Essentials for Integrated Marketing - AdAge

As More Power Shifts to Consumers, Need Grows for Common Metric and 'Renaissance Marketers'

By Bob Liodice

Published: June 09, 2008

Integrated marketing communications isn't new, but it's gaining momentum as power shifts from the marketer to the consumer and as marketers recognize the power and efficiency of taking a holistic approach to engaging consumers.

Several studies, including one recently conducted by the Association of National Advertisers, indicate that achieving effective IMC campaigns is marketers' primary concern. But there is considerable uncertainty about how to staff, design, manage and measure the success of such programs.

Although 74% of firms we've surveyed say they are using IMC approaches for most or all of their brands, only 25% rated the quality of their IMC programs "excellent" or "very good" -- underscoring the need to identify best practices and address the barriers that can impede IMC efforts, including a lack of strategic consistency across communications disciplines; the absence of a common IMC measurement process; the existence of entrenched functional silos inside marketing organizations, as well as within their agency partners; and the dearth of cross-discipline skill sets among marketing staff.

So what it will take to overcome these obstacles?

    An IMC campaign should start with a compelling consumer insight that can be translated into a strong, differentiated marketing strategy. This leads to the development of a creative "brand idea" that drives each discipline's tactics. For many brands, however, a very different process typically takes place. Each discipline articulates its own strategy and develops its own brand ideas, which, executed independently, fail to deliver the exponential power that's possible with a strategically integrated campaign.
    Traditionally, each marketing vertical uses its own measurement protocols. Vertical or function-specific measurements are useful, but we need to go further. Although organizations have become more skilled in crunching numbers, there is no single, consistent set of metrics that transcends discipline-centric measurements.

In a recent article in Ad Age, Jack Neff noted the "new opacity" arising from having a multitude of information but no common way to process it. The lack of a standard measuring process is one of the most serious integrated-marketing challenges.

ANA marketers are finding new ways to overcome this impediment and working to create a new, more comprehensive cross-functional approach. Advances in marketing-mix modeling make it especially useful in today's multichannel marketplace because such models can isolate the effects of individual elements -- even when they appear to be working in concert. This new thinking requires flexibility, creativity and a willingness to change.

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