One of the hottest topics in marketing today is campaign integration. While virtually all marketers agree on the importance of integration, they don’t feel like they’re doing it very well. According to a recent report published by the American Association of Advertising Agencies, developing integrated marketing communications is the number one concern of senior marketing executives (followed by accountability, aligning their marketing organization with innovation and building strong brands). Of those surveyed, 91% believe that an integrated campaign is of critical importance to their success; however only 21% believe that their organization actually does a great job delivering it.
The conception, execution and implementation of a successful integrated marketing campaign, is a tough job for any marketer because of the vast array of disciplines involved. There’s traditional media advertising, online marketing, public relations, product placement, promotions, mobile marketing, event marketing, direct response, in-store advertising, merchandising, multi-cultural marketing, guerilla marketing, and that’s just the tip of the iceberg. To complicate matters even further, most companies operate in silos with each department working with a different specialized agency. Anyone can see why CMOs become frustrated. They receive different recommendations from different professionals at different agencies, and they’re then faced with the challenge of making sense of it all. It’s like trying to wrestle down a twelve-headed monster.
To make matters even worse, advertising agencies suffer from similar silos. In agency holding companies everyone fights for their share of the client’s dollar in order to meet their numbers. In these situations, the agencies are looking to defend their own turf and find it almost impossible to truly be media agnostic. In the end, the clients are the ones that suffer.
So how can CMOs launch successful integrated campaigns? Well, they have several options. They can hire several specialized agencies and coordinate the entire effort themselves. They can hire a holding company or full-service advertising agency and have them both develop and implement the integrated campaign. Or, they can hire a marketing consultant that works with all the agencies to coordinate the campaign integration.
Of these options, I believe that it is the marketers’ responsibility to lead the campaign integration process. They must centralize their marketing departments and break down the silos. I find it ironic that we’re in the communications business, and yet we communicate so poorly with each other. Try to send a few less IMs and emails, and instead meet face-to-face or pick up the phone more often. The result will be stronger relationships between internal departments and agencies alike. Marketers must also value their agencies as strategic partners, openly communicate with them and nurture positive relationships amongst the different specialized agency teams. All this requires a great deal of effort and a lot of hard work. But in the end, CMOs will be rewarded with a media neutral approach, best-in-class expertise, a consistent message and a truly integrated campaign.