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December 12, 2012
The Marketing Jungle
Over the years in our work with hundreds of companies across a variety of industries, we’ve seen one obstacle surface repeatedly and more often lately. We call it the “Marketing Jungle,” and it signifies that while attempting to create integrated marketing programs, companies are trying (often unsuccessfully) to gain control over and integrate a variety of disparate marketing channels:
  • Identity and collateral materials
  • Advertising
  • Direct marketing
  • Sales
  • Public/media relations
  • Social media
  • Mobile marketing
  • Merchandising
  • Promotions
  • Website
  • Customer service
  • Partnerships/sponsorships
As you might imagine, the Marketing Jungle has flourished recently because of the proliferation of so many new tactics and channels caused by the digital boom. Unfortunately, many brands are suffering because of this problem. What we encounter is that companies try to tame this beast by: (1) doing some of the work in-house, (2) working with multiple agencies, and/or (3) not doing certain things. It is a job in and of itself just to manage the resources required to develop and maintain a presence in each of these channels. Not to mention the job of actually creating strategies and executing integrated campaigns that stretch across each of these categories.
What we’ve learned is that the primary reason that the Marketing Jungle seems so daunting is because brands are doing things in the wrong order. They are trying to develop and implement marketing plans without company-wide consensus around a singular objective, without a solid understanding of their target’s wants and needs, and/or without a crisp brand identity. If there isn’t clarity on these three fundamental marketing platforms, trying to develop an integrated communications plan is impossible.
The Marketing Jungle becomes overwhelming because brands can’t decide in which channels to place their marketing messages. Companies have limited marketing budgets and can’t afford everything, so how should they decide which tactics to do and not do? I believe that making these decisions would be easier if CMOs asked themselves three questions before deciding on any channel or tactic:
  1. How will this tactic help us reach our overarching business objective?
  2. Does our target utilize or participate in this media channel?
  3. Will this marketing vehicle allow us to best showcase our brand identity?
Here’s where it can get tricky. What if the CMO and CEO disagree on the business objective? What if a company doesn’t really know which marketing channels its target uses? Even worse, what if the brand identity is fuzzy and not everyone within the organization is clear on what their brand stands for? Believe me, these three scenarios happen more often than you may realize.
Take a minute to answer these questions on behalf of your brand or business: 
  • Do you seem to be lost in the Marketing Jungle?
  • Are your customer experiences inconsistent across various channels?
  • Does your marketing plan deviate throughout the Four Ps (Place, Price, Product, and Promotion)?
If you answered yes to any or all of the above questions, ask yourself if your organization is also suffering from a lack of:
  • Consensus on a singular business objective
  • Knowledge about your target’s behaviors
  • Focus around brand identity
And if you answered yes to any or all of these questions, you must address them first before you will ever be able to tame the Marketing Jungle.

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Emily K. Howarda marketing strategist since 1997, developed her skills at some of the country’s top marketing firms including DDB Worldwide, while working on brands like American Airlines, Pepsi, Bloomberg and Merck. Now as Vice President of Esparza, Emily’s integrated communications approach helps clients find order in marketing chaos. She’d love to hear from you and can be found on LinkedIn or @ekhoward on Twitter.
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