Does “Integrated Marketing Campaign” = heartburn?

What is an “Integrated Marketing Campaign”, really? Believe it or not, this is a very common question. From an academic sense, those three words are easily understandable. But from an operational sense, it evokes spasms of acid reflux (i.e. heartburn). I’m pretty sure you know what I’m talking about.

Let’s take these words one at a time, starting from the end and working forward:

“Campaign”  Now when I say campaign, with a capital C, I’m talking about a major undertaking. Perhaps an initiative sponsored by a company executive. If I were a military general, my “Campaign” would equate to “what hill I want my troops to take.” Troops, I don’t care how we take that hill, but by the end of the day I want to own it! Therefore, I mean a “Campaign” to be an important undertaking that directly relates to achieving a corporate objective.

Examples: troops, we must . . .

  • Grow marketshare by 50% by establishing a presence in Europe by 2014
  • Grow revenue by 20% by stealing customers from competitor X during the holiday season
  • Improve our renewal rate by 75% by this time next year
  • Upgrade 45% of existing customers to our new platform by end of next year
These are “Campaigns” because they specify goals, a top-line metric, and a timeframe. By contrast, “Google Adwords” is not a campaign (although some sales force automation tools will call it one).

“Marketing” What is marketing, really? Marketing has a sole purpose, and that is to help sales sell. (OK, sales people sit down!) To that end, seasoned marketers are in the perfect position to not only see ways to help sales reps win short-term sales, but they are the only ones in the company capable of investigating and articulating patterns in the broader market and customer trends — patterns and trends that may change at any time (and often do). Therefore, marketing refers to the optimum marcom mix that can be used today to engage prospects and customers, but it also refers to the marketing strategy that feeds the product roadmap and tomorrow’s optimum mix.

“Integrated”  This is the word that throws the most people and causes the heartburn. Integrated means that all the pieces of the marketing puzzle fit together in a logic, planned sequence. It means that the press release hits before the ad is released. It means that there is consistency in the story you tell on your website and the elevator pitch used by sales. A 42-slide Powerpoint deck consisting of random slides thrown together at the last minute for a presentation at a quarterly sales meeting is not an integrated marketing plan. The copy for a single brochure does not make an integrated plan. Product managers working alone cannot build or execute an integrated plan. “Integration” requires a team-based approach that starts with understanding target personas, focusing positioning statements, and crafting messages that are relevant and meaningful to your personas.

These three words are easy to say, but hard to do. So, why do we care? Because your competitors are figuring this stuff out and investing in their teams to help improve their professional and political skills. Ignoring the problem won’t relieve your heartburn. Prolisec and Zantec will help ease the symptoms. But, the only cure is to tackle it head-on and promote these marketing best practices internally.

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