The Most Overlooked Element in Integrated Marketing

Social, media, making.

If you attend marketing meetings, chances are you’ve heard the term “integrated marketing” tossed around quite a bit. In talking with our clients, we’ve found that they often don’t have clarity on what integrated marketing really is. And we can’t blame them; a quick Google search shows that no two definitions of the term are the same. They do seem to agree on the general gist: Integrated marketing considers media holistically, across all mediums, to present a unified look, feel, and message. But they all seem to miss the most important piece: The starting point for any marketing activity—the business goal.

Getting to the Goal in Marketing

BC blog_BaskinShark flowchartThe concept seems simple: Identify the business goal and devise strategies to achieve it. But time and time again, businesses engage us to design integrated marketing programs before they know what their business goals are. Equally troubling are clients who tell us their goals are the tactics they’d like to use, but have no idea how the approach will accomplish their goals—and no way to demonstrate to leadership that the time, effort, and investment they’ve made on integrated marketing was worth it. To help clients organize their thinking, we like to use the Baskin Shark Objectives and Strategies Model. At first glance, this model seems to be a no-brainer. The problem is that most people don’t start at the top. They start from the middle—usually at the marketing strategy—forgetting to establish what that strategy is setting out to accomplish. Doing this puts the cart ahead of the horse, and gives the marketing strategy a high likelihood to miss the mark.

Path to Integrated Marketing

Use the following explanations as you move through the mapping process to help eliminate potential confusion:

  • Objectives: Always begin with a “To”
  • Strategies: Always begin with a “By”
  • Business objectives: What target(s) you have to hit (these usually consist of “finance director language” and are numbers based)
  • Brand objectives: What the brand stands for (these should pull in consumers to the company/brand)
  • Marketing objectives: What you need to achieve (these should push consumers toward the brand or product/service)
  • Communications objectives: How you will make everything happen
  • Media objectives: How you intend to reach the target

Once the objectives and strategies are documented, you can begin to focus on the marketing tactics that can be used to execute the strategies. These should be selected using an informed process, which includes evaluating information on the competitive landscape, your target audience, the customer journey, the value proposition, the desired action you want people to take (i.e. attitudinal or behavioral change), and the measurement criteria, just to name a few.

Information gathered at this phase forms the basis of an agency “creative brief,” a concise document that is used by account, strategy, creative, and analytics teams to gain alignment with the client on what needs to be solved, who will help solve it, and why they should care. With everyone on the same page, the teams then formulate a big idea where integrated marketing tactics can work together effectively to deliver on the objectives for the business and the brand.

This example of an integrated marketing framework shows how marketing tactics can be integrated with objectives and strategies.BC blog_Framework Example (1)


Execute. Measure. Learn.

Aligning your objectives and strategies gives you a strong foundation for effective integrated marketing—but it’s just a starting point. Great marketers constantly analyze results to see which messages move audiences, which tactics move the needle, and which strategies work best to attain business and brand goals. Use these learnings to your advantage to adapt your strategies, strengthen your brand, and create truly integrated marketing that works.