Integrated Marketing. A seemingly esoteric term as many marketers are trying to navigate this landscape. What does it mean? How does it work? Why even care? Over the past couple of years, this term has been steadily rising in popularity. Is it just a fad or a long-lasting trend? Really, what's all the fuss about?
Let's define Integrated Marketing Communications (IMC) using our handy resource, Wikipedia:
"defined as a customer-centric, data-driven method of communicating with customers. IMC is the coordination and integration of all marketing communication tools, avenues, functions and sources within a company into a seamless program that maximizes the impact on consumers and other end users at minimal cost. This management concept is designed to make all aspects of marketing communication such as advertising, sales promotion, public relations, and direct marketing work together as a unified force, rather than permitting each to work in isolation."
This is a good definition to work with and gain understanding. Some key points here are integrated marketing involves coordination of all aspects of your marketing program–messaging, channels, creative, technology, tools, etc. Also the fact that the end result should be seamless and working together in unison, not isolation. And one other important key point is data. Data should drive your program so intelligent decisions can be made to optimize the overall effort.
In order for an integrated marketing program to work, it needs to be based on a solid strategy. If you fail to plan your integrated marketing efforts, you're planning to fail. A master strategy needs to be developed that defines goals and objectives, audience considerations, channels, success metrics, and how the various components support each other. At Rhythm, we advocate a strategy-first approach and have positioned ourselves to adopt an integrated approach to marketing. We believe in it so much we modified our byline late last year (we executed a brand refinement for ourselves) to state, "Integrated Marketing. Digital Core." Coupled with our tagline, our overall brand promise has become we create effective brand experiences through integrated marketing with digital at the core of all efforts.
So why all the fuss? Because Integrated Marketing is the future. It works and marketers see the need to build competencies to effectively manage integrated campaigns. It's time to start thinking about how your online and offline efforts are working in conjunction, how your strategies address the link between all your audience touch points. Integrated Marketing is where it's at. This is the future. It's loud and clear for us.