The integrated imperative! That’s where marketing is today. Heed the headline, or perish. There really aren’t any options. Over the last several years my clients and I have noticed that marketing has gotten harder to do well, we had fewer choices and those produced good results. There are more marketing choices, channels and media options than we thought possible just a few years ago. Choosing wisely and making it work across channels and markets – integration, is what it really driving our marketing world today…and to do it well is hard!
On May 10, Steve McKee, in Business Week, authored the article “Integrated Marketing: If You Knew It, You’d Do It” He starts with the opening paragraph – If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it, is such a cliché that it has spawned its own cliché: If it ain’t broke, break it. Unfortunately, that’s just what many companies do unwittingly to their branding programs, playing into the hands of public enemy No. 1 in today’s marketing environment: Fragmentation.
The rest of the article made the case for integrating the marketing, mainly keeping a consistency of messaging across multiple platforms we all endure today. It is a delightful read, and one that many of his readers commented on in a favorable manner. For the most part I agree, but the key message he iterates is ‘integrated marketing is hard!’ Yes it is, and this is why so few are able to do it well, if at all.
The boomer generation grew up with tightly bracketed marketing channels. You bought the best and then hoped for good results. The good news is that your audience had fewer choices and they were generally on the receiving end – be it newspapers, television, radio or out of home.
That world doesn’t exist today, and everything is hard. So many choices, and so many places for your audience to be hiding. The digital world is wonderful with all of its options on both sides, but for the marketer it is tough to juggle all those balls. Three key channel options for most, have now turned into 8 to 12. On top of that it is now ‘social’ so your audience can talk back to you…and you better be listening, because they’ll carve you up if you aren’t. Trust me, I have, and they have left scars for not listening and not responding fast enough.
The McKee article is a good read, and I implore you to look at it. You should also read the reader comments which come mainly from industry participants, who mostly agree, but they also have their particular bents. They are in agreement that ‘integrated marketing is hard.’ Yes it is, but there is no choice. The world we knew was broken, and there is no going back. Multiple channels, both analog and digital need to be attended to and used appropriately to reach your target ‘audiences’ (emphasis on the plural) if you are to survive.
Many of my clients have long histories, they love their new options, but still talk about how it ‘used to be.’ We commiserate, have a cup of coffee, and then get on with reality and plan how to cover their broad patch of media options. All of this with careful attention to keeping the message consistent and true to each channel of their multi-faceted customer and target base. It takes more time, and more money, but it produces better results. Isn’t that what we are all looking for? It’s a new world, and I love it!