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INTEGRATED MARKETING


 

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INTEGRATED MARKETING

The key factor in marketing today is integration. Integration of traditional and on-line marketing as well as various marketing tools in a single campaign. Integrated marketing gives your campaign a life of its own.

Integrated marketing is the coordination of several marketing tools that in many cases are already in place. They just need to be integrated.

For example, a direct mail campaign can go just so far. But, if during that campaign, your prospects read articles about you in the newspaper, if they have been invited to a special event you are sponsoring, if they hear you interviewed on a radio talk show, if they see your ads, if they read you will be giving a talk somewhere -- that is when your direct mail campaign becomes an integrated marketing campaign. Your efforts have breathed life into it.

If your TV spots are saying one thing, and your designer came up with print ads that say something else, and your telemarketing is off on a third tangent and your direct mail is doing its own thing -- that kind of marketing is not integrated and it will not work.

To make these well-selected marketing weapons operational, they all must be pulling in the same direction, saying virtually the same thing, helping to clarify instead of confusing the customer. Everything in Integrated Marketing is designed for maximum airtime -- and accuracy.

Integrated Marketing is cost-efficient, focused, comprehensive, measurable and ROI oriented.

An integrated solution to a marketing problem begins with close inspection of your company, your target audience and your marketing environment. Your prospect's state of mind, lifestyle and media usage are the best clues you have to which combination of tactics and marketing weaponry will bring about maximum results. And every element of your mix should spring from and reinforce the single strategic message behind the campaign. Divergent approaches baffle the prospect and put a drag on the thrust of your campaign.

Until the 1990s, integrated marketing was a happenstance thing, if it ever happened. Three things happened that changed that trend:

1. Mass media fragmentation. Network TV no longer reigned supreme.
2. The mass market disintegrated. The time was ripe for niche marketing, one-to-one marketing and CRM.
3. The economy decimated marketing budgets. Direct marketing grew.

Twenty years ago, 75% of marketing budgets went into advertising. Today, 50% goes into trade promotions, 25% to customer promotions, and a bit less than 25% to advertising.

The year 2000 has seen the growth of integrated marketing and leadership in marketing. The marketing leaders of the new millenium bring talent and judgment to many marketing areas. These people are not scared of marketing, are not intimidated by media, know how to do research, realize the abundance of free marketing weapons, and believe fervently in operating from a plan. They are fascinated with team work, project management, online marketing. They love the accountability of integrated marketing, and are as intrigued with newsletters, customer follow-up and CRM as they are with advertisement.

When they use advertisement, they spend $1,000 to produce the spot, not $200,000. When they run it, the cost is $15 in prime time, not $15,000.

Integrated marketing is the hallmark of the present and future marketing. Great news for the new marketing leaders, but hardly what traditional and award-lovers marketers living in the past want to hear.


Integrated Marketing


Cutting-edge companies maximize sales performance and customer loyalty by aligning all of the sales, marketing, and customer service programs under a single vision.

The key: defining your organization’s unique selling proposition and mobilizing all of your key departments to synergistically deliver it.


OVERVIEW


Integrated marketing is hardly a new idea. Executives have been talking about its advantages for years, but few took the trouble to practice it. Recent changes in the marketplace, however, mean that companies that hope to survive must give integrated marketing more than lip service.

Today’s customers have more, better and faster access to information than ever. Bombarded by competing messages, they can rapidly sift through the information overload to find what they need, and they are better equipped than ever to distinguish false marketing claims from substantive ones. Marketing integration provides companies with a competitive edge by focusing all of the sales, marketing, and operations resources on promoting the same message throughout the customer and prospect base and doing everything possible to make sure that sales and marketing promises get consistently delivered.

Marketing integration not only increases the chances that your organization’s message will break through the clutter, but also that your customer’s expectations will be consistently met. Integrated strategies not only ensure that your message will have more impact, they can do so with greater cost efficiency than can old-fashioned strategies.

