Integrated marketing: Turning mixed messages into clear and coherent communications

Marketing is not a PowerPoint presentation, a case study, a website or an advert. Nor is it a company logo, a colour palette or a font. Marketing is shaping the effects your company’s actions have on the world at large. It affects how others perceive your company: from the consistency of the messages in your campaigns to the way you engage with local communities; from the diversity of your senior leadership team to your staff attrition rates; and from the way your team handles customer complaints to how quickly you pay suppliers.

But, before you start creating new marketing tools or tweaking existing ones, the strategy behind your actions needs careful consideration.

Integrated campaigns are essential. We live in a multichannel world where information is competing for attention, so complementary messages ensure that prospects and customers receive consistent assertions each time they see one of your campaign elements.

Disillusion breeds distortion
Does your company have a set of core values on which everything is built? Do your employees believe them? Leadership and company culture are essential to creating and projecting a consistent and believable shop window. What the outside world sees is what the inside world projects.

Your message, however well considered, can distort when stakeholders engage with disillusioned, ill-informed staff. If your employees do not understand or believe in your message, how can you expect your stakeholders to buy into your products or services?

In practice, building a deep-rooted, reinforced message takes time and means getting the basics right. It also requires all employees to be motivated to working towards a common goal. The best way to realise this is to be consistent.

Centralise marketing for consistency
Developing and retelling a clearly defined message forms the foundation of integrated communications. Using the same strapline or set of core messages or evocative imagery supported by a consistent tone of voice are some of the ways to achieve this. Repeating one concept may appear lazy, but this is far from true; an integrated approach is elegant and reinforces your company’s brand values.

Inconsistency and inaccuracy are amplified in an environment where people focus on their own region, segment or product group instead of the big picture. Companies with multiple offices or business units, or those that have grown through acquisitions can be especially guilty of working in silos. A good way to combat this is centralising marketing: strategic decisions can be based on company objectives set by the leadership team and translated into day-to-day marketing activities implemented by the various business units.

Knowledge is power
Shared knowledge often leads to increased sales opportunities and is where an integrated approach can add real value to the bottom line.

How? Knowing the aspirations and daily activities of each business unit enables a smart marketer to identify hidden opportunities for collaboration between business units. Importantly, it can also facilitate joined-up messaging to cross- and up-sell services to mutual clients or prospects. A strategically developed integrated campaign is more powerful and professional than individual mixed messages.

It sounds simple, but, when employees understand their company’s goals, they are better equipped to meet them. Knowledge really is power and comes in many forms: it could be market analysis or competitor intelligence, changes in legislation that affect the business, updates to brand guidelines, sales pipeline sticking points or recently awarded contracts.

Stakeholder perceptions
Customer perceptions are important, but, whatever your company’s activities and objectives, there are other stakeholder groups whose opinions matter. Each stakeholder group should receive its own subset of carefully tailored content supported by the larger company message. They should be delivered at the correct time and using the appropriate channel.

For example, a company wishing to refinance may want to highlight positive earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation (EBITDA) in the financial trade press; a national company may wish to start exporting, so courting local agents may be necessary; and an industry leader may want to garner political support to help drive change at an industry level. Always ask, “What does my stakeholder care about?”

YOU are a marketer
Every employee can influence how others perceive a company. Every employee is a marketer irrespective of job title. Because of this, employees should have access to all the relevant knowledge they need to become a confident company advocate. Do you know your company’s five-year plan? Do you believe in its core values; do you know what they are? The marketing function is responsible for giving employees access to the information they need to feel empowered.

Who in your company does this?

Talk to RSK Communication Services about a review of your marketing strategy. We can help to turn mixed messages into coherent communications.