What Is Integrated Marketing And Why It Matters In Business

Integrated marketing describes the process of delivering consistent and relevant content to a target audience across all marketing channels. It is a cohesive, unified, and immersive marketing strategy that is cost-effective and relies on brand identity and storytelling to amplify the brand to a wider and wider audience.

Understanding integrated marketing

Integrated marketing is becoming increasingly important in a world where consumers are bombarded with countless advertisements daily.

In other words, only the most integrated and consistent brands will stand out as memorable.

Apple’s approach to integrated marketing is perhaps the most well documented, and for good reason. Their strategy, which is as effective as it is simple, consists of:

  1. A modern, minimalist product that is more functional and faster than the competition.
  2. Similarly minimalist packaging that serves its purpose without superfluous features.
  3. Clean, white, and spacious stores with a functional design and intuitive product displays.
  4. Commercials spanning decades that are intelligent, memorable, and make the best use of technology of the time.

Apple’s approach as a forward-thinking and innovative company that gives consumers what they want is consistent across all channels.

Over time, Apple has positioned themselves as industry leaders in the minds of their consumers and can charge higher prices for the same products offered by competitors.

Developing an integrated marketing plan

It’s important to understand that integrated marketing does not give businesses free license to develop one campaign and then repeat it on multiple channels. Modern campaigns must consider many facets of a single brand and the wider industry as a whole.

Here are a few steps that every business should work through.

1. Understand the product and market

Businesses must be aware of consumer attitudes toward their products, in addition to competitor positioning and technological advancements.

Ultimately, the business needs to understand its culture and company values before it can hope to target consumers who might be attracted to its brand.

2. Implementation

In the implementation phase, marketing teams need to work hard to deliver a consistent, integrated message across all channels.

These messages must consider factors such as design, product experience, and customer service.

When the last Kombi van rolled off the production line in 2013, Volkswagen asked Kombi owners to tell stories about owning the vehicle on a special website.

The resultant website campaign started a global conversation that spread to a variety of different channels after being promoted.

Although the Kombi was being retired, Volkswagen gained important brand exposure in the emerging Brazilian market.

3. Flexibility

Once an integrated marketing plan has gone live, it must be able to adapt to changing audiences and situations.

For example, movie producer Warner Bros created a marketing campaign specific to the third installment of the Batman series by sending consumers on a graffiti treasure-hunt.

U.S. department store Macy’s has Christmas-specific marketing campaigns, where its advertising focus shifts from saving money to gift-giving and Santa Claus.

During this shift, the company’s signature red logo and brand positioning remain consistent.

As we saw, integrated marketing communication (IMC) is an approach used by businesses to coordinate and brand their communication strategies.

Once upon a time, brands transmitted information to broad and somewhat untargeted sections of the population via television and radio.

Marketing campaigns were very much a one-way affair, with products and services advertised to consumers with little consideration for their particular needs or wants.

The term “integrated marketing communication” was coined in 1989 as businesses started to realize that a unified brand message across multiple platforms would reinforce the brand itself.

There was also a realization that other forms of advertising were more cost-effective and essential to facilitating growth.

Integrated marketing communication is a strategic approach to marketing integration.

It takes separate marketing functions and combines them into one, interconnected approach with a core brand message that is consistent across various channels.

To that end, IMC can be used to create clear and consistent communication across:

  • Owned media – customer service, direct messaging, social media, and user experience.
  • Paid media – direct marketing and offline or programmatic advertising.
  • Earned media – organic search (content marketing), public relations, and social media influencer outreach.

Integrated marketing communication examples

Integrated marketing communication (IMC) is an approach used by businesses to coordinate and brand their communication strategies.

Integrated marketing communication takes separate marketing functions and combines them into one, interconnected approach with a core brand message that is consistent across various channels.

These encompass owned, earned, and paid media. Integrated marketing communication has been used to great effect by companies such as Snapchat, Snickers, and Domino’s.

To better understand how a brand message may be unified and made more consistent, let’s take a look at a few real-world examples.

Domino’s AnyWare campaign

Domino’s realized that when its customers were hungry, they desired a simple pizza ordering process where they could avoid having to select from an exhaustive list of toppings or repeatedly be required to enter their credit card information.

To streamline the process, the Domino’s AnyWare campaign created a zero-click order process with pizza profiles for each customer and their favorite orders saved in the system.

To make ordering pizza even more convenient, consumers can now order from multiple platforms including Messenger, Slack, Google Home, and Alexa. 


Chocolate bar manufacturer Snickers launched the “You’re not you when you’re hungry” advertising campaign with celebrity cameos depicting how an ordinary person would turn into someone else when they were hungry.

