What is Integrated Marketing? (Our 9-step Approach)

What do you mean by integrated marketing?

A new client asked me this the other week. He’s a smart guy with a lot of experience, so I paused to try to give him a more thoughtful answer rather than just barfing out a definition gathered from Wikipedia (of which there are at least three).

In my mind, integrated marketing is a consistent, intertwined message across different:

  • Media
  • Distribution channels
  • Product lines
  • Current customers and prospects

Integrated marketing is also closed-loop marketing. That is, all the advertising and messaging we put out into the marketplace needs to be measured, evaluated, and tweaked constantly to optimize effectiveness.

Not complicated — just hard.

Integrated marketing isn’t complicated — just hard. There are a lot of moving parts, and it requires some planning. It helps to break down the process into steps:

Integrated marketing: A 9-step approach

Step 1: Distill your message well.

Step 2: Define your audience.

Example: Technical salespeople who work for global technology companies

Step 3: Define and develop the appropriate core content.

Example: An educational presentation on utilizing your product to increase productivity and make you more attractive to the opposite sex.

Step 4: Identify additional media assets that can easily assist in communicating the content effectively over various channels.

Example: Video of the presentation, a live webinar experience, a short e-book or whitepaper that summarizes this info, a top-ten/best practices list of main takeaways

Step 5: Examine all of your potential distribution methods and choose the most cost-effective channels.

Example: “Organic” social media, paid Twitter Cards, Sponsored LinkedIn Posts, direct mail offer, opt-in email offer, an article in the newsletter, Adwords, retargeting banners to unconverted website visitors

Step 6: Package your message and your content in the most appropriate way for each distribution channel.

Example: A SlideShare presentation promoted through social media; long form copy promoted through a promoted LinkedIn post; ebook pushed by Twitter Cards; webinar advertised by email; video placed across corporate web assets, etc.

Step 7: Publish, push, MEASURE, analyze.

Step 8: Evaluate data from Step 7 to influence your next iteration, and keep optimizing.

Step 9: Implement Steps 2-8 for a new audience (including current customers) until you run out of appropriate audiences.

Start small to think big.

It’s easy to become overwhelmed by all of the possible combinations of strategies, potential media, and iterations when embarking on integrated media planning for the first time. Don’t try to hit everything at once. Start by considering your team’s specific skill sets and the kinds of media that have gotten results for you in the past.

Once you’ve settled on a strategy and formed a loose plan, then you can get your team thinking about other things like:

  • Where else could we use this asset?
  • How else might we repackage this creative?

You’re not perfect. That’s OK.

There will be the campaigns that come up quick and get fired out the door without you having covered every effective media outlet possible. Just focus on hitting hard where you’ve chosen to land.

Rich Quarles

Rich Quarles

Rich is a marketing strategist focused primarily on startups, technology, and financial services. He has advised startups that have collectively returned almost $2 billion to founders and investors. Rich founded glassCanopy in 2001.
Rich Quarles

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