Most of us are familiar with the idea of integrated marketing. What is surprising, however, is that the emphasis is almost always placed on marketing and the idea of integrated, or integration, is often given short shrift.
There are at least five reasons integration should be more carefully considered.
First, thinking broadly about integration almost always increases your understanding of the possibilities of marketing. Rather than thinking solely about traditional media, thinking integratively, or laterally, helps you consider the role that buildings and grounds might play in your marketing efforts, or the marketing implications of the array of academic programs you offer.
Second, a commitment to organizational integration creates synergy across multiple offices, operations, and channels. This is especially true when the 5As—academics, athletics, admissions, advancement, and alumni—all work from the same broad marketing plan. When people from different offices row together greater momentum is achieved.
Third, a commitment to channel integration will dramatically increase the power and potency of your message. Fewer messages communicated across more channels (traditional, nontraditional, social, and others) will almost always be more effective. A direct mail piece that is reinforced by social media and targeted display advertising is much more likely to be effective than a simple direct mail piece that flies solo.
Fourth, message integration, like channel integration, is highly synergistic. When the key messages of the admissions office are reinforced by the alumni office and when the president makes an important speech, the impact of the overall message is multiplied.
Fifth, budget integration means that often overlooked smaller pools of money can be coalesced into a larger pool that would support more significant marketing activities. Budget integration almost always means greater stewardship of marketing dollars. Furthermore, budget integration gives you a greater sense of your overall marketing spend, and plays a critical role in allowing you to measure return on investment (ROI) at a later date.
There is little doubt that integrated marketing is a powerful tool. By fully understanding and embracing the notion of integration, however, you will increase the power of integrated marketing even more.