A Recap of Integrated Marketing Week

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Integrated Marketing Week logoThe inaugural Integrated Marketing Week presented by the Direct Marketing Association and Econsultancy took place June 10-13 at the Metropolitan Pavilion in New York City. Because it’s a topic I’m interested in, I attended hoping to hear case studies and successful implementations of integrated marketing. What I walked away with was not exactly what I had expected – in a good way.

Seth Godin kicked things off as the lead keynote. His polished presentations never disappoint. His messages follow the many key takeaways from his cadre of published titles. From the Purple Cow to Tribes, and culminating with some of his more recent works that implore us to do work that matters – because ultimately that is what is going to find and resonate with an audience. Plus it will be a whole hell of a lot more enjoyable and fulfilling.

For the rest of my time at the conference, I selected presentations on a variety of topics from social media and marketing automation to segmentation and database driven marketing. What I found is that one of the pervasive discussions was about social media and how to work it into the media mix.

Integrating Social Media
Some interesting dialogue regarding social media arose during a panel discussion moderated by Aaron Kahlow from the Online Marketing Institute. The panelists considered multiple applications of social media. One point that resonated is that marketers need to step back and realize that social media is really just another marketing channel, no different than broadcast or print. In a rush to have a presence on each social media outlet, many marketers have not taken the time to evaluate whether or not their audience is actually “there.”

This manifests itself in marketers developing a “social media strategy” rather than a marketing strategy that includes social media. It may sound semantic, but it’s important to recognize that rather than developing social media as another silo within your organization. The value of social media can be great when used in conjunction with other channels – and understanding where in the sales cycle that social can have the biggest impact.

What an Experience
As I listened more and more to where each of the speakers saw the evolution of integrated communications going, the reductionist in me saw that it was all coming down to one thing: the customer experience. And what that means is the totality of the interactions are fluid and part of a process. The process, though, should not be redundant. For the customer experience to be smooth and coherent all of those disciplines from every part of your organization — marketing and sales, product and service development to customer service — need to work together. That is no small task.

During the conference speakers repeatedly endorsed, “putting the customer at the center.” Tactics and procedures should be evaluated and tested as to whether or not they are adding value to the customer’s journey. Your brand is the totality what customers and prospects believe your organization to be. That means everyone in your organization is involved in marketing. All the discussions about KPIs won’t mean a thing if you are not delivering a product or service that everyone believes in – both internally and externally. Look at some of the success stories of brands that have built followings, or in the parlance of Mr. Godin, tribes:

Zappos – a company that has fanatically devoted service representatives
Apple – despite recent declarations from the press that they are done innovating, a company that commands a price premium on all of it’s products because they “just work”
method – a company that espouses the idea that cleaning products can treat the Earth with respect
Innocent – on making sustainable, organic food products that help people feel better about what they’re eating

Each of these companies have had great marketing campaigns along the way, but it is more holistic than that. They’ve all chosen to stand for something, not just sell something. And they’ve made their customers part of that. From a marketer’s perspective, this sounds pretty hard to do when you are in an existing organization with “legacy operating rhythms” – a term borrowed from Jason Heller at Agiliti. Now a marketer’s job is to not only change perceptions externally, but internally as well. That may seem like a tall order, but organizations that have internal cultures that conflict with their external messaging are being exposed routinely – most often by their own employees who are using social media to express their frustration. People do want to be part of something meaningful, it’s our job as marketers to distill what that is and nurture and share it.