What Integrated Marketing Means to Me -- Christopher McKinley
Posted by Chris McKinley at Mar 02, 2012 07:02 AM CST

Integrated marketing is usually poorly defined, just like most newly-hyped terms. For example, remember 10 plus years ago when industries made a mad dash to own “a CRM”? CRM went from a noun (usually a technology solution) to an adjective to an approach -- and finally landed as a philosophy.

For me, integrated marketing has experienced a similar evolution. Today, I think it's best described as an approach to marketing that can only be fully realized when it's fully embraced by your entire organization. Actually, it’s a little like love: it must be wanted, and it takes work, belief and commitment ... and we all need it.

Essentially, integrated marketing combines the core components of advertising, marketing and public relations with activities and gifts, brand development and research data. These components alone offer insight and achieve results, but taken together, they have potential to dramatically outweigh the sum of the parts -- achieving far greater impact.

Admittedly, integrated solutions sometimes seem overwhelming. Many seem to suggest that you must be “everything to everyone ... everywhere.” In reality, that’s less of an integrated marketing solution and more of a “one size fits all” approach. One made increasingly ineffective as it’s debated across multiple functional teams. Along the way, messaging objectives are diluted, and long-term strategy is sacrificed for short-term gain. Eventually, the story becomes virtually non-distinguishable amongst all communication touch points. An integrated approach to marketing is informed by multiple data points and will lead to solutions that selectively choose or eliminate a channel message or audience based upon the goal. It’s the availability of the multiple data points, the sharing of information and collaborative planning that brings benefits.

The benefits of integrated marketing are valuable, but they won’t happen by accident. Careful integration strategy leads to:

In any industry -- let alone one as cloistered as ours -- the ability to learn rapidly and embrace new solutions is a priceless advantage. That's especially true for organizations and agencies that embrace integrated marketing today. While they're still somewhat rare, those who succeed benefit their constituents, their organizations and their marketing. With respects to Michael Scott, that’s a “win-win-win” situation. And there really is no compelling counter argument.

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