Integrated Marketing Communications definition / Marketing communications

Integrated Marketing Communications definition

Last week in Boston I presented to the DemandCon conference on Integrated Marketing, which was part of a broader set of conferences operating under the banner of “Data Driven Business Week.” I made my case for the fact that businesses are now being held to a much higher standard of trustworthiness by their customers, largely as a result of the rising level of transparency brought on by social media. Shelly Kramer summarized it well on her V3 blog site (V3 Integrated Marketing: Vision, Voice, Value) with her post, “Trustability: The New Normal for Business.”

But in answering questions after my talk, someone asked more specifically about the importance of integrated marketing communications today, and I had an epiphany:

The common definition of “integrated marketing” no longer works!

  • From the American Association of Advertising Agencies in 1989: "an approach to achieving the objectives of a marketing campaign through a well-coordinated use of different promotional methods that are intended to reinforce each other."
  • From Northwestern University’s Journal of Integrated Marketing in the 1990’s: "a strategic marketing process specifically designed to ensure that all messaging and communication strategies are unified across all channels and are centered around the customer."
  • From Brian Bennett’s Stirology blog post in 2013: "the development of marketing strategies and creative campaigns that weave together multiple marketing disciplines (paid advertising, public relations, promotion, owned assets, and social media) that are selected and then executed to suit the particular goals of the brand."

Excuse me, but all these definitions (even Bennett’s, unfortunately) seem so…Twentieth Century. Today, integrated marketing must involve not just integrating your own messages and communications, but integrating your customer more directly into the marketing, sales, and service processes themselves.

Technology is smashing these functions together like never before. Marketing, sales, and customer service are smearing into each other with each new channel opportunity and smartphone app. The only truly integrated view of the entire start-to-finish process is the customer’s own view.

So I would propose a slightly different, and simpler, definition for “integrated marketing” today:

Integrated marketing incorporates an individual customer’s own perspective into all customer-facing functions at a company, including marketing, sales, and service.

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