Recently a conversation with a small business client got me thinking about the underpinnings of Integrated Marketing Communications.
Found on the Data and Marketing Association site: Integrated Marketing is an approach to creating a unified and seamless experience for consumers to interact with the brand/enterprise; it attempts to meld all aspects of marketing communications such as advertising, sales promotion, public relations, direct marketing, and social media, through their respective mix of tactics, methods, channels, media, and activities, so that all work together as a unified force. It is a process designed to ensure that all messaging and communications strategies are consistent across all channels and are centered on the customer.
On about 1990 when I embraced “Marketing Public Relations” MPR, it was defined as the process of planning, executing and evaluating programs that encourage purchase and consumer satisfaction through credible communications of information and impressions that identify companies and their products with the needs, wants, concerns and interests of consumers. Sounds familiar?
A decade ago it was the new golden age of branding where many organizations’ simply inserted their brand throughout the digital universe. Money poured into creating stickiness; viral and memes just another form of buzz. The problem was along with the exponential proliferation of devices as delivery mediums, it started becoming harder to simply buy fame. With a plethora of choices, opting out became the default position of so many so called target audiences. The arrival of new social tools and mediums for message dissemination were often treated as extensions of existing paradigms and staid legacy organizational constructs of the hay-days of the Mad Men.
Simply slapping visit us on Facebook on a ketchup bottle label was all you needed to do to build community. Right?
Thankfully, with the advancement of Search and analytic tools, so came the understanding to take a more holistic approach to the interconnectedness of things Digital and Offline.
Content Marketing and Search guru Lee Ogden considers his online agency approach as “search plus” meaning search (SEO and SEM) are central to their effectiveness. Yet Ogden puts forward: client marketing objectives requires a broader view than just optimizing web pages and digital assets. As social and search technologies evolve along with changes in consumer behaviors, there’s a trend towards a convergence of disciplines. With digital and integrated marketing, more attention is being paid to the buyer journey and the multiple channels where paid, owned, earned and shared media can attract, engage and convert new business. The convergence and integration of marketing tactics as a strategy brings many competitive advantages but also complexities. Discounting search optimization outright wastes tremendous opportunity. Overemphasizing search misses the forest for the trees.
Core is understanding who your customer is and where, when and how to reach them. In the Social Era, tools and platforms now exist for Organizations’ to subtly influence a customer via multiple touch-points throughout their buyer journey. Ultimately building strong, long lasting relationships.
As Author/Big Social Era Thinker Nilofer Merchant has put forward, “the social era is about connecting people, things and ideas. It’s not how many you reach, it’s how many you connect.” It’s interesting to observe how quickly sharing everything is rapidly becoming foundation of culture: thinking-twitter; reading-Stumbleupon; finances- Motley Fool; everything- Facebook.
In practice as it relates to Integrated Marketing, just because we inhabit the Social Era does not mean all activities are focused on Social platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, or the App store. In fact, I look at those platforms as a whole and as just another channel. Again, aligned and integrated in step with other channels that include Targeted Blogs, SEM, SEO, Social and Display Ads, PR, Content Marketing, Email Marketing, Engineering as Marketing, Affiliate Programs, Trade Shows, Speaking Engagements, Community Building and Business Development efforts.
In the end, Integrated Marketing for the Social Era is about strategically integrating communications and interactive experiences coordinated with consistency across multiple channels. Using a PESO (Paid media, Earned media, Shared media, Owned media) approach to reaching potential customers throughout their unique buyer journey. In my next post I’ll shed some light on my thinking around PESO as a framework from an Integrated Marketing purview.
A final thought: just because you can open a Twitter or Instagram account does not mean that’s the right choice in where to put your energy on Social. Just because it worked for American Apparel does not mean that’s right for you. Ask where are your potential customers hanging out and how do they go about finding solutions to their problems?
Until next time, thanks for reading.