28 Jan 2015

Magnify your marketing!

Lucia Di Stazio, Director of MRA Marketing says most marketing is only partially aligned. But done properly, integrating your marketing – joining all parts of the mix so they reinforce each other - and synchronising your timing transforms the result. 

It’s an exaggeration to say everyone’s talking about integrated marketing. But, if you’re talking about marketing or improving the effectiveness of your marketing, chances are someone will have suggested integrating it. But what is integrated marketing and how can it help your business?

Integrated marketing aligns and integrates the elements of the marketing mix. So, advertising, PR, direct marketing, e-marketing and online, promotion and social media all point in the same direction. And they march in step to the marketer’s drum. It’s harder than it sounds. Most marketing is only partially aligned. But done properly, integrating your marketing – joining all parts of the mix so they reinforce each other – and synchronising your timing transforms the result.

We learned about synchronisation when London’s Millennium Bridge opened in 2000. Thousands stepped on to the bridge and unconsciously synchronised their footsteps to counteract the slight sway of the suspension bridge. In doing so they set up a feedback loop, in which the more they tried to compensate for the sway the more energy they imparted to the sideways movement, and the bridge swayed even more. The more energy that’s imparted the bigger the effect. Too much, and the bridge will collapse. In this case, it turned out that the natural resonant frequency of the bridge closely matched the average person’s walking step. The Wobbly Bridge, as it became known, was closed and reopened in 2002 fitted with dampeners which prevented the effect. It was a useful reminder of the awesome power of synchronisation and feedback loops, both negative and positive.

The trick to getting integrated marketing right is not, as some believe, to be uniformly the same. It’s a common mistake to assume that builders, and consumers, think, feel and behave the same in different environments. They don’t. So it would be equally misguided to think that an integrated campaign has to be rigidly uniform – same idea, execution and design – across all platforms. What works on outdoor posters, POS, direct mail or radio won’t necessarily translate well on Twitter or Vine for example. Not because it’s a bad idea, but because people engage with each of these channels in distinctly different ways. So you have to adapt your message and its delivery according to where and how your customers encounter it. It’s a bit like an orchestra. Each of the instruments that make up a symphony is different but together they make one harmonious whole.

What’s important is that your message stays clear, compelling and consistent no matter where it appears. Apple is brilliant at this. It consistently communicates one clear message: ‘no gimmicks’. For them, ‘less is more’ and they translate this approach across all aspects of their brand. It’s testament to how effective it is that you instantly know from the packaging, the look and the language who it’s from, even if you don’t see the logo or Apple name.

For the marketing manager with a clutch of marketing channels to choose from and a marketing budget significantly less than Apple’s, devising an integrated marketing programme can be a challenge. But there is – as Apple and some other brands are proving – a knack to it. And the effect is to magnify their marketing without magnifying the cost. Integrated marketing, marketing2 or M2, is marketing to the power of two.

Agree? Disagree? Need help integrating your marketing? Tweet @wehelp_you_grow or @MRAMarketing or contact me or MRA’s Business Development Manager Tom Rigby on 01453 521621 or tom@mra-marketing.com.

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