In my business degree (many years ago), we learned about Integrated Marketing Communications, IMC. The professor talked about how companies previously saw marketing as a set of silos. Advertising was different to PR, which was different to sales promotions. IMC was the process of bringing the efforts together, to deliver a coordinated message.
It sounded so obvious…. why would you waste time and money by having each of your channels talking about different things?
Today, in 2017, I meet with companies to discuss their digital strategy. In most companies, social media, digital advertising, email marketing, content creation, website development, e-commerce etc are treated as silos. Creating even more fragmentation, brand digital is different to product digital or branch digital. Either separate groups of staff are working on each area, or the tasks are given to different agencies who don’t talk to each other.
In defending their territory, the people in each silo push the purpose and metrics in a direction that produces some sort of result, regardless of whether that result has any value for the organisation.
The result is beliefs such as “Social media is not for customer acquisition or sales support, it is for engaging our community, that means we want Likes on our posts”. Or, “the advertising agency can’t use Twitter for promotions because Twitter is managed by the social media agency”. Or, “we can split test ad creatives but not landing pages, because the website is under IT and they are too busy”.
I get it. Likes are easy. Coordinating with advertising and sales teams and agencies and tracking the contribution of multiple platforms to sales is hard.
It’s time for more companies to embrace Integrated Digital Communications. Your digital channels should all be pulling in the same direction: business objectives.
The potential of digital marketing is incredible. Today you can weave a brand story that engages with every digital touchpoint of your customer’s life. Even a startup can create an enormous digital presence.
For each of your customer segments, you need to think in depth and breadth.
Depth – how can you deliver a coordinated, engaging message across the full spectrum of digital media that your customer is already using? You need to learn how and when your customer is using each platform. And you need to repeat this process for each of your other customer segments.
Breadth – how can you make this consistent, and sustainable? Move beyond blasts and short campaigns and think about a 12-month cycle. If you bombard your customer this week, will they still be interested next week? What should you be planning today, that you want to show in 3 months?
It is hard work. It means reassessing how you use digital channels. It means learning how to link analytics across multiple platforms. It means that people need to coordinate openly, despite the fear that their part of the technology mix might turn out to be useless once we ignore vanity metrics.
Very little of this requires special technical skills. The information and tools that you need are already available. The change you need is a mindset. From ‘digital for the sake of digital’ to ‘digital for the sake of business objectives’.
This mindset is what separates the sophisticated digital marketers. And this is why they are 1000x more effective than everyone else.