The campaign launched on television and then spread to print advertisements, social media, and the product itself, where words such as “savage” and “hangry” occupied the space where the normal label would be.

After a 2015 Superbowl ad featuring celebrities such as Danny Trejo and Steve Buscemi, there was an 18,000% increase in YouTube searches for Snickers chocolate bars.


The social media app Snapchat released a line of glasses in 2016 that allowed users to take photographs or create videos and upload them to a mobile device via Bluetooth.

To create buzz around the product, the company engaged in a marketing campaign where vending machines known as “Snapbots” were installed in select cities around the world.

Each machine sold glasses for $129.99 and became a place where fans could converse about the product while they waited in line.

Snapchat cleverly used integrated marketing communication to blend a physical vending machine with its digital app.

The company attracted more attention to the product than if it had used the app in isolation and, through word of mouth, created a positive feedback loop where social media buzz built on itself as more consumers wanted a piece of the action.

The New York Times

Faced with a reduction in consumer confidence in the news and a subsequent decrease in subscribers, The New York Times used integrated marketing to restore trust in newspapers and the media more broadly.

In 2018, the company released a short video promoting the clarity of its news production.

Those walking down one of New York’s many streets were encouraged to consider what truth meant to them with three short statements:

  1. The truth is hard to know.
  2. The truth is hard to find.
  3. The truth is hard to bear.

The initiative, known as the “Truth Is Hard” campaign, served to educate consumers on what journalists expose themselves to when covering the news.

Content was distributed globally and campaigns were also devised for social media. 

Thanks to a shift in public sentiment, The New York Times was able to double its subscriber base (compared to the previous six weeks) just 24 hours after the campaign was launched.

Wells Fargo

In response to negative publicity around allegations of fraud, financial services giant Wells Fargo utilized integrated marketing to restore consumer confidence in its services.

The so-called “This is Wells Fargo” campaign was launched in 2019 and reflected the company’s drastic overhaul of its operations and culture.

Wells Fargo introduced a new visual identity which included an updated logo, a modernized stagecoach, and digital-friendly colors and tones. 

For the first time in its 167-year history, the company also showcased employees as they assisted customers with their financial needs.

In one ad, team members who worked on a simple, secure, and centralized banking platform called Control Tower were featured.

In another, Wells Fargo promoted bankers whose role focused on helping consumers increase their financial health.

In both ads, the company explained how people and technology could be combined to transform the Wells Fargo customer experience with human ingenuity.

The campaign ran across broadcast, online, mobile, and print channels in English, Spanish, and Mandarin. 

Southwest Airlines

Southwest Airlines has always billed itself as an airline that offered low-cost fares without sacrificing customer value.

With new competitors entering the market, however, the company’s brand message had become difficult to maintain and somewhat diluted.

In response, the airline launched the “Transfarency” campaign in 2015 to reinforce and reiterate its brand message.

The campaign was based on the airline’s core philosophy of the same name, defined on its website as one where “customers are treated honestly and fairly, and low fares actually stay low – no unexpected bag fees, change fees, or hidden fees.

Transfarency was initially launched across television, radio, print, and various digital assets to explain the scenarios in which a customer may be required to pay for expenses such as checked bags or snacks and drinks. 

Accompanying the launch was the first update to the company’s aircraft livery since 2001 and a fun and interactive microsite with features such as:

  • A tool enabling consumers to compare Southwest Airlines fares with competitors such as United Airlines and Delta Airlines, and
  • A game called “Fee or Fake” which tested consumers’ knowledge of the fees that may be applicable on other airlines.

Key takeaways

  • Integrated marketing is a seamless and multi-dimensional form of marketing with a consistent message across different channels – whether that be TV, radio, or internet.
  • Integrated marketing is perhaps best exemplified by Apple and their consistent message as a minimalist, futuristic, and highly functional brand.
  • Integrated marketing campaigns are based on a solid understanding of product and market and are flexible enough to adapt to changing market conditions and consumer preferences.

Integrated marketing communication combines separate marketing functions into one interconnected approach with a core brand message consistent across various channels. Take the case of how Snapchat released a line of glasses in 2016 that allowed users to take photographs or create videos and upload them to a mobile device via Bluetooth.

Connected Marketing Concepts

Affiliate Marketing

Affiliate marketing describes the process whereby an affiliate earns a commission for selling the products of another person or company. Here, the affiliate is simply an individual who is motivated to promote a particular product through incentivization. The business whose product is being promoted will gain in terms of sales and marketing from affiliates.

Ambush Marketing

As the name suggests, ambush marketing raises awareness for brands at events in a covert and unexpected fashion. Ambush marketing takes many forms, one common element, the brand advertising their products or services has not paid for the right to do so. Thus, the business doing the ambushing attempts to capitalize on the efforts made by the business sponsoring the event.

