Integrated marketing as the key to brand excellence

Many companies today find themselves in an incredibly complex environment. Traditional marketing models have collapsed, fragmentation is endemic and the struggle for relevance depends on adopting a model that is up to the challenges ahead. As marketers face increasing revenue pressure, a dizzying diversity of customers, markets, channels and products, shrinking budgets and siled organizations, studies have shown that a integrated marketing approach is rapidly becoming the model of the future.

Why is this approach important?

As the name suggests, integrated marketing is an approach that brings coherence to the complexity and fragmentation that increasingly characterizes the world of marketing. Specifically, integrated marketing refers to the process of aligning and coordinating a marketing organization to deliver a consistent, seamless, and customer-centric content experience across all channels.

Since content is the common currency of every market and consumer touchpoint, integrated marketing increases operational efficiency and drives superior performance through collaboration. The business case for integrated marketing is moving from a competitive player to a profit powerhouse.

The fight is real.

In light of the above, the obvious question arises, “Why haven’t more marketing organizations taken an integrated approach?” In over a decade of partnering with marketing organizations to help them achieve integration, here’s the short answer I found: The fight is real.

We have met the enemy, and it is us.

While it’s easy to blame complexity outside of our organizations as the main obstacle that stands in our way, the main challenge to building an integrated marketing organization is internal. In other words, we have met the enemy, and it is us.

Competition is not the answer.

The enemy of integration that lies within most organizations is internal competition resulting from once functional divisions within and between teams to manage multi-channel challenges. But with multichannel rapidly giving way to omnichannel, channel-specific silos are serious liabilities and hotspots of dysfunction, and integration is mission critical.

How do we defeat the enemy of integration within our own organisations? The solution lies in the key shift from a culture of competition to a culture of collaboration. With reduced competition comes increased collaboration, and with increased collaboration comes increased organizational integration and customer focus.

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Six milestones for building an integrated marketing organization.

Secure executive sponsorship and cross-functional buy-in.

Without dedicated executive sponsorship and cross-functional buy-in, an integrated marketing organization fails. (And leaders who deal with silos need to understand that their refusal to take an integrated approach actively enables their competition.)

Build a cross-functional team to integrate the organization.

If you are a leader in your organization, find cross-functional champions and leaders who will support you. If you are a champion, find like-minded colleagues and recruit an executive who can help drive the onboarding initiative.

Perform a SWOT analysis.

At this stage, the idea is not necessarily to find solutions, but to discover the main problems and challenges within the team and with the stakeholders in order to be on the same page. It is particularly important to identify hidden silos (which may appear as areas of specialization that are too narrow) and other barriers to collaboration.

Engage in collaborative planning guided by a unifying big idea.

Collaborative planning should be guided by a big idea that serves three functions. First, this big idea should be centered around dynamic storytelling and serve as a North Star. Second, it should be ambitious, focused, and aligned with your brand values. Finally, it should inspire a range of brand assets, activations and a variety of content tailored to different audiences and channels. Every activity performed by everyone in your organization should be informed by and lead back to this big idea.

Implement holistic workflows.

Holistic workflows provide the cross-functional transparency and clarity that accelerates the production of quality content through coordinated execution. Each piece of content should have its own separate but clearly interconnected workflow in the production process. This includes everything from ideation to compliance review signing and approval, etc. I always advise companies to create an inventory of all types of content that exist in the organization. It then maps the stages and production cycle of each piece of content, prescribes checkpoints, assigns tasks, and determines ideal timeframes required for completion. Throughout the process, great care should be taken to clearly define roles and responsibilities and to actively include stakeholders and third parties.

Support your efforts with an integrated technology stack.

Technology is a major force in improving the coordination needed to overcome silos and achieve high levels of collaboration. Ideally, the marketing technology stack should support digital marketing, lead generation, and multi-channel campaigns. The integrated technology stack is a sign of an organization’s maturity, as it helps automate communications and channel metrics.

last line

It has become important and strategic for marketing organizations to adopt an integrated approach, and early adoption brings the first advantage in the market. Faced with the complexity that characterizes the world of marketing today, the future of marketing lies in overcoming fragmentation through intensive coordination and coherence. In the shift from competition to collaboration, marketers are already realizing the marketing model of tomorrow.

About Deborah Wilson

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