What Does Integrated Marketing Really Mean?

Written by: Danielle Cyr

You’ve likely heard the term integrated marketing. But, what does it really mean? More importantly, what does integrated marketing mean for your company? Or, your cause? In this post, we’ll break down the basics of integrated marketing and help determine if this approach is the right communications strategy to help you generate optimal ROI.

Integrated marketing is…multi-channel
Integrated is about more than blending traditional and social. It’s about creating a custom blend of internal and external communications, community relations and investor relations, and the list goes on. The goal of an integrated marketing strategy is to lay the foundation for a proactive marketing communications program that ensures all tactics are working together to achieve a common set of goals and objectives.

Effective integrated marketing programs are built on a common set of message points and keep all target audiences top-of-mind. This synergistic approach ensures companies and causes aren’t competing with themselves for audiences’ attention and that audiences gain a comprehensive understanding of an organization’s depth and breadth.

So which marketing communications channels comprise a company or cause’s integrated marketing toolkit? Tradeshow marketing, social media marketing, public relations (including media relations and community relations), direct mail, search engine optimization (SEO) and search engine marketing (SEM), advertising and inbound marketing, to name a few. Again, each company or cause should have a ‘custom blend’ that is best suited to achieving their objectives.

Integrated marketing is…cohesive
Needing to communicate with different target audiences through different channels can often make maintaining consistency a challenge. As we discussed under the umbrella of multi-channel, integrated marketing programs help companies to effectively communicate about all of their programs and services to all of their audiences without competing with themselves for market share and/or attention. By developing a multi-channel program that bridges various channels, mediums and audiences, companies and causes are able to optimize their marketing resources while maximizing ROI.

As a result of this integrated approach, companies and causes alike have more, highly- targeted content to work with and are able to be more effective in driving the right traffic to their content. Examples of this include, but are not limited to:

  • Blog posts that recap tradeshow speaking engagements;
  • ‘Live’ tweeting from conferences and company/cause-hosted events;
  • Using website case studies as hard-copy sell sheets; and,
  • Recapping takeaways from conferences and professional development seminars via blogs.
  • Integrated marketing is…multi-department
    The emergence of inbound marketing (also known as content marketing) solidifies the importance of having sales and marketing on the same page, working to achieve common business goals. The benefit of a multi-department program is that knowledge is shared across the company, ensuring everything from marketing collateral to sales presentations are on-brand and tailored to the end user’s needs.

    What are the benefits of integrated marketing?
    In many instances, an integrated approach makes it easier to prove marketing ROI. This is the result of a strategic approach that focuses on measurable outcomes, be it increased revenue, donations, etc. Further, aligning sales and marketing teams in support of common goals and objectives reduces redundancies and ensures consistency of messaging between departments and job functions.

    How does one take their traditional and/or social marketing and transition to an integrated approach?
    Rest assured, we aren’t advocating for throwing the baby out with the bath water. We’re simply suggesting that recalibrating can help to achieve better results.

    Before implementing an integrated marketing strategy, it’s advisable to audit your current marketing activities to determine what has historically worked well and what strategies and tactics have under-performed. Going through a marketing audit will help ensure your integrated marketing strategy focuses on the audiences and channels that have the greatest potential to positively impact the bottom line. Once you’ve audited your current marketing activities, you’re ready to step back, align your marketing plan with your overall business/nonprofit plan and begin creating synergy between your online and offline, marketing and sales activities.