Integrated Marketing: A Lesson in Consistent Messaging
Creating a brand flavor with integrated marketing
Ever stop to think about the brands and marketing campaigns you've seen throughout your life? People say that movies and TV shows can define a cultural period, but let's face it: Memorable marketing campaigns can have just as big of an impact.
Some of the most iconic campaigns in the last couple of decades were the ones that went beyond a single piece of media. They were the finely crafted experiences that followed you online, in-store, and everywhere in-between. There's a reason why those campaigns are so memorable: these brands successfully implemented integrated marketing communications.
Integrated marketing communications (IMC) is about aligning your marketing efforts to deliver the same core messaging across multiple channels. It's the ultimate lesson in consistency and coordination. When done right, it can leave a lasting impression.
The basics of integrated marketing
Content marketers have a huge mountain to climb these days. You're working in an oversaturated digital environment with more channels at your disposal than ever before. You're no longer limited to TV commercials, email marketing, and in-store advertising. Now, you have a myriad of social media platforms, a diverse audience, and countless opportunities to make an impact.
So how does IMC affect your content plan? It means that you should be creating a cohesive and coherent message across the board. Each of your channels should support the same objectives.
It's about telling the same story and presenting a united front. You may have unique bits and pieces to engage your audience differently, but the overarching goal is to have a unified system that enhances the customer experience and keeps everyone engaged.
Why is integrated marketing so important?
Integrated marketing campaigns have a proven track record of success. When you have so many marketing channels at your disposal, mixed messages can work against you. It all goes back to the buyer's journey and the various touchpoints potential customers need before they make a purchase or engage with your brand.
Modern consumers see an influx of ads every single day. They know how to tune them out, and most will forget about branded content almost immediately. If your content sends mixed messages, it'll get lost in the shuffle. With integrated marketing communication, the messaging is the same across the board. This approach ensures that your messaging stays at the top of your intended audiences' minds.
Integrated marketing campaigns should also take the buyer's journey into consideration by providing valuable information that could encourage a potential customer to convert. All the while, it can build brand loyalty and turn your marketing campaign into something that people will remember for years.
Just look at some of the integrated marketing success stories. Some fantastic integrated marketing examples come from juggernauts like Coca-Cola, McDonald's, Apple, Old Spice, Nike, Dove, and more. Even reading that list, images and slogans from their iconic campaigns probably came to mind, only proving what integrated marketing can do.
Creating an integrated marketing campaign
Want to start building your own integrated marketing campaign? It's not as hard as you might think. However, it does require some careful planning to pull off.
The first thing you should do is establish the "big picture" goal. What do you want the campaign to achieve? It could be anything from driving sales to simply building a solid brand identity. Whatever the case may be, plan the rest of your efforts around that goal.
Then, start building your content. It's still a smart move to segment your audience and create personalized content that everyone loves. But you should be maintaining an engaging narrative and consistency that keeps your brand recognizable. The great thing about integrated marketing is that you can reuse many of the same assets. Keep the visuals the same, and you can do a lot to cut costs moving forward.
The four principles of IMC
There are four principles of integrated marketing you need to follow. No matter which channels you use or how the campaign evolves with time, the following points are key:
This one's a no-brainer: Every piece of the puzzle should support and reinforce the bigger picture. As the saying goes, "Consistency is key!" Contradictions are the quickest way to kill your campaign, so take a step back and check for consistency whenever you can.
This doesn’t mean everything is exactly the same, always. Your messaging should evolve with your brand, and shouldn’t ignore external factors such as the political climate or technological advancements. However, you need to ensure that everything looks and feels like part of the same story.
Coherency is about having a crystal-clear message. Again, it's not about having the identical copy across all channels. But they should naturally connect to convey the same message.
With integrated marketing, you're creating content for social media, billboards, in-store advertising, and more. Can consumers look at each piece individually and know how they're all connected? Do they make sense when examined all together?
Every marketing channel should complement one another. Think of it as the different parts of an ice cream sundae. You have the ice cream itself, the chocolate topping, the banana, and of course, the sprinkles. Each one is super tasty on its own, but together they create magic!
Your channels should do the same thing with integrated marketing.
Integrated marketing campaigns can last for years. Each new content you put out should flow into the next one. Think of it as telling a story. Build on what you've done in the past and push that narrative as far as you can.
Many long-term campaigns have done this well. Some great current integrated marketing examples include those iconic insurance commercials. Flo from Progressive Insurance has an evolving storyline. The same goes for the Geico gecko! Marketing for those respective brands has featured the same character for the last 10-plus years.
Start building your own IMC
Creating an incredible integrated marketing campaign can be an exciting process. Instead of focusing on several one-off pieces, you can contribute to this growing and evolving concept. It's like a cinematic universe for content marketing!
Eventually, a good campaign can be a part of a brand's identity. Go back to the integrated marketing examples you thought about earlier. Even now, those campaigns are easy to recall. Now is your chance to develop a campaign that makes a lasting impression.