Is Your Marketing Converging?
Convergence is a term that shouldn’t be foreign to anyone that has worked with technology for any time. In tech it refers to a coming together of different telecommunication systems into one system.
The theory states that over time our cell phones, TV’s, and computers will converge to a single product. But how does the idea of convergence relate to marketing?
Similar to tech, it seems that many of our marketing campaigns are converging. What used to be able to stand alone as an isolating strategy, no longer has the option of going solo. Strategies and campaigns must integrate and interact with each other or fail from inefficiencies.
Offline print, TV ads, events, direct marketing and online digital marketing, display advertising, social media, email marketing, and SEO must all work together towards a common goal.
Example: Integrated Marketing
Imagine a brand that is about to launch a new vacuum cleaner. They already have a community and are relatively well known. Instead of letting each department run their own promotions, the team decides to work together.
Offline advertisements include a call to action to buy the product and an invitation to learn more about the product online. All offline coupons would include an online code, giving consumers multiple ways to convert.
Digital could create a partnership with a fulfillment program to enable e-commerce transactions and product deliveries. That way users sent online aren’t lost consumers.
All online coupons should include a printable version, allowing offline consumers the ability to use the coupons too.
Finally email and direct marketing could include social media profiles. All of which drive to either the e-commerce enabled pages or store locators, to funnel users to their choice destination.
This is a simpler integration. Campaigns can become more complex, especially when events are involved. It boils down to giving the consumer options and making sure each marketing type references another marketing type.
Identifying Disconnected Marketing
Integrated marketing may seem simple, “Just get everyone to work together” – but it’s much more than that.
Knowing when to work together is the first step. Synergy occurs during the planning phase. If departments aren’t talking early, you have a weird gray area – a fake integration.
Without that early one conversation, departments are simply adding on their ideas to an already existing project. Instead of creating integration, you’ve spawned what programmers like to call feature creep. (It’s when more and more features or ideas get added to a project until the entire project fails)
Example: Disconnected Marketing
Let’s reuse our example from above, but highlight disconnected marketing. It’s the same vacuum cleaner company, about to launch a new product. Because the business has been focused on offline marketing, a majority of resources is directed to TV ads, print advertising, and billboards.
They’ve decided on an overall theme of the campaign and have create the ads and messaging. Digital, being an after-thought, is asked to create a microsite based on the offline messaging. The business is hoping that users looking for the product online will find the microsite.
What in the first example was a very complex net, pushing consumers through a multitude of brand experiences, has broken down to an offline focused advertising campaign. No one asked how each medium could compliment another and so one became dominant and pushed everything down.
In this instance the business has potentially lost anyone that was researching online or wanted more information about the product after seeing an ad.
Also, we know social consumers are more likely to buy product, but social media wasn’t integrated into the plan. (Social media needs to be integrated with other marketing strategies… it cannot and will not stand by itself.)
In the end, the brand loses out because it could have more efficiently reached consumers; the launch did not leverage each medium to its fullest.
Creating a Culture of Integration
Businesses need to evolve their very culture to reach the integration I speak about. When employees are worried about their jobs, horde information, and are willing to hurt others to get ahead; no one will work together.
Until this mentality changes, the business has no chance to be as effective as it could be.
There are multiples ways to shift the culture and push integration. They span from forceful to subtle, and I’ll outline a few ideas and small steps businesses can take.
The first is to simply force integration. Adding a requirement of identifying integrations for all major campaigns can help determine early opportunities.
Ensuring the process is added to the normal workflow of projects forces marketers and teams to consider their colleagues and how the campaigns can fit together.
This doesn’t always work because it still leaves the underlying issue unanswered. Departments won’t want to work together, and the creativity might not happen. The process might become no more than simple lip service.
Another way to subtly push a culture change is to create an committee of department heads, tasked with finding integration opportunities. By choosing department leads, employees understand that it’s an important project and that working with coworkers is important. Here, leading by example begins the process.
The third way businesses can help inspire a culture of support, is by having departments teach other departments. Creating an environment of learning lessens the idea that sharing information makes you weaker.
When employees realize that teaching others what you know, doesn’t marginalize you, then information flows more readily. This strategy not only helps with integration, but with overall knowledge exchange as well.
Generally, forcing culture changes rarely works. The subtle and gradual change over time is the most lasting and effective. Identify your company culture and find ways to push for more openness and synergy.
Integration won’t happen over night. It will be a long process with many obstacles in the way. People don’t want to lose the power they’ve collected over time and they don’t want to share the limelight.
It’s your job to find a way to create a company that rewards people for working together, for sharing information, for creating the new culture. It first has to start with you.
How are you going to help your business shift its culture? What programs have you been a part of that worked? Have you ever worked in an environment where sharing information was seen as a good thing? I’d love to hear your ideas.