Why marketers still aren’t being as “integrated” (as we should be)
– this idea that together the various marketing disciplines will come together, and – like Captain Planet – our powers will combine to deliver business impact that goes above and beyond anything each of us would individually be capable of managing.
And yet… years into the trend of ‘integrated marketing’ – few large organisations seem to be delivering this.
Why? I think there are a few key reasons.
1. We don’t agree on key outcomes. Are our campaigns designed to target increased brand exposure? Or drive leadgen activity? When asked which is their focus, many marketers simply reply “yes” but then struggle to articulate in clear terms what proportion of their efforts should drive each activity – or how they’ll know if they’ve succeeded.
2. We don’t agree on key measures. PR teams still (sometimes) use AVE. Branding holds the keys to any macro- research, direct-marketers hold the key to leadgen data and with a few exceptions the links aren’t made to the CRM application used to drive some of the campaigns. We need an aggregated focus on business impact – be that brand, or sales, or corporate reputation, or policy, which capitalise on digital measurement tools and techniques. The goals need to be collective where possible to drive collaborative action rather than encourage isolated efforts.
3. We don’t communicate well as one multi-disciplinary team, and work in silos. Despite millions spent on corporate intranets and collaboration platforms; despite countless ‘all-hands’ meetings; despite the fact that communications is our job. There’s a difference between sharing information or even talking to your colleagues and actually communicating. Indeed, marketing teams in large firms can grow large, with specialist event, marketing, media, social media, experiential, SEO, web, product placement, brand etc., folk working separately on campaigns and not sharing sufficient generalist skills or insight. It can be hard to manage this effectively without living in meetings, but our goal has to be to share one plan, amplifying each other’s work in our own disciplines.
What needs to change to drive change here?
1. Whatever discipline we’re in, we need to expand our skillset. We need a better understanding of how ‘best practice’ integrated marketing campaigns can deliver; for example comms people need to understand how their content can support leadgen campaigns, and together they need to plan that component of the campaign alongside the media outreach and agree metrics and measurement frameworks – beyond traditional PR measures. We all need an understanding of how CRM platforms can be used to drive integration. Likewise events people need to understand how social media can drive brand exposure, and so on.
2. We need to cross-pollinate our content and conversations, and drive a collaborative planning process. There are too many ‘campaigns by rote’ in traditional B2B marketing engagement. A white paper for DM, a research-driven PR story, a customer-led event, a closed-door policy forum with political influencers. If we can align our themes, pool our resources, and take inspiration from our colleagues challenges and triumphs we will outperform. This needs to happen at the campaign inception and planning stage, with ideas shared 1-2-1 at each stage: each of us is too familiar with the request to ‘add some PR’ or ‘add an event’ component to a launch driven by another marketing discipline at the 11th hour. A truly great idea will transcend media and marketing discplines.
3. We need to find a measurement and targets framework and share targets across the team. This’ll mean that PR & marcomms share a combined target metric – whether that’s leadgen or brand exposure or website traffic, or whatever the measures end up being. It needs to fit into the workflow and systems of the organization (where there is legacy) and tie into the use of CRM, outsourced DM, etc., to limit waste and inefficiency.
Visionary leadership is crucial to delivering this – the process of encouraging the disruptive change that sees marketers moving away from protecting narrow fiefdoms and playing into a bigger whole requires revolutionary thinking, change agents that are unafraid of the implications of these changes.
If we can address these challenges; we’ll drive a culture change in the organization that will shift the paradigm for the way we operate as marketers and professional communicators, which in turn will change the way we communicate as a team. And so the all-hands meetings will start feeling more like a melting pot for ideas, and less like necessary chore, mechanically reciting our actions for the week to our colleagues.