When watching rowing crews gliding down a river, it is clear that the frontrunners in the competition are always the strongest, most synchronized teams. Promotional competitions in the marketplace are much the same: The frontrunners tend to have an integrated media mix supporting a strong message.
Integrated brand communications once referred only to print advertising, collateral materials, direct mail, press releases, and more recently, television campaigns. With the advent of digital technologies, however, it now includes digital on-line and off-line programs. The concept of communications seems simple, but barriers often challenge this common-sense approach.
Against the Current
The challenge in integrated brand communications is that it goes against the prevailing current of promotional plans development, according to a recent article on the American Marketing Association website.
Advertising agencies creating promotional plans are often restricted by media bias. They only recommend what their agency does in-house. If they have no E-marketing staff (which they often do not have), clients are forced to go to another vendor for their digital programs. This discourages the integration of traditional and digital media.
Additionally, client budgets are often itemized by type of media, which assigns separate financial allocations to advertising agencies, digital vendors, or direct mail vendors. This compartmentalizes media in the client's mind and in its execution. Yet traditional and digital media are beginning to overlap, blurring the line between them (Table). As a result, many vendors are shifting from offering one specialized medium to synchronizing complementary media that provide a significantly more powerful message.
Synchronized Marketing Strokes
The American Express "My Life, My Card" campaign used various media formats to drive its theme. Television shared life stories, print detailed those stories in short-form personal profiles, and on-line sites extended each tale into an experience with which the customer could interact.
One worked with a pharmaceutical brand manager to combine traditional print and digital media. The core of the program was a series of four E-details. The challenge was to drive maximum traffic to those on-line sessions. That mission was accomplished with a matching series of dimensional direct mail, and time-coordinated Email invitations. The client only dealt with a single company. Existing brand identity and themes were used in all print and digital components. The clear and consistent message contributed to an increase in sales for the brand. The budget for the two media was the same, but when combined into one program, it represented a more intelligent use of resources.
These types of integrated marketing offer a strong, fully synchronized brand message. Marketing vendors who provide integrated solutions to brand challenges will offer the most powerful programs for growing brands. They are helping brand managers synchronize for success.