating with customers and why. This isn’t “testing” because it’s with a small number of people but it’s very helpful during this “invention” phase of a campaign. Later it’s smart to invest in quantitative ad testing to determine which campaign works best.
Clarify if you want a new logo and brand identity (colors, type style) created as part of the assignment and parameters for that.
Brief the agency(ies) and send them off to create “big ideas” for your campaign.
6. Choose a campaign idea
Remember, the options are “this one” or “none of these.” If it’s not great, ask the agency to show you more ideas.
You want to think through and see examples how the ideas will be used in different situations (to create awareness about a new product/service and to promote a special offer to existing customers).
You need to evaluate if this campaign idea will work in advertising, trade show booth signage, your website, merchandising and packaging.
If you plan to conduct customer research, get that started. We highly recommend some type of customer research with prospective and existing customers to get their feedback and advice about the campaign.
7. Launch the campaign in a big way
Wait until you can “turn on the campaign” in multiple marketing touch points (website, brochures, advertising, newsletters). You want to “launch” the campaign like a new product introduction, not “dribble it out” into the marketplace.
Promote the campaign internally to everyone in the company. They’ll need to know about and deliver on the new campaign message and any promises.
Promote the campaign with “the channel” (retailers, distributors and their sales people) if you sell through one. A new campaign can be a very powerful sales tool to motivate your retailers to sell more of your products or services. They’ll see “you’re helping us” and “it will be easier to get deals.”