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April 12, 2006
Integrated Marketing: What Does It Really Mean?
 

Yogi Berra once said: "The future is not what it used to be." While he was probably referring to baseball, his theory also rings true in the world of marketing and media.

When we first made the move into interactive marketing in the mid-1990s, the media mix and marketer-to-consumer dynamic was a lot easier. Defining integrated marketing was easy. Simply put, integrated marketing was when all aspects of marketing communications (regardless of whether it was advertising, sales promotions, public relations or direct marketing) worked in unison and harmony.

Back in the "old" days, the promise of the Internet was hardly known or more accurately appreciated, and people weren't even close to factoring in the impact and opportunities of other interactive communications vehicles such as TiVO, iTV, mobile phones, gaming, PDAs or iPods.

Today it's a lot more interesting, exciting, and fun.

The advent and evolution of the Internet and all of the above technologies has altered the media mix and the idea of integrated marketing for good, and those of us in the business have realized, it's no longer simply about unifying messages and concepts so all media are consistent but rather that we embrace the following:

  1. Abandon everything you thought you knew about the consumer. Technology has not only changed the mediums through which we market, it has changed the consumer. Today's consumer is more demanding, more expecting, and less tolerant of conventional advertising than he was five years ago. The Echo Boomers, those individuals born between 1982 and 1995 and the hard-core threat posed by the media, marketing, communications, and commerce needs of "millenials," means that marketers - and agencies - have to change their thinking. We have been forced to abandon old-school wisdom about yesterday's consumer and embrace a new mentality that has not only expanded our out-of-the-box thinking but inspires us everyday.
  2. It's about experiences not just ads. Today's successful marketer not only needs to understand the customer's behavior, he needs to understand that marketing is no longer simply the compilation of an ad. It's about creating interactions and experience. It's also about utilizing eCRM, the online version of Customer Relationship Management, whereby marketers combine the business processes and data with offline, back-end systems. Today's new consumer requires an experience, not just a product.
  3. Build strong, long-lasting relationships. Relationships are really the only thing that you can take to the bank. They are the basis of value and should be the focus of every marketing program. Every ad, every sponsorship, every marketing interaction needs to be viewed as the entrance into a customer relationship and needs to be used to create strong and mutually beneficial relationships between brands and consumers. Marketers should look to examples like Apple and The New York Times that have created the right balance in their marketing plans between advertising and relationship building.
  4. Keep testing new things. In this new world of media and marketing, testing is essential to stay at the forefront of the next big thing. Things are moving fast today and there is no sign of slowing in the next few years; the pace of innovation will continue to exceed the adoption curve, so to keep pace, you need to institutionalize testing and marketing R&D.
  5. Let the right medium lead. I think it's safe to say that the prognostications about the Internet ruling the world in 2003 may have been off the mark. But how about 2010? There's no question about the increased role of interactivity in the marketing and media mix, and you don't have to look any farther than Google and MySpace to know that the landscape is forever changed.
While interactivity has grown and the mix has shifted, the big shift is months, maybe a year away before media and marketers alike are going to have to make some big decisions and changes. One of those changes is going to be which media is the leader of the mix and which agency do marketers choose to play the leading role. Will it be the ones that grew from the print and broadcast worlds or the ones that bring the best of those disciplines and have helped to create today's interactivity, interactive marketing, and new consumer expectations of media?

 

You probably can guess where my vote is cast.


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As executive vice president, North America, for nurun | ant farm interactive, Michael Koziol is responsible for overall agency vision, direction, and client strategy. He focuses on client relations, generating interactive ideas, and generating new business. Prior to co-founding Ant Farm Interactive in 1999 (acquired by Nurun Inc. in 2004) with Melissa Honabach, he was a key member of BellSouth IntelliVentures’ management team.
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