The Oxford Dictionary of Marketing defines Integrated Marketing as:
An approach that influences transactions between an organisation and its existing or potential customers, clients and other consumers connecting all marketing channels. Integrated marketing is more of a marketing management approach than a different type of marketing. The focus of integrated marketing is to ensure that all communications, the brand’s positioning, propositions, reputation development, brand personality and brand messages are delivered coherently and with impact across every channel. This means a holistic approach to marketing communication including PR and internal marketing. This is necessary because of the fragmentation and globalisation of media channels. It may also mean a move away from mass advertising to a more targeted approach where a similar message would repeat across channels.
To achieve integrated marketing communications you need strategic focus. That means:
- Measuring the effectiveness of marketing communications;
- The growth and increased visibility of the corporate identity, status and reputation;
- Corporate governance and ethical behaviour.
A strategic role of the brand is required given the need to add value and differentiate your organisation in the market. You need to understand how your entire organisation communicates not just the role of the marketing department. You need to know the impact that such communication will have. Communications must be managed at all levels of an organisation and you must commit to that management function. Communication is everyone in the organisation’s concern: It isn’t a matter solely for the marketing department. You need professional communicators across your organisation not just tucked away in a management silo.
Communications can be seen at three levels:
- Strategic External Integrated Marketing Communications: Top level communications promoting the organisational vision and values, corporate objectives and Corporate Strategies. Strategic communications to build reputation, image and brand.
- Internal Marketing Communications: Communication across your organisation involving all business functions including HR, Finance, Productions, R & D, etc. Internal behaviours aligned to organisational goals.
- Tactical External Integrated Marketing Communications: Communications to ‘push your products through the supply chain and to increase customer demand (‘pull’ communications). Communications intended to promote goods and services provided by your organisation.
A major issue with integrated communications is that people are different. We all have different views and we perceive the world differently. Particularly in service industries these differences matter. So you need to ensure a consistency of customer experience.
What really matters is communication consistency not difference. If fact difference could be an asset. However, if your communications and customer experience of them is inconsistent you have a big problem. If a single customer can experience good, bad or indifferent communication experiences with your organisation, you may lose not just one customer but many. your customers and prospective customers talk to each other; particularly in these days of social media. Word of mouth means one customer’s perceived bad experience can be used to persuade many other potential customers to avoid your business.