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:
- A modern, minimalist product that is more functional and faster than the competition.
- Similarly minimalist packaging that serves its purpose without superfluous features.
- Clean, white, and spacious stores with a functional design and intuitive product displays.
- 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.
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.
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.
- 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.
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