The goal of this post is to convince you that adopting an integrated approach to ALL communications and marketing efforts is the one and only way to achieve true success.
But before I dive into the “convincing” part, let’s make sure we’re all on the same page about what integrated communications means.
Integrated communications is aligning your messaging across all paid, earned, shared and owned channels. And if you aren’t clear on the importance of integrating those four buckets, stop reading this post and go learn about the PESO model. (Then come back here and finish reading!)
Now that you know what integrated communications means and why it’s important, let’s examine three reasons why you should adopt an integrated communications program.
1. Message consistency.
While a variety of channels and tactics encompass an integrated communications program, one element that must remain consistent is your messaging. If you start using different messaging in your digital ads than you use in your email marketing, guess what happens? Not only do you confuse the heck out of the people you’re trying to reach, but you could also be limiting the efficacy of your ads by sending your audience mixed messages on the action you want them to take, whether that’s buying a product or signing up for a newsletter.
Now, this doesn’t mean using the same exact copy (verbatim) on all channels. Different channels have different audiences – do not allow yourself to copy/paste and call it a day!
Think back to the fundamentals of PR and building a key messaging document. If you’re announcing a new product or service, your key messaging document should include:
- How does it work?
- Why is this important and relevant (tie back to a hot topic or key trend in the industry)?
- Why should your audience(s) care?
- How does this make your company stand out among competitors?
When you look at the various channels that make up an integrated communications program, some allow more opportunity for long-form content (emails and blog posts) where you can include several messaging points. Others will require you to choose the most relevant message for the channel and associated audience. But the point is, if you choose to focus on the “why should your audience” care message for your digital ads, that same message point better be consistent across all other channels and content, too.
2. Seamless user experience.
This goes hand-in-hand with consistent messaging. If you want to build trust and get people to buy your product/service, you must fulfill your marketing promise and create an excellent user experience. This happens when all marketing and communications efforts are working in concert. If your teams are working in silos, there’s a good chance that seamless user experience isn’t happening.
Imagine you’re asked to create copy for a landing page to promote a webinar one of your subject matter experts is hosting. You work closely with the SME to understand the webinar content and the main topics she’s going to cover. But somewhere along the lines, there’s a communication gap and no one is communicating with the team creating the paid ads to drive traffic to the webinar registration page. They use totally different copy/messaging in their paid ads to promote the webinar.
Now put yourself in the recipient’s shoes. You see a LinkedIn ad promoting a webinar that’s related to a hot topic in your industry. You click to learn more and register, but when you get to the registration page, it says something totally different from the copy in the ad. The copy in the ad is what enticed you in the first place. Think you’re going to register for the webinar? Not likely. You’ll close the tab, disappointed and confused.
That is NOT fulfilling the marketing promise and that is NOT creating a great user experience. Had the team in this example been using a fully operational integrated communications program, all parties involved with promoting the webinar would be communicating and working together to drive registrations.
3. Authority and thought leadership.
This is utopia. Media view your company as credible and frequently seek out your leadership as a source for content. Your content ranks high in search engine results because you’ve figured out how to make Google view your company as an authoritative resource. Your customers trust you and you’ve developed strong brand affinity and loyalty.
Credibility, authority, loyalty, thought leadership – these all live in the “sweet spot” of the integrated communications diagram where paid, earned, shared and owned intersect.
These concepts all ladder up to reputation. That’s what PR professionals inherently do best – build a positive reputation for the people and companies they represent. But if your internal teams aren’t aligned, or worse, are competing with each other, reputation suffers.
Of course, the reasons why you should adopt an integrated communications program go well beyond those detailed here, but message consistency, user experience and authority are three critical factors for any brand, regardless of the industry or audience.
This is a topic I could talk about for DAYS! Reach out to me if you’d like to chat more. For an example of how we put integrated communications into action, read our Buddy’s Pizza downtown Detroit grand opening case study.
Nikki Little is Franco’s VP of strategy. Connect with her on LinkedIn.