If you say “Integrated Marketing Campaigns” to a mixed group of marketers (think Mad Men to The Social Network and everything in between, and you’ll get a wide range of opinions. Some marketers love them and aspire to engineer and deliver amazing integrated marketing campaigns. But many others think of brand-centric, old-school, slow-moving broad base campaigns — think of network TV or radio ads back in the day when “Mork & Mindy” was the all the rage.

It’s true — your grandpa plaid integrated marketing has no place in today’s marketing landscape. From its inception in the eighties, integrated marketing was also known as 360º branding,” “the whole egg,” “relationship marketing,” and “one-to-one marketing”.

That’s probably the biggest problem: Integrated Marketing turned into a catch-all phrase for an campaign involving two or more channels or tactics. In the end, while trying to be everything to everyone, it became useful and effective for absolutely no one. But don’t panic – it’s not time to abandon ship – there’s still value there if we can bring it back to reality.

Here’s how the Data & Marketing Association defines integrated marketing today:

… an approach to creating a unified and seamless experience for consumers to interact with the brand/enterprise; it attempts to meld all aspects of marketing communication such as advertising, sales promotion, public relations, direct marketing, and social media, through their respective mix of tactics, methods, channels, media, and activities, so that all work together as a unified force. It is a process designed to ensure that all messaging and communications strategies are consistent across all channels and are centered on the customer.

Today’s integrated marketing strategy is everything you want to do, offer and be for your customers. Well-executed integrated marketing campaigns run by agile marketers are efficient, high-performing and reach their customers. What CMO or CEO doesn’t want that?

Integrated Marketing Campaigns demand integration

Ask any CEO about their biggest concern about their marketing department, and they will identify one of two key issues. First, measuring effectiveness, is as prevalent as it was 20 years ago. The second, which is the subject here, is a lack of integrated messaging across marketing channels.

When the content marketing team is running their own programs, the brand team is working on a completely different campaign, and the demand generation and direct marketing group is launching yet a different initiative to the sales organization. It’s enough to drive any CEO nuts. Universally a CEO wants to see an integrated, streamlined approach to building a brand. Not only is it more effective, but is also more budget friendly

The CEO and CMO want to see a machine that can be continually optimized, easily duplicated, and completely cohesive between departments for a more connected company. Just as important, she sees an integrated marketing campaign as a means to communicate innovation and value in a consistent way to customers everywhere.

There are really three reasons why an integrated marketing campaign is important:

  1. The leverage to perform. We know that every marketer is under more pressure than ever to perform. The performance mandate is real, and to stay relevant they must always find new and different ways to become more efficient and agile to meet the demands of both customer and the internal organization. Putting all of this together requires a level of discipline and expertise.
  2. Cleaning up content marketing. Integrated campaigns require a focused content marketing strategy. At this time, we feel content marketing has become bastardized and truly is broken. Building an integrated marketing campaign with a specific persona, target market and performance goals is helpful to making sure we start off in the right direction.
  3. Serves across the entire customer life span. As the role of marketing evolves to own the entire customer life cycle, integrated campaigns should deliver a complete customer experience.

Constructing an effective integrated marketing campaign

Can an effective integrated marketing campaign be constructed in weeks rather than months, quarters, or years? Of course. Is it possible to build an integrated marketing campaign that’s adaptable, flexible, & responsive to market opportunities? Certainly. So, let’s line out the construction of an effective integrated marketing campaign.

1. Personas are Powerful

There is great power in the persona, and it’s the secret ingredient for any successful integrated campaign. All companies of all sizes need to understand their customers, their pain points and what they need to be successful. Marketers need to build detailed messaging for personas and treat these messages as living, breathing archives that can be continually updated and manipulated.

The ongoing analysis and adjustment of your personas is essential and should be one of your most high priority marketing activities. Your personas must become part of the lowest common marketing denominator across the company. This fundamental understanding of your customer will not only inform your marketing decisions, but also operations, research/development, and product evolution as well.

2. Know your Market Segment

You’ll always need to be thinking about what segment of the market you talking to – prospects or customers? Small businesses or global enterprises? Local or International?

It’s the case of classic market segmentation. Put together your well-developed personas and add a clear target market, and this combination will help you to build the perfect pieces of content.

3. Create balanced content, not noise

Putting together your well-developed personas and your clear target market  will help you move your content marketing from a disconnected part of your marketing to one that is completely integrated into your marketing mix. The confluence of SEO and content marketing supports the creation of content with balance that delivers some personalization at the bottom of the value ladder for a more relatable customized experience

4. Create it once, promote it everywhere 

Once you have balanced content, naturally it’s time to test it in the marketplace. As you continue to grow in scale, it’s important to create content one time and then use it all over the place.

Most customers and marketers who fell into the “content marketing trap” found themselves in the constant battle of creating more and more lackluster content to use across every marketing channel. What most learned through this exercise was that the majority of the content wasn’t performing or it wasn’t relevant or representative of their brand. Often the content is inaccurate or irrelevant to what’s happening across the company, and ultimately the campaign had a poor ROI and ultimately money was wasted. There was no measure of brand success, and overall fell flat on its face.

This is where agile and responsive (not reactive) marketing comes into play. By focusing on one or two pieces of content with consistent messaging, marketers can quickly tune up their campaigns to discover what matters in the market and to their personas. This allows us to stop talking in months and quarters and starting talking about weeks and sometimes even days.

So we are certainly recommending is spending more of our resources on amplifying the balanced content in the marketplace and generating performance and results instead of creating lots of different bits of content.

The Wrap Up

It’s true; integrated marketing campaigns can sound like old-school marketing, but they’re actually essential for modern marketers. When executed properly, integrated marketing campaigns allow marketers to get better results out of smaller teams.

Integrated marketing campaigns ultimately help marketers and companies adapt and build agile skill sets and an agile approach to their tactics and strategies.