I’m out on blogger vacation this week. The keys to TheKmiecs.com have been turned over to a few, select, awesome guest writers. The following has not been edited by me and is the work and effort of the original author. I appreciate the time and thinking that went into this post and hope you will too. Enjoy!
I’ve been thinking a lot about integrated marketing recently. Integrating communication – making PR, marketing, sales, social media and even customer service work hand-in-hand – will enable companies to achieve better results and do more with less.
But I know from my own experiences that this approach to communication is easier said than done. A few quick examples (not intended to be an exhaustive list):
- Sales-driven organizations want their sales reps to leverage LinkedIn – but the sales team doesn’t want to spend the time making connections, answering questions or seeking introductions.
- B2B companies want media clips, but don’t understand how to extend the clip via existing or new marketing channels.
- B2C companies claim to prioritize customer service, yet they aren’t providing such service on the channels used by their consumers.
A while ago, Geoff Livingston wrote a smart white paper entitled The Cultural Challenges to Integration, in which he explained how internal issues hamper company-wide social media adoption. (Side note: It’s very good. You should read it, if you haven’t already.) Unfortunately, the integration problem extends beyond social media. Cultural barriers also prevent the implementation of truly integrated marketing communication strategies as well.
5 Es of Integrated Marketing Success
- Embrace multiple communication channels. Media clips alone will not drive sales, generate new business leads or strengthen the bottom line. A B2B company certainly benefits from media outreach, but only if it’s accompanied by other marketing initiatives (community relations, relationship marketing, e-newsletter, etc.)
- Eliminate departmental barriers. It’s not uncommon to see some friendly competition – or all-out friction – develop between the various communication departments. However, if the PR people are supposed to work with the interactive department and the marketing team, these walls need to come down. Managers must foster a creative, “no idea is a bad idea,” team-oriented environment. If communication plans are concocted in silos, integration will suffer … or be non-existent.
- Educate, educate, educate. Just because we say we want cross-departmental communication doesn’t mean it will happen overnight. People spend years and years developing their areas of expertise. For example, the PR department may suggest an online initiative, but have very little knowledge of how much design and programming time is required. Allocate ample time for internal training focused on integration to help the departments learn to work together and what skill sets each team brings to the table.
- Examine results from ALL marketing efforts. Current technology makes it so much easier to measure what outreach efforts spark leads. Once-static digital efforts (billboards, roadside banners, direct mail, radio ads) should be interactive – thereby more measurable. (You’d be surprised how many brands aren’t property doing this … still.) For example, instead of giving a phone number (that few people will remember anyway) on a radio ad, integrate advertising with mobile marketing. Track leads, capture phone numbers and increase convenience by encouraging listeners to send a text message for more information. In this day and age, it’s hard to imagine why any marketing or PR campaign would be developed without strong metrics.
- Everything is an “experience-creating opportunity.” PR, marketing, advertising and social media are the cornerstones of an integrated communication strategy, but don’t limit yourself to those disciplines. Any interaction with a stakeholder – internal or external – presents an opportunity to create a brand-building experience. How can you make the typical atypical?
The 5 Es are just a beginning to integrated marketing success. What else would you add? Got any success – or horror – stories to share? Let’s start a discussion in the comments.
With nearly 10 years of PR agency experience, Heather Whaling recently launched her own communication firm, Geben Communication. Fusing strategic thinking, strong writing skills and creativity, Heather delivers integrated PR, social media and marketing services to small businesses and nonprofit organizations. Connect with her on her blog, Twitter or via email at heather [at] gebencommunication.com.