The word “integrated” is used a lot by today’s marketers — so much that it has almost become a buzzword. And like most overused buzzwords, it has started to lose its true meaning in connection with marketing communications. Some marketers use the word “integrated” to describe a program that simply combines several tactics and communication channels. While this may be considered integrated to some, it’s missing one key component: strategy.
What does “integrated” really mean?
In an effective B2B digital marketing program, the word “integrated” means more than the bundling together of different tactics and channels. A company can have a website, a blog, an email campaign, several social media channels, and a mix of print and online article placements. But if messaging isn’t consistent across all platforms, marketing isn’t truly integrated.
To us, integrated means that the entire program, including every single tactic and piece of communication, is driven by a comprehensive marketing strategy and consistent messaging platform.
This won’t come as a revelation to most B2B marketers. We’ve all heard it before. We’ve all been part of those strategic planning meetings. But like so many other things in our busy lives, it just bears repeating. It’s like remembering to change the oil in the car or going to the dentist for routine checkups. We all know we need to do these things, but we still need those little reminders to actually get us to take action.
The reason we need to constantly remind ourselves to follow a strategy and messaging is because every activity in a marketing program must be working to achieve the same end goal. And while the end goal for every company and campaign will be different (awareness, brand preference, web traffic, leads, etc.), the need for a unified strategy that drives every tactic will always be the same.
Cohesive Messaging is Key
So, how does strategy drive B2B digital marketing action? It’s all about staying on message. To decide on the best B2B messaging, you need a fundamental understanding of a company’s audience and market conditions. A solid marketing strategy and messaging documents will answer these basic, but crucial questions:
- Who is the target audience?
- What are their job challenges?
- How do they prefer to learn about new solutions to these challenges?
- Who are the competitors?
- What are they doing to reach and influence this audience?
- How can we be different, yet still effective at achieving our goals?
That last question is the real kicker and the reason why a truly integrated B2B digital marketing strategy is so important. By doing all of this background research, marketers will discover opportunities to differentiate their business from the competition and get noticed by prospects. It also enables them to use new digital marketing tools like marketing automation more effectively. Why bother blasting your audience with strategically timed content if you’re just saying the same thing as the competition? Boring!
All marketing tactics should be thought of as part of a larger whole, rather than separate pieces. By strategically integrating all tactics, the programs become more effective and cost efficient. An Integrated marketing communication plan helps you meet real business objectives – generate leads, grow revenues, gain market share, and become the leading brand.