|April 12, 2017|
You already know that we here at Wetpaint love integrated marketing and that we have a vested interest – being an integrated marketing boutique, and all – in convincing you to love it too. And, honestly, putting the hard sell aside, you should.
Utilising integrated communications is the most comprehensive method of making sure that your brand’s message reaches its audience in a manner that is consistent and coherent across all channels and platforms. Until the day advertising schools start handing out ray guns that can beam your message directly into your target audience’s heads, integrated is the way to go.
But (and there is always a ‘but’) there are difficulties inherent to integrated strategic marketing that can make or break a message, or even hurt the brand delivering it. We’d be remiss in our duty to inform if we didn’t tell you that.
These aren’t drawbacks so much as challenges that you need to think about when rolling out an integrated marketing campaign.
Integrated marketing campaigns are often advertised as ‘seamless’ amalgamations of multiple channels and platforms into one unified bullhorn, spreading cohesive brand messaging, far and wide, to wherever your audience may be found.
While this should be the case, there is a lot more that goes into the seamlessness of an integrated campaign than just willing it to be so, and sometimes people get the execution wrong.
From conceptualisation and creation, all the way to execution and upkeep, multirole marketers are a necessity, especially in a field that requires that its practitioners possess the manoeuvrability to adjust to new data, changing circumstances, and the perpetual presence of the public in a world connected by the internet.
On top of that, brand education and familiarisation have to be compulsory practice when any member of the communications team, at the drop of a hat, could be called upon to exercise public-facing, decision-making responsibility.
Not only the social media boys and girls have to maintain consistency of tone and messaging in their posts. As much of the rest of your team as possible should be able to respond to social media queries. If not, you risk consumer complaints and queries being met with the deafening silence of an unresponsive brand any time your social media manager is otherwise engaged.
In short, the appearance of seamlessness requires an in-house seamlessness of roles.
This isn’t always possible, and a well-choreographed relay race of internal roles and responsibilities can quickly devolve into a babbling game of broken telephone when the unexpected happens.
The trick to dealing with anarchy, of course, is in making sure that the chaos is contained, and that no one outside of your office catches even the vaguest hint of it.
This ties in with the above, but it is such a central concern to the modern state of marketing that we felt it deserved a heading all to itself.
Tearing down silos in your marketing department or agency has become something of a trendy concept in the industry, and for good reason: silos lead to breakdowns in communication, mixed messages reaching the audience, and wasted time due to work having to be redone regularly.
If, for example, your social media team pushes leads to your website from platforms like Twitter and Facebook, your brand would look rather foolish if your web development team is in the midst of an overhaul that leaves your visitors staring at a 401 error.
Such things are generally not considered best practice in the industry.
Integrated marketing depends on different departmental arms of the agency dovetailing their efforts to create a coherent message at every brand contact point. That these messages remain consistent is of utmost importance, not least because the effect of each channel and platform in an integrated campaign should be to enhance the effectiveness of the others.
That might seem like an unrealistic oversight, but when the integration of your organisation begins to lapse, things like that can and do happen.
Unfortunately, identifying siloes before they do damage is no mean feat, and resolution of the issue is something that agencies and businesses around the world struggle with on a daily basis.
In our experience, the best way to deal with the inevitable siloes that will form like blisters on the otherwise silky smooth skin of your workflow processes is to acknowledge the reality of them. Engage in a regular upkeep of your company culture, and consistently force open the lines of communication through meetings, team-building exercises, and other activities aimed at pulling the team together.
As alluded to above, the modern integrated marketer is a well-rounded generalist that can engage in brand communication and promotion at multiple levels, and has his/her fingers in multiple disciplinary pies.
Your social media manager might be a designer on the side, optimising his/her content production potential and efficiency. Your content writer might also be a skilled SEO, allowing your brand’s digital copy to appease both the search engines and the human audience.
The thing is, though, that even a Jack-of-all-trades might be the master of one, and mobilising a team of generalists to agilely respond to each and every brand need should not necessitate sacrificing an individual’s more specialised skillset.
Your clients’ or your own brand will benefit from the quality of work that comes from identifying and developing areas of strength in the individual members of your team. Enhance those strengths with relevant supporting skills, and you’ll have a team of generalised specialists, each shining in certain roles even while their colleagues’ own secondary skills can ease the pressure of indispensability.
The point here isn’t to pigeonhole your people, but rather to understand them, and empower them through the augmentation and realisation of their potential.
If there’s a common theme running through this cautionary piece, it’s that communication is key. As the head of your agency or department, you have to be in constant communication with your team, as well as with the parallel arms of your agency, so that the left hand always knows what the right hand is doing.
You cannot allow the avenues of communication within your team, or those that connect your team with its fellows, to disintegrate.
Ultimately, your entire department or agency should be one team, simultaneously working together and apart to achieve a common goal and speak with one voice.
For us at Wetpaint, maintaining internal and external integration is a challenge whose rewards are more than worth the trials and tribulations.
To find out more about our approach to integrated marketing, or to employ our experienced services, please don’t hesitate to contact us.