UNDERSTANDING INTEGRATED MARKETING
To get a basic understanding of Integrated Marketing, one needs to look at the world around him and think about the various ways in which he/she absorbs information. Information is spread over a network that encompasses people of all genders, nationalities and races over all countries on planet earth. Information flows on a continual loop even when you’re not conscious. Electronic devices, namely TV’s, Mobile Phones, Laptops and channels of communication like the internet are all synced together ,with each featuring accessibility to the other in various capacity. To put it simply, all the information in the world is on your fingertips anytime, anywhere.
Such synchronicity in information forms the basis for Integrated Marketing. Which according to official definition, creates a ‘seamless, interconnected brand experience for the consumer’. To make it less convoluted, it can be described as a practice that involves the melding of all aspects of marketing communication, including: advertising, sales promotion, public relations, direct marketing and social media through their respective mix of channels and tactics. Hence, the word integration. Because here, all channels are inexorably linked together into signifying the unity of the brand.
To make it even less convoluted, let’s take the example of say, Apple’s integrated marketing.
They pride themselves on having a crisp, clean, ‘no gimmick’ presentation. Their advertising strategy is simple- showcase a sleek, modern product that puts an emphasis on speed and working faster and smarter than its competitors. This approach is reflected in both their store design (white, clean and minimalist) as well as their TV commercials (stark, smart and infectious) and brands their products as more intuitive, futuristic and elite across all communication channels. This strategy worked for them as they were able to charge more than their competition and still have a dominance over the hardware market. Apple insured that aside from making quality products, they could consolidate the need for their products in the consumer’s mind.
Integrated marketing also helps form a unified brand image. And this is important in this day and age because media fragmentation and exposure have begun to desensitize consumers and make them wary. People are hit each day with a non-stop barrage of information and it’s only the most integrated brands that have a chance of standing apart and frankly, have better recall. It is all but a vital tactic for large corporations, whose sole purpose is to position themselves as a vital entity inside the minds of the broadest possible audience but is also known to boost sales across the globe and offer competitive advantages.
People need to be clear that the brand is giving them what they need and hence, each platform in an Integrated Marketing strategy contributes to an overall Brand story/ message. Messaging, design, customer service and product experience are all synched to ensure that the consumer interface with product/service remains active and engaged at all times and there are multiple facilities and instances of brand touchpoints for prospective new consumers. The ‘Brand experience’ also involves selling you the idea of the organization and can help consumers prime themselves to other Brand aspects like Merchandising ( i.e. getting a person who plays ‘Capcom’ video games to buy ‘Capcom’ products).
It is in eventuality, a stepping stone for increased Brand Visibility. Great brands have made their mark on making an impression on a global consumer base by making themselves invaluable to their lifestyles (Can you imagine living in a world without McDonald’s?) and Integrated Marketing can help brands in facilitating as such. People identify with brands and symbols as part of their lifestyle extensions and it’s a highly competitive market, so it’s vital to present a concrete, expansive, understandable and desirable vision to the consumer if you’re to ensure that your brand not only makes an impression in their minds, but stays there.