Dispel the Myths in Integrated Marketing: Mission Possible in 2020
The article has been co-authored by Stephanie Geiger, Co-Founder of Government Marketing University.
Integrated marketing is long heralded as a unifying marketing communications approach that ties together advertising, public relations, and social media to deliver a seamless and consistent brand and customer-centric experience. Today’s marketers find themselves in an increasingly complex and competitive environment. With a dizzying number of markets, channels, tactics, and technologies, creating and excelling in that desired state can seem daunting.
So why aren’t more marketers chasing the brass ring?
We’ll explore what’s holding marketers back, dispel myths and discuss practical ways to make integrated marketing work for you, even with scarce resources. Before we dive into some best practices to consider before executing your next integrated marketing campaign, we’re going to uncover misperceptions that may be holding marketers back from realizing the full potential of integrated marketing.
Separating Truth from Fiction
Long-held beliefs have a tendency to influence attitudes and behaviors, making it hard for new ideas. Marketing is no different. Integrated marketing isn’t mission impossible, an academic exercise or out of reach. Below are a few common myths that need busting:
MYTH: Integrated marketing requires a big [fill in the blank].
You don’t need a six-figure budget, a 20-person team or a graduate degree in integrated marketing to make an impact. Think strategic and surgical. Pull on the appropriate marketing levers to hyper-target the key influencers with the right message at the right time and place.
For example, take an account-based marketing (ABM) approach and focus on your top three high-value targets. Or think of a “rolling thunder” approach with quarterly campaigns that include elements of brand awareness, lead-generation, digital media, and virtual events in close coordination with the sales team and C-suite.
MYTH: In-person events are the only way to go for sales.
Some 80-85% of budgets are allocated to field marketing. These events and trade shows can be a great place to build relationships with key people, but this type of “easy-button” marketing alone isn’t strategic and certainly won’t suffice in a post-pandemic Low Touch Economy.
While it’s previously been commonplace for virtual events to have a no-show rate of 70%, we’re seeing that those with strong, timely content and sought-out speakers have seen no-show rates as low as 30% during COVID-19. But think how your target audiences’ lives have been impacted. Perhaps a timely whitepaper or strategically-placed media article of your company providing thought leadership in a meaningful and authentic way is a better approach.
MYTH: Sales has the best hold on the customer.
While at one time sales had the closest read on the customer, customer experience is now (or should be) a priority for forward-leaning, customer-centric companies and marketers alike. The old adage of “know thy customer” stands true. With information more accessible, it’s known that more than 70% of buying decisions are influenced well before sales steps into the picture. This means the opportunity for marketers to shape and bring value to the buyer’s journey is greater than ever before. Use data-driven marketing to gain customer insights.
Rules of an Integrated Marketing Mindset
No matter the industry, size, or sector, companies are historically sales driven. Sales and marketing can often be at odds with each other, as their job functions are intrinsically different but equally important and complementary. They share more in common and ultimately want the same outcome. Integrated marketing presents an untapped opportunity for sales and marketing teams to collaborate.
The first rule is to have an integrated marketing mindset. This means take a strategic approach, consider the full toolkit of marketing tactics and scale as appropriate. The hammer shouldn’t be the fix-it tool for all problems. Be mindful of what each tactic is best suited for each campaign and how to measure success to know which levers are best to pull in certain situations.
For example, the public sector market or “Fortune One” is often mistaken — to the detriment of some companies’ sales goals — as just another enterprise vertical. Seasoned government marketers know it is one of the most complex marketplaces and that trust, credibility, customer service and expertise are most valued by government decision makers. While it can be overwhelming, consider diversifying your marketing budget.
Second, experiment, fail fast and move on. Don’t let self-doubt or limited experience, time or resources hold you back. Integrated marketing is possible. Don’t be intimidated. It works, makes your job easier, enables you to be more effective and leads to repeatable process-driven marketing with better results. One mistake marketers often make is only relying on their internal team or a single vendor for marketing support. Understand which resources have the best capabilities for services you need. Ensure diversity and mix in marketing plans by having freelancers or agencies with “swim lanes” for areas such as creative, marketing, advertising, events, and PR to challenge the status quo and regularly bring fresh ideas.
Last, but not least, stay educated. Marketing is constantly changing but the one constant is the focus on the customer experience. Now more than ever, modern marketers are challenged to push out of their comfort zone and pivot strategies. No matter where you are in your career, seek out industry-specific marketing communities like Government Marketing University for professional development, networking and knowledge sharing.
Let’s Get Integrated!
The benefits of integrated marketing don’t stop at bridging marketing and sales, improving the topline numbers, building brand equity and elevating valuation. With a data-driven strategy as the compass, integrated marketing has the potential to integrate organizations at all levels. With educated brand champions aligned vertically and horizontally, the possibilities are limitless.