In today’s world, mass-marketing is giving way to micro-marketing, by which organizations strive to identify and focus on the people most likely to buy. The one-product-fits all concept now fits fewer and fewer. Even niche marketing is giving way to one-to-one marketing: tailoring a product or service to the needs of a single customer.

Under the traditional organization structure, the sales and marketing message gets fragmented across myriad strategies and tactics. Marketing often develops messages that the salespeople fail to sell or which contain service promises that operations or customer service fail to deliver. At big organizations, even marketing messages become fragmented across medium, meaning that advertising, promotion, and other marketing tactics fail to leverage each other or, even worse, work at cross-purposes. The results: declining brand loyalty and excessive marketing costs.


DEFINITION


Integrated marketing mobilizes all of a company’s marketing and sales strategies under a single vision and strategy implemented in concert by all of the organization’s relevant departments.

In the traditional model, a company is made up of discrete departments dedicated to a specific discipline, such as sales, marketing, market research, corporate communications, customer service, advertising, promotion, public relations, trade shows, events, information technology, manufacturing, and distribution.

Often, they seem to operate in their own little worlds, with the result that management "silos" emerge by which different departments operate with different agendas and often not in concert.

In the integrated marketing model, a company becomes a cohesive unit with a single overall goal based on maximizing awareness among the target audience and making sure that the marketing promises get consistently distributed across all sales and marketing media, and that they get consistently delivered at the point of sale.

Rather than operating in silos, departments work in concert to make sure that each of their activities work toward the common goal.


OBSTACLES TO INTEGRATED MARKETING


There are several reasons that people resist the shift to integrated marketing:

Turf. People are possessive of their domains. Salespeople, especially, do not want to share information that they have worked hard to acquire and that they believe they own. They do not want to reveal their "confidential" plans for success; they want others to be surprised by the plans and impressed by, perhaps even envious of, the results.

Ego. This ties in with turf issues. If everyone shares, people become equal. It becomes difficult to tell who has the "better" information, the smarter suggestions, or the greater success.

Budget. In the traditional company, budgets are allocated by department, according to both need and results. If departments work toward common goals, the thinking goes, management might not consider some departments more important or more successful than others. Thus they would not deserve larger budgets; they might even see their budgets cut.

Inertia/disenchantment/fear. These are the three components of resistance to change. First, inertia makes people want to keep doing what they have always done; it is just easier. Second, people often are disenchanted with leaders constantly experimenting with a new management flavor of the month. Third, people resist change because they fear the unfamiliar.


CRITICAL ISSUES


Marketers today talk about the importance of "building relationships," the need for "customer relationship management." They understand that good relationships are the key to developing loyal, long-term customers. But it is only through integrated marketing that the contemporary company can take the actions required to build those relationships.

Customers have more options, and they are more demanding. They have access to more products, more sources of information, and more ways to buy, notably, online. That means that marketers have more competition than ever. Today's customers also know that they do not have to "settle." If you do not offer what they want, someone else will. And if no one does, customers might just decide to go without rather than accept something that does not please them.

The marketplace is changing. Traditional companies developed products or services, set sales goals, and devised plans for creating demand. In The New Marketing Paradigm: Integrated Marketing Communications, authors Don E. Schultz, Stanley I. Tannenbaum, and Robert F. Lauterborn label the traditional approach "inside-out" marketing, because the marketing plan originates inside the organization. In contrast, "outside-in" planning originates with customers and their needs.

Playing by the new rules. Can you accept the results of your research? Managers must be willing to use the data they collect and analyze. They must be constitutionally capable of changing their thinking from "This is what we want to sell; how will we market it?" to "This is what the customer wants; how will we provide it?" That change can be especially difficult if customers reject a product or service in which much time and money have been invested, or one that has an influential champion at the company.

