Here we are on letter I of the marketing myth series, and we’re going to talk about what integrated marketing means. Now, often times you’ll see folks talking on social media sites about how it’s important to make sure your different social media efforts are “integrated.” They’ll note that it’s important to integrate your blog with your Facebook page. They might note that it’s important to integrate your Twitter presence with your blog and your Facebook page. This advice isn’t wrong, although I think it might be behind a lot of efforts to automatically import tweets into Facebook and the like. But this is actually NOT what integrated marketing is all about.
First, let’s take a look at how our good friend Wikipedia defines integrated marketing:
Integrated Marketing Communications (IMC) is defined as customer centric, data driven method of communicating with the customers. IMC is the coordination and integration of all marketing communication tools, avenues, functions and sources within a company into a seamless program that maximizes the impact on consumers and other end users at a minimal cost. This management concept is designed to make all aspects of marketing communication such as advertising, sales promotion, public relations, and direct marketing work together as a unified force, rather than permitting each to work in isolation.
Now, the concept of “customer-centric” is one that you don’t see bandied about much in the world of social media, so let’s talk a bit about that too. The awesome Beth Harte, whom I was fortunate to meet on Twitter early on in my social media career, offers this excellent definition:
Integrated marketing communications is about connecting with, listening to, understanding, and analyzing (communications) customers and delivering (marketing, product development, operations) on their needs and wants, hopefully in a meaningful way that serves both the customer and organizational goals. Perhaps that seems overly simple, but really, it should be that simple.
You should really read her full post from where I pulled that quote.
So what does this all mean? Well, it’s hard to narrow it all down into nice Twitterable lingo. But the bottom line is that the current buzzword – “Social Business,” is not too far off from what Integrated Marketing Communications has always been about. Your communications across the board, from advertising to booth graphics to social media to the balloons you send up at your party should all give the same line of thinking, it should all be about your customer, and there absolutely should not be any silos.
Why are we not talking about this?
If Social Business as a concept is getting a lot of attention, how come we still see so much ignorance or mythological thinking surrounding Integrated Marketing? Well, one potential answer is that the social media world has really painted itself into a corner. Take, for example, Dave Kerpen’s Likeable Media, which I recently read and reviewed. It’s a great book so far as its social media guidance is concerned, but throughout the book, a very black-and-white scenario is established. You can do social media. You can do traditional marketing. There is no real evaluation on how you could make all of it work for you.
This is pretty typical wherever you travel in the world of social media. Traditional marketing, be it email marketing, direct mail, print advertising, radio, television – all of that is sort of scoffed at in the face of all of this new “social media stuff.”
That’s a real shame.
The other problem may be that a lot of people became “marketers” (the new way we sort of define this word) with the onslaught of social media. They did not have a lot of marketing experience before Twitter started to catch fire. Therefore, they do not have a lot of experience with other forms of marketing, and hence they can’t really properly talk about it. So, as humans do, they focus on what they are good at and exclude the stuff they’re kind of weak on.
Or maybe there is another explanation I’m unaware of (I’m open to suggestions).
The sad thing
Here’s the really sad part about this increasingly common new “definition” of integrated marketing – it’s preventing companies/marketers from trying some pretty cool things. There are now entirely new ways to eliminate silos in your company, learn from your customers, and carry your message from platform to platform. You can develop products based on what your customers are actually saying and then speak to them through different mediums based on how you KNOW they want to be talked to. A press release can now link you to a YouTube video. An ad can suggest that input can be offered on the Facebook page. The possibilities are limitless. But we are missing opportunities to expand marketing as we force people to choose between “old” and “new.”
Do you agree? I’d love to hear your thoughts!
Image Credit: http://www.flickr.com/photos/syoung/3955230375/ via Creative Commons