Just like nurturing your seedlings from seed to sustainable plant with a combination of water, sunlight and nutrients; an integrated approach to your marketing will help your business to grow.
“Something old, something new, something borrowed, something…true.” – Meerah Tauqir
No, that’s not a typo. If you're wondering what I’m talking about, hold on to that thought for just a little while longer and I’ll come back to this shortly.
So here we are. Welcome to my first blog post as a professional marketer. A little bit about me? Well, I finished my Master of Marketing recently and since then, have had the sheer delight of drawing comparisons between the marketing in textbooks and that in the “real world.”
So what does great marketing mean to me and what is the best way to do this in today’s gimmicky world? You might think this is a loaded question, but for me, the answer comes quite easily. If I had to encapsulate what I believe to be the recipe for a successful marketing strategy, the above adage rings true every time. What exactly do I mean by this?
To break it down, by combining 1 part old; traditional marketing, 1 part new; inbound marketing, 1 part borrowed; curated content from thought leaders and influencers and 1 part true; authenticity and purpose, a company can stand itself in good stead for attracting customers. For the purpose of this blog post however, I will be focusing on the first two facets of my quote - something old and something new. This brings me to the concept of integrated marketing.
Integrated marketing, as described by Mark Schmukler in What is Integrated Marketing, is the practice of integrating traditional methods with new online ways of marketing to attract, convert and retain customers so that they can go on to be your company’s advocates. So let’s shed light on each of the components that make up this notion of integrated marketing.
Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you have most likely been consciously or subconsciously, targeted by traditional offline marketing at some point in your life. An example of this could be as easy as going to the supermarket to buy ice-cream on a hot summers day after being exposed to an ad. for the irresistibly chocolaty Magnum whilst watching the T20 cricket match.
Traditional marketing, also referred to as outbound marketing, uses an array of channels such as TV, radio, print, flyers and brochures to promote a product or service to potential customers. Outbound marketing is marketer-centric and is focused on one-way communication from the marketer to the prospective customer. Marketers “push” promotions onto customers irrespective of whether this is of value to them or not. It comes as no surprise then, that with technological advancements such as TiVo and AdBlockers, when consumers were given the chance to opt-out from being sprayed with promotional marketing that wasn’t relevant to them, they often did. Enter Inbound Marketing.
Your TV now acts like a computer
Inbound marketing, a term coined by our partners HubSpot, is a customer-centric approach in which marketing is primarily digital and is used to draw customers in. Unlike its predecessor, inbound marketing is designed to “pull” customers in by offering the right content, to the right person, at the right time. As the esteemed marketing author and educator, Dr. Philip Kotler puts it in his latest book ‘Marketing 4.0 - Moving from Traditional to Digital’, the excerpts of which can be found in Michael Krauss’s article, marketing has evolved from traditional to digital and now, the customer is in charge!
Technology plays an integral role in society today creating customers that are now more informed than ever. With over 3.5 billion Google searches a day worldwide, there is no shortage of information for today’s consumer. It is therefore quintessential for us as marketers to adapt to the changing nature of customers in this digital age by switching from thze role of a seller, to that of an educator. Marketers today must guide customers through their customer journey from the awareness of a product/service, to consideration, through to the decision stage and ultimately, to brand advocacy. How then, do we as marketers do this? The answer: by creating content that helps to educate consumers at every point of the customer journey.
Content is consumed over many channels
In the awareness stage of a customer’s journey, when a prospective customer is experiencing a problem, as inbound marketers, you can create an eBook around the problem-based keywords that a customer has typed into Google to help them better understand their issue. At the consideration stage, a podcast might be used to provide all possible solutions in solving the problem. It is only at the decision stage of the inbound marketing methodology, when a customer has decided on their solution strategy, that branded keywords pertaining to the company’s own product/service offering can be incorporated in marketing collateral, as a possible viable option for a consumer.
As reinforced in Joshua Jackson’s article on the Difference Between Inbound and Outbound Marketing the inbound marketing approach focuses on listening to a customer and nurturing them through the buyer's journey with educational content that is of value to them, rather than the practice of hard selling with irrelevant promotions. Marketers that employ an inbound way of marketing are seen as more authentic and as such, are perceived as more trustworthy by prospective customers.
So if the benefits of inbound marketing outweigh those of traditional, then why is the optimal way of marketing only realised when the two methods converge?
While you may think the jury’s still out on this, it’s not. Combining traditional marketing with the inbound marketing approach provides marketers with the best opportunity to optimise across all channels to move consumers through the customer journey. According to Rob Starr in the Integrated Marketing article, striking a delicate balance between sales promotion and educational content can help to attract, convert and retain a customer and thus, generate the highest ROI for a company.
With tradeshows and events seeing the greatest customer footfall of a company’s likely target audience, marketers can utilise this traditional offline means of marketing to create the initial brand awareness with a prospect. We can then nurture this prospective customer with digital content that seeks to educate them, giving them the freedom to interact with the brand on their own terms. Your prospective customer needs to see or hear of your brand seven times before they choose to take action. As such, integrated marketing allows companies to be present on the channels their target audience are most active on increasing the likelihood of their message breaking through the clutter and being acted upon.
One way I like to think about integrated marketing is through the analogy of orange farming. First you sow the orange seeds. To make sure your seeds form saplings, grow into a plant and then a tree, you must make sure that the seeds are exposed to an adequate amount of water and sunlight every day. Finally your hard work pays off when an orange has come to fruition and is ripe for picking. After the orange has been consumed, the seeds can be replanted to grow even more oranges.
So how does this analogy relate to integrated marketing? Planting the initial seed is likened to a TV advertisement or billboard to create the initial brand awareness to then entice the prospective customer to engage with the brand online. Nurturing this seed to grow with daily water and sunlight is no different to marketers generating educational content to move the prospect along the buyer’s journey. Finally the orange is ripe and ready to be picked – the lead has decided to take action and become a customer. Hooray! But it doesn’t end here. This process is iterative. By providing an excellent customer experience and delighting the customer, this consumer will hopefully become your brand advocate and bring new customers to you in the future.
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At Marketing Entourage, we realise the importance of integrated marketing in achieving optimal results for your business. If you’d like to know more about what we do, take a look at the relevant pages on our website or Contact Us for a free consultation and see how we can help transform the way you market your business.
by Meerah Tauqir
Written by Meerah Tauqir
Meerah is a marketing and account manager whose experience has come from working, both locally and internationally, for a combination of multinational corporates and boutique companies. Coupled with her commerce accounting and finance background, Meerah is equipped with a robust skills set that allows her to be both creative and analytical. Meerah enjoys staying on top of all things marketing and is particularly passionate about Marketing Communications, Brand Management and Digital Marketing.