Most companies build their marketing over time, adding one piece to another as the company grows. When you first started out, you might have only had the money for a paid search campaign. As you got bigger, you added a social media manager, a community manager, someone to handle video, and so on — but are those people really cooperating? Or are they each doing their own thing?
For a lot of companies, it’s the latter. You might be wasting a pretty substantial amount of time and money simply because your marketing isn’t integrated. Your channels aren’t talking, you’re not repurposing content, and you’re not unifying your analytics. An integrated marketing strategy is all about streamlining everything you do into one unified campaign, all while giving you the data you need to see what’s working.
What is Integrated Marketing?
The whole idea behind integrated marketing is to create one coherent experience for every user that interacts with your brand, whether they’re seeing your social media posts or picking your product off a shelf at a department store. Thanks to the power of software and the internet, you can have an unprecedented level of oversight into the way your various channels interact.
By unifying your message, you’re reaching your customers more effectively. Most people will interact with your brand half a dozen times before they make a purchase, and you want those interactions to feel coherent. It’ll also save you money, since you’re not duplicating your efforts. You’re not making multiple videos or multiple image posts for each channel — you’re creating a few fantastic pieces of content and then repurposing them across your entire marketing plan.
Why Use Integrated Marketing?
First, integrated marketing puts forward a more consistent message. Your brand has a voice, and you want that voice to sound the same no matter where your potential customers are hearing it. As an added bonus, unifying the marketing team will help you catch mistakes or gaffes before they go out, saving you from embarrassment.
Another bonus is that your sales team will be more effective. Plenty of salespeople have been derailed when a lead calls in, asking about a promotion that the salesperson didn’t know about. When your teams are collaborating, you don’t have that problem.
Finally, this approach will be easier on your bank accounts. By avoiding duplication and making the most of the content you have, you’re saving time and wasted effort, allowing your marketing people to spend their time and talents on more important things.
How to Get Started
Building an integrated marketing campaign from scratch can seem overwhelming, but you have to start somewhere. And you probably already have a lot of the tools you need in place! Just put one foot in front of the other and you’ll be cranking out integrated campaigns in no time.
Start With the Customer
You can’t run a campaign if you don’t know who you’re campaigning for. Before you start anything, you need to know who your product or service is actually for — and don’t say “everyone,” because that’s not true. Take the time to think about the characteristics of your perfect customer:
- How old are they?
- What kind of education do they have?
- Where do they live?
- What kind of work do they do?
- What are their interests?
- What problems do they need to solve?
- What’s getting in their way?
Answer all these questions and you have a “buyer persona,” a fictionalized version of your ideal customer. Keep this hypothetical person in mind when you create any marketing materials and you’ll be sure to keep them unified and coherent.
Choose Your Channels
Part of building a buyer persona is determining how they’re likely to interact with your brand, and that includes the channels you can use to reach them. If you’re marketing to basketball fans, then advertising on the sports sites they read is a good option. If you’re marketing to teens, you should probably stay away from Facebook, since teens don’t use it.
How much research do your customers do, and how do they do it? What time do they typically check email in the morning? Do they mainly interact with the web on their phone or on a desktop?
The other factor is which channels you’re willing to maintain. A YouTube channel takes a lot of work, cranking out high-quality video content and interacting with the community. A Twitter account can be run by one or two people, but Twitter is volatile — one piece of bad press can spread like wildfire before you have time to react. Make sure you’re not stretching yourself too thin, and only use the channels that you can handle.
Start With Content
It’s tempting to pick a channel and then start designing posts for it, but you’ve got it backward. Start with a good content idea that conveys the message of your campaign, then adapt it to the channels you’re using.
Take GoPro, for example. When they wanted content for their Be a Hero campaign, they started with the greatest content repository at their disposal: their users’ videos. On YouTube, those videos were posted with music and sophisticated editing. On Instagram and Facebook, they were clipped into bite-size chunks. In print, they turned freeze-frames into still images. By working off one concept, they kept the message of the campaign consistent.
Take Advantage of Tech
One of the reasons we can get away with something as complicated as integrated marketing is that we have software to do the heavy lifting. There are tools that let you collaborate with your team on content, no matter where everyone is. You can schedule campaigns across channels and post them automatically to create a unified brand image. And most importantly, you can track the success of every aspect of every post on every channel, allowing you to adapt to what’s working and what’s not.
No Time Like the Present
Getting an integrated marketing strategy up and running can take some time and effort, but there’s no time too soon to get started — it’ll only get harder as your company and your marketing grow.
Talk with your marketing team about which channels and campaigns are already working the best, then figure out where you might be overlapping your marketing. Get your content creators together to talk about where you could collaborate and how their content can work on multiple channels. There’s no perfect solution that will work for every company, but talking about it is the first step.