Brand Building

Brand building is the set of activities that help companies to build an identity that can be recognized by its audience. Thus, it works as a mechanism of identification through core values that signal trust and that help build long-term relationships between the brand and its key stakeholders.

Brand Equity

The brand equity is the premium that a customer is willing to pay for a product that has all the objective characteristics of existing alternatives, thus, making it different in terms of perception. The premium on seemingly equal products and quality is attributable to its brand equity.

Brand Positioning

Brand positioning is about creating a mental real estate in the mind of the target market. If successful, brand positioning allows a business to gain a competitive advantage. And it also works as a switching cost in favor of the brand. Consumers recognizing a brand might be less prone to switch to another brand.

Business Storytelling

Business storytelling is a critical part of developing a business model. Indeed, the way you frame the story of your organization will influence its brand in the long-term. That’s because your brand story is tied to your brand identity, and it enables people to identify with a company.

Content Marketing

Content marketing is one of the most powerful commercial activities which focuses on leveraging content production (text, audio, video, or other formats) to attract a targeted audience. Content marketing focuses on building a strong brand, but also to convert part of that targeted audience into potential customers.

Digital Marketing

A digital channel is a marketing channel, part of a distribution strategy, helping an organization to reach its potential customers via electronic means. There are several digital marketing channels, usually divided into organic and paid channels. Some organic channels are SEO, SMO, email marketing. And some paid channels comprise SEM, SMM, and display advertising.

Growth Marketing

Growth marketing is a process of rapid experimentation, which in a way has to be “scientific” by keeping in mind that it is used by startups to grow, quickly. Thus, the “scientific” here is not meant in the academic sense. Growth marketing is expected to unlock growth, quickly and with an often limited budget.

Guerrilla Marketing

Guerrilla marketing is an advertising strategy that seeks to utilize low-cost and sometimes unconventional tactics that are high impact. First coined by Jay Conrad Levinson in his 1984 book of the same title, guerrilla marketing works best on existing customers who are familiar with a brand or product and its particular characteristics.

Inbound Marketing

Inbound marketing is a marketing strategy designed to attract customers to a brand with content and experiences that they derive value from. Inbound marketing utilizes blogs, events, SEO, and social media to create brand awareness and attract targeted consumers. By attracting or “drawing in” a targeted audience, inbound marketing differs from outbound marketing which actively pushes a brand onto consumers who may have no interest in what is being offered.

Integrated Marketing

Integrated marketing describes the process of delivering consistent and relevant content to a target audience across all marketing channels. It is a cohesive, unified, and immersive marketing strategy that is cost-effective and relies on brand identity and storytelling to amplify the brand to a wider and wider audience.

Marketing Mix

The marketing mix is a term to describe the multi-faceted approach to a complete and effective marketing plan. Traditionally, this plan included the four Ps of marketing: price, product, promotion, and place. But the exact makeup of a marketing mix has undergone various changes in response to new technologies and ways of thinking. Additions to the four Ps include physical evidence, people, process, and even politics.

Marketing Personas

Marketing personas give businesses a general overview of key segments of their target audience and how these segments interact with their brand. Marketing personas are based on the data of an ideal, fictional customer whose characteristics, needs, and motivations are representative of a broader market segment.

Multi-Channel Marketing

Multichannel marketing executes a marketing strategy across multiple platforms to reach as many consumers as possible. Here, a platform may refer to product packaging, word-of-mouth advertising, mobile apps, email, websites, or promotional events, and all the other channels that can help amplify the brand to reach as many consumers as possible.

Multi-Level Marketing

Multi-level marketing (MLM), otherwise known as network or referral marketing, is a strategy in which businesses sell their products through person-to-person sales. When consumers join MLM programs, they act as distributors. Distributors make money by selling the product directly to other consumers. They earn a small percentage of sales from those that they recruit to do the same – often referred to as their “downline”.

Niche Marketing

A microniche is a subset of potential customers within a niche. In the era of dominating digital super-platforms, identifying a microniche can kick off the strategy of digital businesses to prevent competition against large platforms. As the microniche becomes a niche, then a market, scale becomes an option.

Relationship Marketing

Relationship marketing involves businesses and their brands forming long-term relationships with customers. The focus of relationship marketing is to increase customer loyalty and engagement through high-quality products and services. It differs from short-term processes focused solely on customer acquisition and individual sales.

Sustainable Marketing

Sustainable marketing describes how a business will invest in social and environmental initiatives as part of its marketing strategy. Also known as green marketing, it is often used to counteract public criticism around wastage, misleading advertising, and poor quality or unsafe products.

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