It must be hard being a consumer today. Whether they’re trying to buy a lipstick or a loo roll, a car or a carrot, the marketplace is flooded with brands, companies and offers all screaming to be bought. Every day, more than 5,000 marketing messages are reaching the eyes and ears of every single one of the nation’s shoppers, vying for their attention in increasingly clever ways. Making your brand stand out among all this chaos is a tough job, but with some thought, it can be done.

Those who throw money at marketing like to make noise. They shout at consumers from emails, texts, web banners and more. And like the whiny kid in the supermarket, they may end up getting their packet of sweets, but with a lot of bad feeling wrapped up in it too.

Those who are too polite just don’t get heard at all. You know who they are; that company who sends you like one email newsletter a year, snivelling and grovelling for you not to hate them for asking for repeat business.

Then there are those who make just enough noise, but say so many different things to you, you just end up plain confused. You know you hear from them a lot, but you can’t for the life of you remember their strapline. Or their logo. Or indeed what you’d buy from them at all.

These types of companies need more integration in their life. Look at Nike, for instance. For decades, the ‘Just Do It’ strapline has remained consistent across every single message they put out, and it speaks just as strongly to the fitness focussed millennials of today as it did to the basketball playing street kids of the 1980’s. They spent just enough; they shouted just loud enough; but more importantly, they always said the same thing.

What do we mean by integrated marketing?

When we talk about integrated marketing we are taking about consistency. We want to achieve a similar output and a complementary message at every customer touch point, whether online, offline, at home or mobile. As a specialist B2B integrated agency, we look at several specific areas in order to do this:

Branding: At the heart of everything about integration is the brand itself. Any good marketing campaign will hold your brand identity close to its heart, informing your messaging, guiding your research and helping you speak to your audience in a voice they can trust and understand.

Research: Strategic thinking driven by solid, informative research, is the backbone of effective integrated marketing. Getting to know who your audience is, what they want, and how they want to feel about your services or products is a crucial step in this process.

The message: One important difference between a truly integrated marketing campaign and a single use one is that an integrated approach will hold a message the resonates deeply with your audience. It should almost overlook the products themselves, instead focussing on what creates an emotional connection with the audience, and can help to send a message of beliefs and personal benefits, not just the technical features.

We’ll look at all channels, from content management to social media, advertising to blogrolls, and see where there are mixed messages and a lack of consistency. We look at tone of voice, visual branding and core messages, seeing where there is opportunity to create more uniformity. When all these elements start to work in harmony together, the result can be a powerful, exciting marketing tool that will propel your brand to new heights.

Think again about Nike. When they do any marketing, whether it’s TV, YouTube prerolls, static banners or event sponsorship, you know what you’re going to get. There’s the ‘swoosh’, every single time. And that strapline, ‘Just Do It’, Every. Single. Time.

They don’t blather on about the technical excellence of their shoes or clothes; instead, we see emotive images of people jumping, running, achieving. The artistic direction and accompanying music brings us back to our own goals, our own ambitions and our motivation to achieve. We feel personally empowered by the advertising, and in our minds, the Nike brand is intrinsically linked with achievement, inspiration and drive.

That’s integrated marketing done right.

So, why should we bother?

Integration can be tough. It requires new thinking, new consistency and a more ‘together’ attitude to marketing on all platforms. So, why should we make the effort to get into all this, when it’s so tough and much easier to continue our disparate marketing campaigns as they are?

Well, we’ll discuss all the benefits of integrated marketing in a moment, but before we do, let’s look at what our customers want. After all, isn’t fulfilling our customers wishes all part of the job?

In the My Buys / e-tailing group’s Annual Consumer Insights Survey, the disparity between what our customers want and what we’re actually giving them was made profoundly clear. Respondents to the survey rated ‘consistency’ as one of the most important elements to make them feel loyal to a brand, with 85 per cent stating that having a consistent shopping experience from the website to the store was either very or somewhat important.

Similarly, 72 per cent of respondents felt that any marketing collateral should be consistently presented from the web to the store to the mobile or PC at all times. How many brands are actually meeting these needs? Not enough.

Around 50 per cent of brands strive to ensure a consistent shopping experience from web to store, a gap of 41 per cent between needs and provision. Only 39 per cent of brands are ensuring consistency of marketing collateral, leaving a gap of 46 per cent between needs and provision. These gaps serve to create frustration among consumers, who are looking for something that just isn’t there. But for brands who are prepared to make the effort, these gaps are ready to be filled, and to put them well ahead of the competition.

Let’s take a closer look at the pros and cons of integrated marketing, so we can understand just what we’re getting ourselves into here.

Pros of integrated marketing

As a B2B integrated agency ourselves, we could go on, and on, and on, about the benefits of integrated marketing. But in the interest of brevity, we’ve picked just a few of the top pros to share with you here:

You’ll develop more trust: Consistent reliability and reliable consistency helps your customers get to know and to trust you.

Your brand will be more easily recognised: Looking the same way, speaking the same way and giving the same clear message at every touch point is guaranteed to help customers recognise you faster and more easily.

The message becomes concentrated: Instead of diluting your message by opting for a scattergun approach, you’ll be focussing it and concentrating its effects, both on your customers and internally within your organisation too.

Your budget goes further: When everyone from your SEO genius to your social media manager is focussed on the same message and end goal, things get cheaper. Duplicated efforts are less likely, transactional costs are minimised through standardised branding and promotional collateral, and design and print costs will benefit from being scaled up.

You’ll make more money: There are plenty of case studies out there which show a direct benefit to revenue from integrated customer journeys. In fact, in some cases, integrated marketing has been shown to produce double the sales value year on year.

It’s what your customer’s want: As we discussed earlier, customers are crying out for consistency in marketing and shopping experiences, so why on earth wouldn’t you give it to them? Chances are many of your competitors are not giving it to them either, so you’ll be a step ahead if you take the lead in this initiative.

If you’re looking for a marketing strategy that offers the biggest impacts, the best ROI and the highest chance of success, integration is for you.

Cons of integrated marketing

Not everything about integrated marketing is roses and white picket fences though. Here are some of the things we’ve watched brands struggle with in the past:

It’s not easy: It takes a shift in mindset to get integration really working for you. You’ll need to plan meticulously in order to get it right, and will need to stop thinking about different types of marketing as different ‘departments’ or teams, because it’s all one big animal now.

You have to do your homework: But Miss, the dog ate it. No, really, you have to crunch some numbers to get this to work, largely to find out who your audience are and what motivates them. Without this knowledge, you’ll struggle to find a message that really resonates and motivates in the way you need it to.

You’ll have to work together: Does your design department tend to live a very separate life from your web analytics team? Do your CRM specialists barely nod hello to your SEO team on a day to day basis? Well, all that needs to change, because you can only achieve truly integrated marketing when you’re running a truly integrated team. This may require some alterations to your operations, or even to the layout of your office, but don’t be afraid; together you are stronger!

Measurements can be challenging: Because you’re working across so many channels with this one mega-campaign, measurements of success and data points to consider are about to get much more complicated. It’s all perfectly do-able, but you need to have agreed as a team what successes look like before you start, so you can measure and recognise when you’ve achieved a goal.

None of these cons are very difficult to overcome if you’re approaching this with a commitment to integrated marketing. We can support you through this changing process, and help you implement the right frameworks to ensure success in the long run. Get in touch with our B2B integrated agency today and find out more about making your messages more consistent.