Imagine seeing a billboard advertising a car rental company. The billboard has a red and blue color scheme, and it sports the slogan “Car Rentals Done Right!” You remember the brand name, so later when you get home, you visit the rental car company’s website. The site has an orange and yellow color scheme, and it uses a slightly different slogan: “Do Your Car Renting Right!” You might be asking yourself if this is even the same company.
What you have just experienced is a disjointed brand experience. This hypothetical car rental company gave you a different look and a different message on different marketing channels. As a small business owner, it’s probably in your best interests to avoid such customer confusion. You do this by employing consistent messaging throughout all your marketing efforts. This is known as integrated marketing communications.
What is integrated marketing?
Integrated marketing is the principle of creating consistent messages across all of your marketing communication channels. Companies with an integrated marketing strategy strive to show customers the same visual aesthetic, the same slogans, the same promotions, and the same overall tone across multiple channels. Whether these customers engage with your product via a digital ad, a billboard, or an in-store experience, they’ll see a unified look and feel.
Benefits of integrated marketing
Successful integrated marketing campaigns can yield a wide range of benefits for both small businesses and large corporations. These advantages include:
- Increased brand awareness. As a marketer, you want that customer to receive a consistent message that they can rapidly associate with your brand.
- Multiple opportunities to connect. When your target audience encounters your company across multiple channels, you get multiple chances to deliver the same consistent message.
- Cost savings. Integrated marketing helps stretch your digital marketing budget. Because you will use very similar creative across multiple marketing channels, it’s like getting several campaigns for the price of one.
- Streamlined management. To thrive in the digital commerce economy, many companies embrace omnichannel marketing—which involves a presence on everything from TV to social media platforms to Google Ads. An integrated marketing strategy helps your marketing team manage all these platforms and channels because you’ll be using the same slogan, color scheme, and sales promotions on all platforms.
How to create an integrated marketing strategy
At a high level, creating an integrated marketing strategy is a three-part process:
- Establish creative direction. This is the look and feel of your brand or the big idea behind a singular campaign. It includes color, typography, and voice. As your marketing team selects each of these components, think about whether they can adequately manifest on all of your platforms. For instance, if you choose a special font to represent your brand name, make sure you have a plan to replicate that font anywhere your brand appears. If you render it on a website using HTML5 code, make sure the font is supported on all the platforms you’re using.
- Define channel strategies. This involves determining specific creative executions for each channel, and your plan for distributing the creative across channels. Your design team may work on a revamped look for your company website, or develop a new landing page for your integrated campaign. Your social media team may develop assets for Facebook, Instagram, and TikTok, each with their own twist on the program or campaign. Your performance marketing team might develop ad copy variations for Google ads. No matter how many channels you use, they must all work toward the same goal: presenting your brand image in a consistent way across all platforms.
- Coordinate your launch. With all teams in place, and each team united in its integrated marketing strategy, it is time to launch your campaign. Your new creative hits your website, your social channels, and your ads. Launching isn’t as simple as flipping a switch, but it should look that way to your customers.
Final thoughts: Consistency rules
Very few customers consciously judge a company based on the consistency of its marketing efforts. Subconsciously, however, your marketing coordination (or lack thereof) sends a lot of subtextual messages to your audience.
You probably wouldn’t trust your business to a bank or a wireless company whose ads all seemed different and who had multiple slogans and color schemes. Why, then, if your ad campaigns were equally disorganized, would a customer put that kind of trust in you? Today’s small business owners can’t afford such a risk. They create integrated marketing campaigns with a consistent brand image, giving customers tacit permission to trust them and do business with them.