Three Ways to Know If Your Marketing Is Truly Integrated (and One Big Caveat)

Andrew Stantenby Andrew Stanten

Scott Adams, the genius creator of Dilbert, made a killing by driving home the idiocy of the disconnect between business objectives, management and engineering. Unfortunately, many businesses continue to treat their marketing in the same way: disjointed, isolated, reactive, inefficient and ineffective.

Integrated marketing requires taking a big-picture approach to goals, objectives and budget. It requires you to examine everything – public relations, advertising, thought leadership, digital advertising, website, tradeshows, in-store, customer service, community relations, social media – and map out how they all tie together to increase efficiency, reduce costs and improve the effectiveness of your marketing.

We’ve been preaching the benefits of integrated marketing since Altitude was launched. While it wasn’t a new concept in 2004, few businesses embraced it. Today, more companies understand the concept, and believe they practice it, but often come up short.

How do you know if you marketing is truly integrated? Take these simple tests.

1. Is your visual identity consistent?

Visual identity is far more than your logo. It entails having a common overarching design (“look and feel”), style of photography and graphics, consistent logo treatment, common colors and fonts. This doesn’t mean everything has to look the same – designs are functional and should match the media. But everything should definitely look as it if came from the same family. A person reading an e-newsletter or brochure should see an immediate visual connection when visiting the website.

We recently completed an in-depth review of current marketing materials for a new client. We found at least six different versions of the logo in use. Five different pieces of collateral made use of three entirely different color families. Two different fonts were being used for the name, and the relative font size and letter spacing differed between the logo variations. These may sound nitpicky, but taken in aggregate, the inconsistencies lent an air of unprofessionalism and lack of polish onto a company that was selling a higher-end experience. This mixed message is confusing to prospects and customers.

An inconsistent brand image is confusing to prospects and customers.

Try this test: Print out a sampling of your digital collateral (home page, banner ad, email template) and grab samples of your print collateral (brochure, print ads, business card, trade show banners). Lay it all out on a conference table. Block out your logo. Do you still know you are looking at materials from the same company? If so, you’ve cleared the first hurdle in integrating your marketing.

2. Is your messaging consistent?

You shouldn’t have to rethink your brand messaging every time you need to write a sales letter, update a PowerPoint, add the boilerplate to a press release or run an advertisement. Effective brand messaging is focused on differentiators: Why should someone purchase your products and/or services and not a competitor’s? We always recommend that company leaders remove the internal blinders by asking their customers what makes the product/service special — and then carry these core themes throughout all marketing efforts.

Again, try a test: Grab text from your home page, “About Us” page, sales letters, press release boilerplate — any creative materials your company has produced in the past two years. Remove any references to the company name. Can you still tell that you’re looking at materials from the same company? Is the tone similar throughout? Is there consistent nomenclature when it comes to identifying sub-brands and different products? If so, you’ve cleared the second hurdle of integrating your marketing efforts.

3. Do your promotional efforts reinforce each other and tie to a central place?

The first two tests focused on the “View from 30,000 Feet” — the foundational elements of your marketing program. Now, we need to dip down to 10,000 feet and see if you are strategically integrating your tactics.

A new client had an extensive database of mailing addresses for contacts and prospects but few email addresses. Thus, our primary method of outreach needed to be direct mail – an ineffective strategy sometimes, but not when part of a truly integrated approach.

The creative process for outreach efforts began — not with overly clever concepts for the direct mailer itself — but with storyboards for a series of short videos and drafts of several key case studies. Only after those were finished did we develop the direct mail piece, which was designed to drive traffic to a special web landing page containing the completed videos and case studies, written with messaging tailored to their pain points. The mailer was sent before, during and after a key industry trade show. The web page included a contact form with an incentive to download a valuable white paper so the company could begin beefing up its email address list.

That’s integrated marketing.

A final word on measuring effectiveness

Truly integrated marketing requires fewer metrics on granular effectiveness than traditional standalone campaigns. Don’t get me wrong – I’m a huge fan of accountability and measurement. But an integrated marketing strategy is judged on broader metrics – total leads gathered, appointments booked, purchases made.

It’s pointless to try to point to a specific piece of the marketing puzzle as “the reason” for capturing a lead. The true proof of the effectiveness of an integrated marketing campaign – the metric that really matters – is the bottom line.

When your marketing is truly integrated, you gain the ability to influence key decision-makers many times, through different media, at the times and the places they are most likely to engage.

A client recently complained that tradeshow speaking engagements were “wasting his time” because new leads didn’t point to his appearances as their reason for contacting his company. What he didn’t fully comprehend was that his presentations were one part of a much larger whole. His talks gave him industry authority and got the company name out there. Meanwhile, a strong tradeshow booth, regular thought leadership blogging and good old-fashioned PR and advertising were doing their thing. The net result? New leads are coming in faster than ever before.

It’s pointless to try to point to a specific piece of the marketing puzzle as “the reason” for capturing a lead. The true proof of the effectiveness of an integrated marketing campaign – the metric that really matters – is the bottom line.


  • http://tinyurl.com/pinebrien22765 http://tinyurl.com/pinebrien22765

    “Three Ways to Know if Your Marketing is Truly
    Integrated” was certainly engaging and helpful! In todays
    universe honestly, that is very hard to carry out. I am grateful, Hayley

    • Andrew Stanten

      Hayley, thanks for the props! The process of integrated marketing becomes a lot less daunting when you start with the plan. Start with objectives, audiences and budgets. That is the what, who and (part of the) how. From there, the pieces of the puzzle become a lot more clear.