Demystifying integrated marketing
Graeme Slattery of notorious PSG explains how your brand can cut through the noise to reach your target audience
15 October 2014
We Irish are natural born sceptics. It’s in our DNA, passed down through generations listening to great story tellers and wild exaggerators who never let the truth get in the way of a killer story. We pride ourselves on our guile, and while we’re renowned for our warmth of spirit and friendliness, in truth our trust has to be earned to overcome our cynicism. So, when it comes to being receptive to brand marketing it takes a certain approach to turn us sceptics into believers.
Given the barrage of marketing messages that consumers face on a daily basis through TV, radio, outdoor, online, print and in-store, it’s extremely difficult to cut through the noise and for your brand story to earn a place in their hearts and minds. Add to this the conundrum that your own brand may have multiple marketing objectives to fulfil, and you may be effectively competing with your own marketing messages. The complexity of reaching your audience in a way that resonates with them becomes even more difficult. So, how do you rise above the noise and get noticed? This is where integrated marketing comes in.
It’s a well-known rule that frequency of message is essential to reaching your customer. However, consistency of message is far more important. A disjointed approach across consumer touch points will only confuse your target audience, and your efforts will go unnoticed and unrewarded.
With a unified, integrated approach you can achieve your multiple marketing objectives with one cohesive strategy, communicated in a clear and engaging manner across multiple channels. If your target consumer listens to the radio in the morning, catches up with friends in the evening on social media, reads the weekend papers or does their weekly shop on a Thursday evening, and they’re not seeing and hearing the same thing consistently from your business you are not going to succeed in connecting with them.
If you take the integrated route and your creative execution hits the spot, it is far more likely that your brand identity and positioning will be recognised, understood and reinforced, building trust and converting typically sceptical consumers into brand believers.
Sense and simplicity
But it’s not all about what is projected externally. Integrated marketing should start from within the organisation. Many years ago I worked as the brand communications director for Philips Electronics in the US and was lucky enough to cut my integrated marketing teeth as part of the company’s first global brand positioning and marketing campaign. Philips had been facing a serious identity problem, with different taglines and logos being used in different markets and thousands of websites all saying different things. Consumers and employees alike had a totally different understanding of Philips depending on where they lived. We developed one cohesive strategy and brand positioning called Sense and Simplicity and a set of clear and concise decision making and measurement pillars. We challenged ourselves to live by, and market all products across five distinctly different divisions under that moniker. Everything we did had to reflect the new positioning; from product development, to internal communication structures, supply chain and of course, product marketing. As any junior school teacher will tell you, trying to get everyone to walk in symmetry in the same line isn’t the easiest of tasks, but with the right direction, clarity of purpose and the ability to engage every team member, it is possible.
All agency approach
The best integrated marketing campaigns are created by truly integrated teams. If you use more than one external marketing agency, it is paramount to bring them together to develop the strategy. As the brand or marketing manager it is your role to lead the effort and be the glue that binds the agencies together into a unified team – don’t just leave them to it and hope for the best. Also, it’s important to develop an understanding of the skill sets and experience of each and every individual that works on your agency teams. With the lines between advertising, PR, retail marketing, promotions and digital blurring beyond recognition, you may be missing a trick by pigeon-holing your agency teams into the confines of the marketing discipline you hired them for. For example, you could have a PR consultant who is a master of brand strategy development but you’ve been solely relying on your ad agency to drive that aspect, and similarly your advertising account director may have brilliant PR ideas and experience. The only way to find out is to have everyone sit around the table together and remove any silos that may exist. Ultimately, you will end up with a way more effective and cohesive through-the-line strategy, and a killer story that helps turn sceptics into believers.
Graeme Slattery is the managing director of notorious PSG, a new creative brand communications agency born out of the merger of two of Ireland’s foremost consultancies — Pembroke Communications and Slattery Communications. The merged entity operates as PSG Communications Ltd., and features PSG Plus (Corporate PR and Public Affairs agency), PSG Sponsorship (Sports and sponsorship agency), new / slang (digital marketing agency) and notorious PSG. Graeme can be reached at Graeme.email@example.com