How to Go Integrated in a Specialty Marketing World

It’s hard to believe that it was almost three decades ago to the day that my work title was “Integrated Marketing Manager.”  Our product group was a small team of about 40 people comprised of design and product engineers, production control/operations, manufacturing, customer service, and marketing personnel. We were bringing an 8-bit microcontroller to the market in a new technology that embedded unique memory and peripherals. We were in pursuit of category ownership and market dominance.

My job responsibilities were fairly consistent with the DMA’s definition of Integrated Marketing, “implement a strategy and meld all aspects of marketing communication (advertising, sales promotion, public relations, direct marketing/events, etc.) so they work together to motivate customers to know, prefer and adopt our products.” Integrated Marketing, in this generalist role, was the tactical delivery of the Go-To-Market strategy.

The success of Integrated Marketing depends on having a good strategy. Integrated Marketing isn’t so much about doing more as it is about doing the right activities in the right channel, at the right time. Sound familiar?  If it sounds like matching your Marketing with the Customer Journey, you’re right. At that time, we called this “pipeline engineering.”

Over time, this job title all but disappeared as Marketing became more specialized and siloed.  Email marketers, social marketers, digital marketers, content marketers, brand marketers, SEO marketers, event marketers, and customer engagement marketers filled the ranks along with market researchers/analysts, marketing operations, and so forth. The specialists became, and serve as, experts in their area.  Specialization can boost productivity and efficiency. It also creates internal fragmentation as each expert focuses only on their area. The downsides of the specialist approach are further compounded by the proliferation of channels and messages and fragmentation of markets.

As we return our focus to the customer journey and take a more customer-centric approach to Marketing, all customer-facing functions within an organization need to be more unified, that is, integrated. Integration is the only way to overcome fragmentation. To quote Steve McKee, “to fight off fragmentation effectively, everything you do to attract, convert, retain, and engage your customers should be integrated.” A decade ago, Angus Jenkinson published his book Integrated Marketing, and its implications for personalized customer marketing strategies, where he declared that “Integrated Marketing is considered to be the organisation-wide optimisation of unique value for stakeholders.”


Implications to Marketers, Marketing Organizations and Business

Customers don’t think in terms of channels. They don’t say “I’m going to engage with XYZ brand via mobile.” Your customers and prospects engage with the sum of your brand which is greater than the parts. Your brand, your story, your value proposition all need to be consistent across all channels and mediums, ultimately delivering competitive advantage and greater revenue and profits. So, processes, messages, and content need to be integrated. Yes, integration takes time and companies have as short attention span as customers and want to see results – NOW. Customers are also in constant search for the next great thing. As a result, organizations tend to change direction frequently, adding to integration challenges.

While complete integration is unachievable, companies that can harmonize and integrate all their Marketing efforts have an advantage, especially in terms of customer experience, improved customer retention, and improved customer acquisition.


Integrated Marketing Best Practices

Every time a customer engages with your brand, be it a marketing asset/function, or a finance, support or delivery function – it is all Marketing, Marketing with a capital M. These five practices are now imperative for achieving the goal of customer-centric, Integrated Marketing:

  1. Customer Buying Journey Mapping must be implemented and regularly reviewed and updated. Maps should cover all customer interactions across all internal organization functions, external channels and mediums, and all phases of the solution lifecycle (cradle to grave). The maps, or subsets of the maps, should be shared externally as well with partners, e.g. agencies, strategic partners.
  2. Messaging Architecture including text and graphics, for each solution/channel/medium or function/lifecycle combination, must be created and implemented, and again shared externally as applicable. Product Managers must work even more closely with Product Marketing Managers to flesh out prioritized messaging for each channel and for each phase of the product lifecycle. All messaging should roll up to, and be consistent with, the Company Vision and Mission.
  3. Data Integration across all internal organizations and with key partners must be implemented. Too much data still sits in silos preventing a 360-degree view of the customer. New Marketing Technology is moving in this direction and can be part of the integration solution. The resulting data will feed into the Customer Journey Mapping as well as informing decisions such as product lifecycle phase strategies, metric setting and reporting, etc.
  4. Change Management must become a core competency, both for implementing Integrated Marketing across the company and externally where applicable, as well as adapting to rapidly changing markets. Senior level support and your Marketing Operations group must be strong to lead this charge.
  5. Metrics Integration/Rollup (Activity, Operations Performance, Outcome, Leading Indicator metrics) across all functions and rolled up to business priorities. Results should be set and communicated across all functions and externally as applicable. Again, this is a role for Marketing Operations.

In short Marketing must become a Center of Excellence with a focus on:

  • Providing leadership by fostering and institutionalizing best practices
  • Enhancing team skills to improve marketing performance
  • Achieving business results faster through increased agility

How to Get Started

Your ideal starting point depends on your current maturity level and resources, but start you must. VisionEdge Marketing is providing a limited number of complimentary 20-minute conversation to assess your current state and recommend the best starting point to ensure success. Contact us by August 28, 2017 to take advantage of this opportunity.