Today’s marketers are facing a complex and fragmented landscape. With the influx of different markets, channels, and products, consumers are becoming desensitized by the constant exposure of ads. So, how do companies — particularly direct-to-consumer (D2C) brands — break through the noise? How can they engage new customers, while also saving time and money? After all, not every business has the means to spend hundreds of thousands or even millions of dollars on multiple marketing channels to reach their target audience. The answer is with integrated marketing.
Let’s further explore what integrated marketing means, why it’s beneficial for your company, and a couple of brands that are doing it really well.
What’s Integrated Marketing?
Integrated marketing is the process of unifying all aspects of marketing communication — such as advertising, PR, and social media — and using their respective mix of media, channels, and tactics to deliver a seamless and customer-centric experience. In practice, that means having a consistent look, feel and tone to your message across all the channels you use.
Integrated Marketing vs. Omnichannel Marketing
You may be wondering, “What’s the difference between integrated marketing and omnichannel marketing? Aren’t they both used to deliver consistency?” The answer is yes, but in different ways.
Omnichannel marketing is more focused on customer experience — it blends various communication channels to provide a seamless customer interaction with a brand. This can mean using an app when you’re in line at Starbucks to purchase your morning cup of coffee or taking advantage of Sephora’s in-store beauty workshops.
Integrated marketing is more focused on the message — it’s about seamlessly integrating everything from ads and sales promotions to PR and social media to target customers. For instance, Snickers’ “You’re Not You When You’re Hungry” campaign was created in 2010 and continues to run across social, television, retail, and print. Although the execution changes across different media and markets, the central theme (that when you’re hungry, your mood transforms you into a different person — literally), remains the same.
It’s important to note that while they’re separate marketing activities, omnichannel and integrated marketing should work together. It’d be a lost opportunity to solely focus on a customer’s multi-dimensional brand experience and not their shopping experience, or vice versa.
Why Should Your Business Use Integrated Marketing?
The power of integrated marketing is unmatched. Research has shown that integrated campaigns across more than four channels can outperform single or dual-channel campaigns by a staggering 300%. Here are a few reasons why:
- You receive better results. When you combine communication tools and messaging, it bolsters marketing effectiveness. The more a customer’s journey is unified, deliberate, and focused, the higher the likelihood of a sale and brand loyalty.
- You leave your mark. You can build better brand awareness when you’re consistent with graphics, headlines, and key phrases across different mediums and platforms. Creative consistency helps reinforce campaign themes by increasing the number of times prospects see or hear the same message.
- You save money. When you focus on a single message, you don’t just cut costs on creating campaigns — you’re also preventing budget-wasting that happens with inconsistent campaigns.
Where to Begin With Your Integrated Marketing Strategy
Integrated marketing isn’t just about splashing similar ads across different channels. Success depends on how well you connect with your audience and how well you adapt your message for each marketing platform. It’s about telling a consistent story to elicit emotions from your customers.
So, how do you begin building a successful integrated marketing campaign? How do you keep things consistent while also preventing your customers from getting bored? Here are a few ways to kickstart your integrated marketing strategy:
- Put yourself in your customers’ shoes. When it comes to business, EQ trumps IQ. Before developing any campaigns, you have to first answer, “What’s important to my customers?” Think about how you can solve their problems and make their lives easier.
- Come up with a compelling idea. Successful integrated marketing campaigns have one thing in common: They center around interesting ideas. Start by figuring out what sets you apart from the competition. From there, you can begin brainstorming ways to weave a (Funny? Touching? Exhilarating?) story around your key differentiators.
- Align your compelling idea with your brand values. Your compelling idea should exist in tandem with your brand values — what’s your ultimate mission? Is it to provide reasonable prices? Exceptional design? Is it a combination of both?
- Leverage the advantages of different platforms. Use content that plays to the strengths of different channels, tied together by your compelling idea.
A Brilliant Idea From the Gecko
As previously mentioned, a memorable integrated marketing campaign goes far beyond using the same tagline or color palette across every marketing channel. It should construct a coherent look and story that ties back to your brand values. Let’s go through an example of an excellent integrated marketing campaign.
You’ve probably seen or heard of GEICO’s sassy gecko. The original commercial features the gecko climbing onto a podium and muttering, “This is my final plea: I’m a gecko, not to be confused with GEICO, which could save you hundreds on car insurance. So, stop calling me!”
The “big” idea centers around humor — the company wanted to poke fun at how “GEICO” is often mispronounced as “gecko.” They then modeled the gecko’s personality to match GEICO’s brand values for excellent customer service: the gecko is “constantly cheery,” with a “natural tenacity,” and an “insatiable need to engage with people.”
Since his introduction, GEICO has integrated the gecko into countless commercials and print ads. While they all center around the gecko, the focus on the central theme — “15 minutes could save you 15% or more on car insurance” — remains the same. The gecko even boasts his own social media pages, line of merchandise, and has “written” an autobiography.
The level of consistency of GEICO’s integrated marketing campaigns has proved beneficial. According to Forbes, over the past several years, “Geico’s impression score – which asks respondents if they have an overall positive or negative impression of a particular brand — has improved at a rate about twice as fast as the home and auto insurance industry as a whole.”
Instead of relying on individual marketing efforts, an integrated approach simultaneously makes the best use of the multiple channels available to modern businesses. By integrating tools such as advertising, social media, and sales promotion, you provide clarity, consistency, and maximum communications impact.