If you have been paying any attention at all the business world of late, you have doubtlessly come across the term “integrated marketing.” In fact, on the day I write thism a search just on Google News for “integrated marketing” enclosed in quotes returns no less than 5410 results. Just within Google News! It’s the hot new buzzword that is all the rage in the business world. But what exactly makes adopting an integrated marketing strategy so great? What does it all mean, anyway?
Integrated marketing strategy is a methodology by which all the main components of promotion are integrated into the single package. That single integrated package of marketing strategy just so already happens to be one that many consumers just naturally assume is the way big companies already go about doing things. Those outside the business world rarely stop to consider the possibility that those in charge of advertising their favorite product may could actually have absolutely nothing to do with the promotion and sales of that product. Sales, promotion, advertising…to the untrained eye they are all as one. In other words, many in the business world are just now catching up to the fact that consumers have unknowingly been way ahead of them all along.
Those actually in the business of advertising, promoting, selling and public relations have traditionally looked at things very differently. The move toward integrated marketing strategy that makes reality of the longstanding myth assumed by consumers has not yet been universally adopted, but it’s only a matter of time before the old divisions disappear completely. That disappearance should roughly coincide with the death of the last of the old school marketing dinosaurs more committed to hierarchical organizational strategy than they are to their wives. Before you cast off the past and become a part of the new establishment, there are some essential things you need to know about the reality of utilizing an integrated marketing strategy.
The tradition of sales begins with a product around which a marketing strategy is developed that will appeal to customers. The integrated approach works in reverse. You must first get a handle on what the consumer wants or needs and then you devise a comprehensive strategy to include every conceivable means of satisfying those wants or needs. One of the great secrets of advertising that still somehow manages not to be completely apprehended by the masses is that product promotion has always had two equally important goals: selling the goods and services and controlling consumer behavior. Integrated marketing has flipped the value of these goals so that controlling behavior trumps actual salesmanship. Through the use of integrated marketing techniques, the ability of a company to create, modify or reinforce consumer behavior has significantly increased. How? By developing a marketing strategy that dedicated to the transmission of information that is about the consumer more than it is about the product.
So what was the appeal of separating these divisions of labor for the old school traditionalists ? Different reasons, but as you might expect the move toward universal adoption of integrating marketing strategies has been slowed because of the unwillingness to threaten profits. See, it takes a lot more money to pay for a marketing or promotion division within a company than it does to outsource those skills. Lots of reason why even some really big corporations are only now adopting an integrated marketing strategy. But among those reasons are that integration means paying more employees which means enjoying fewer profits.
At least until a company gets it right.