Integrated marketing is not about the creative work

Marketers love shorthand, jargon and code. But sometimes shorthand shortchanges reality.

Everyone assumes “integrated marketing” means a campaign that uses the same creative concept across multiple media channels. But is that really the most effective, holistic approach?

As a marketer focused on accountability in both the digital and physical worlds, I would argue that creative concepts may not translate well from medium to medium. What is far more important is to showcase your offer in the most effective way possible in any particular medium.

For example, a mobile website can give you more room to develop a narrative than a search engine marketing ad but both can offer the same coupon or discount, white paper or webinar. Your TV commercial can be uploaded to YouTube, but it would take a completely different kind of campaign – likely involving Twitter, Facebook and other social media – to get people to go watch it.  

Our agency has several insurance providers as clients. Some of their most heavily marketed products are Medicare programs. Often, because Medicare is generally very confusing, their best lead-generating  offer turns out to be an information offer. Our offer is the same across all kinds of media, from online display, search, e-mail, DRTV, outdoor boards, mail, newspaper and more. The creative concept isn’t necessarily the same at all between these different media. Of course, there may be similarities in branding, colors and type treatment. But sometimes even those things don’t translate well across different media.

Two other important ideas for a truly integrated marketing campaign are testing and media optimization.

We have always taken a data-driven approach that focuses on identifying and developing a strategy using the right combination of online and offline channels to get measurable results. We have a deep understanding of how and where our target market consumes different types of media.

Yet it’s always important to continue to test in a changing marketplace. What worked yesterday may start to fail today and become virtually useless tomorrow.

We have also been successful in optimizing media on the fly. We can begin a DRTV or e-mail campaign, learn what’s working where, and change tactics before the campaign is over. Some of what we learn can even be translated to other integrated media in the campaign.

All of this takes work. It would be a lot easier to say, “Everything needs to look alike,” and be done with our integrated campaign.

Spyro Kourtis, CEO and president of Hacker Group, has more than 20 years of direct and digital marketing experience.

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