Consumer Cartography (aka Integrated Marketing)

Ever since business school, I have heard of this new thing called “Integrated Marketing” where all messages, brand attributes, and channels will all work together in joyous harmony and delight the consumer to a purchase-minded bliss. But the deeper I’ve evolved in my career and having my blissful visions completely crashed by the cold hard facts I’ve found that there is no such thing as “Integrated Marketing” as we sit today; just a bunch of silos working independently from other touch points. Why? From where I see it, as advertisers and agencies both work in these disparate silos the internal communication between groups is very little or almost nonexistent.  So how can we expect an integrated messaging output to come from that?

This is what I currently see happening:

As new channels and communication disciplines come about, both the advertiser and agency mindset is to create a new division or build a new agency to handle that particular channel. Done.

We don’t have to worry about it. We’ll build a “Social Media Task Force” and a hire a Social Media agency and everything will be perfect. We can keep doing what we’re doing while the social people (whatever that is anyway) will give us the presence we need to tap into that discipline. Now I’ll go back to my TV advertising.

I’m sure you have all been a part of a similar thought or have seen a similar thought happen in your organization (advertiser or agency). Huge disconnect here. No strategy, no communication, no thought of elaboration, or collaboration, or collective brainstorming… no integration.

So what have we learned about integrated marketing communications? Companies and agencies work in silos; HOWEVER, consumers do not. These silos don’t produce optimized results because of inconsistent messaging, false promises not held up by another touch point, confusion in action steps; frankly a disconnect between the needs of the consumer and what we’re providing as value through communication.

We all know this is a major issue facing everyone in the industry, so I guess the question becomes, “Why do we still act this way?” Just because it “worked” in the past doesn’t necessarily mean it will work in the future. Adding divisions and new roster agencies every time a new communication channel comes around will continue the siloed effect and quickly tear the beauty of expert messaging apart. Why not break down walls and focus on core messaging and definitive objectives for that messaging (regardless of the platform)? Why not start with a strategic view to satisfy consumer needs and strive to reach those needs.

Being completely platform agnostic and starting with the objectives and consumer needs in mind will allow for a literal strategic mapping of sorts of how communication and engagement should unfold for the consumer, not the other way around; not from the brand. Then, with this map to guide us, we can begin to develop a robust messaging strategy that is consistent across the touch points that are the most relevant to each consumer, effectively breaking down the silos and putting up a unified, dare I say it, Integrated front, continuously supporting the consumer to produce the blissful, purchase-minded results we all want.

All in all, consumers are constantly changing; their messaging platforms are constantly changing; their needs, desires, and behaviors are constantly changing… Why are we so reluctant to change?