Integrated messages can be sent only by an integrated company. This is a major consideration. Integrating a company could require structural changes, perhaps scrambling the organization chart. At the very least, it means establishing cross-functional teams in which every department is represented. Strategic planning thus becomes an enterprise-wide effort, and information and responsibilities are shared.

For example, if research reveals that customers want a change in payment terms or new financing options, it is obvious that accounting is not the only department that needs to know; salespeople and customer service need to be in the loop as well. If warranty terms change, tech support and customer service need to know. When a new product is being promoted, the marketing department should update the sales force, customer service, and others who deal with the public, including the person who answers the phones. In addition to a description of the product's features and benefits, this information should include a consistent promotional message.


STEPS TO SUCCESS


Identify needs precisely. The way to do that, of course, is to conduct research. The traditional methods are still effective: focus groups, mall intercepts, polling by phone, and mail surveys.

And now you can add the Internet to that list. Asking visitors to your Web site to fill out a registration form in order to access information is a quick and easy way to obtain detailed data on enormous numbers of people. You can also use software that tracks visitors as they move through the Web site, building a personal profile. And you can conduct surveys via e-mail. Combine information from the Internet with data you gather from other sources, run it all through a computer program that can analyze and manipulate the data, and you will know more about customers and prospects than you could have imagined just a few years ago.

Give the sales force a central role. Salespeople are a key source of information about customers and prospects. Whether on the phones or in the field, they are the ones making direct contact and gathering vital data. At the same time, new technologies enable salespeople to do their jobs better. With cell phones, palmtop computers, and personal computers linked to the home office, salespeople can gather information quickly, transmit it to the office, and get rapid replies for the customer. The company gets up-to-the minute feedback, and the customer receives personalized service. It is important for inside salespeople and field salespeople to share account information, and it is always a good idea to include customer service and other functions in the loop. Potential problem: Independent reps and distributors, and sometimes company salespeople as well, can be reluctant to share their information. Only in a truly integrated enterprise will they be willing to do so.

Integrate outside agencies with the company and with each other. Probably the easiest way to achieve this is to use a single agency to handle all elements of a particular campaign, everything from advertising and sales promotion to direct mail and event promotion. But if that is not possible, individual agencies must communicate with each other, either directly or through an in-house liaison person. There is no way they can produce consistent, compatible messages unless they have the same information about target audiences and strategic goals.

Foster teamwork. Marketing integration requires close coordination between departments. A company based on integrated marketing would never let the advertising department work in a vacuum: every department that is involved with delivering a marketing promise has to be involved with its formation. This means cross-functional meetings to develop strategy as well as camaraderie and understanding between departments.

Be consistent, not conflicting, in your communications. Consistency creates awareness, reinforces the message, and helps build your brand. But conflicting messages are a quick way to confuse, and possibly lose, a customer.

Institute regular cross-functional meetings. Integrated marketing not only involves all department heads in overall strategy development, but also requires consistent interdepartmental communication to ensure that each group is doing its part according to the plan or to identify unexpected problems.

Provide training. For employees in one department to work in concert with others, they have to have a broad understanding of all of the organization’s functions and activities. On-site training, as well as online training, can help heighten awareness among employees about how their own actions and programs can affect the overall strategy and the other people involved with its implementation.

Monitor results across medium. Market research should look not only at the overall impact of any one campaign on the target audience, but also the role that each strategy played in achieving the results. Research should determine not only whether the message was consistently delivered but also whether the implied or explicit marketing promises were consistently executed at the point of sale. Changes in tactics have to be based on results, not organizational turf battles.

Rethink compensation. Since integrated marketing focuses on delivering results across the organization, incentive programs require a link to achieving the organizational result, not simply the individual or department goal. Look for strategies that place emphasis on overall results and teamwork.


Never stop learning and thinking out-of-the-box... "The only sustainable competitive advantage a company can have is the ability to learn faster than its competition." Theodore Levitt

Remy M. Mauduit


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