Four Bullet Points to the Head of an IMC Oxymoron

Gordon Hochhalter
Gordon Hochhalter

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The execution of integrated marketing programs is still a monumental mess.

Most are filled with creative efforts that have no common buying idea or brand point of view, or no distinctive, human brand voice. Or, they are jam-packed with tactics that function in their own individual spheres, unconnected to others and to the whole.

They blowed up real good

As a result, there are more integrated programs blowing up out there in the marketplace than the director’s cut of The Hurt Locker.

Why? Because your integrated marketing isn’t as integrated as you think it is. That’s one reason 75 percent of marketers who say they have an integrated program are unhappy with it.

What’s wrong with this picture?

A recent survey of 200 members of the Association of National Advertisers conducted by CoActive Marketing Group lists the biggest barriers to effective integrated marketing.

Read carefully, there will be a pop quiz at the end.

1. Functional silos (59%)

2. Lack of strategic consistency across communications disciplines (49%)

3. Insufficient marketing budget (36%)

4. Lack of a standard measuring process (36%)

5. Lack of needed skill sets among marketing staff (36%)

6. The need to develop the “big creative idea” that can be leveraged across different media disciplines (32%)

What kind of cosmic bunny hole have we fallen through?

Call me addle-brained, but don’t you think numbers 1, 2, 4, 5 and 6 all have a direct relationship to one another?

I think they do. As a matter of fact, I think they’re symptoms of the same problem. Companies and traditional agencies are still organized and staffed by specific media specialists and not by “integrationists.”

This is especially true of digital, direct marketing and social media disciplines. And, of course, clients’ own marketing departments. These specialists tend to embrace the old adage, “To a person with a hammer, everything starts to look like a nail.”

“But ____ is totally different, and we’re the only ones who understand it”

And so it will remain as long as industry publications, trade associations, traditional agencies, specialty agencies (including old line shops that are still just agencies but now call themselves integrated marketing companies) and, of course, clients themselves keep talking about their integrated direct programs and their integrated online campaigns.

What insanity.

What are we, oxymorons?

In a truly integrated marketing world, those are all oxymorons. And this kind of oxymoronic thinking is all over the place. In fact, here’s a more complete list of the nonsensical terms you hear all the time:

  • Integrated event marketing
  • Integrated social media
  • Content marketing
  • Integrated advertising
  • Integrated digital campaign
  • Integrated trade show program
  • Integrated direct marketing

Each one is an oxymoron and further proof of the bastardization of the concept and principles of integrated marketing.

How to fix everything in four oversimplified bullet points

There are four things we can do to begin to pull ourselves out of this hole and move on to a more satisfying integrated life:

  • Tear down the silos that currently exist in your marketing department. Pull up and pulverize all the turf that people war over. Make it easy, interactive and mandatory that people talk to each other constantly.
  • Get everyone on the same page with a holistic, functional definition of what IMC is.
  • Hire a highly collaborative team whose members are trained, encouraged, processized and culturalized (I know they’re not words, but they should be) to be integrators.
  • Embrace work processes and team organizations designed to protect integrated work from being reinvented every time it goes into a different medium.

But that’s just my opinion. What’s yours?

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