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Integrated Marketing Part I

What is integrated marketing?  The most intuitive definition for integrated marketing is - all elements that create a seamless customer experience. It's very broad and a little vague; however, when you begin to look elsewhere for a definitive answer there does not appear to be an agreed upon approach.

The Business Dictionary's definition is as follows:

Strategy aimed at unifying different marketing methods such as mass marketing, one-to-one marketing, and direct marketing. Its objective is to complement and reinforce the market impact of each method, and to employ the market data generated by these efforts in product development, pricing, distribution, customer service, etc.

This implies that integrated marketing entails combining data generated by different modes of marketing or marketing methodologies to enhance the product offer, and ultimately the customer's experience of the brand.

Wikipedia's definition is as follows:
Integrated Marketing Communications (IMC) is defined as customer centric, data driven method of communicating with the customers. IMC is the coordination and integration of all marketing communication tools, avenues, functions and sources within a company into a seamless program that maximizes the impact on consumers and other end users at a minimal cost. This management concept is designed to make all aspects of marketing communication such as advertising, sales promotion, public relations, and direct marketing work together as a unified force, rather than permitting each to work in isolation.

Note that the focus here is completely on communications. If you search for “integrated marketing strategy” you are re-routed to “marketing strategy,” which does not discuss an integrated approach. The data collected under this definition is presumed to enhance customer communications and marketing tactics, not the product.

 In Businessweek we find the following definition:

Integration means communicating a consistent identity from message to message, and medium to medium, and (more importantly) delivering consistently on that identity. It requires not only the identification of a powerful, unifying strategy and compelling voice for your brand, but the discipline to roll it into every aspect of your organization—from advertising to sales, customer service to customer relationship management programs (and beyond). It’s not for the faint of heart.

Again, this definition leans toward integrated marketing as a communications strategy. It presupposes reviewing all strategic efforts throughout the organization and assigning one comprehensive identity that can be effectively communicated to the consumer through the corporation's marketing efforts.

All three perspectives offer a slightly different approach, all of which are absolutely correct and necessary. Integrated marketing by definition does not occur in a silo. It is broad and wide reaching, incorporating all facets of marketing and facets of other disciplines to accomplish the goal of creating a seamless experience for the consumer. As the business dictionary definition suggests, applying the market data to product development, enhances the customer's desire for the product or service. Therefore, the marketing experience is enhanced by improving aspects other than marketing communications, which is the focus of the other two approaches.

The key to this concept lies in the holistic nature of the word integration: the act of combining or adding parts to make a unified whole; therefore, all disciplines, all departments, and all processes of an organization should be considered to provide the customer the best overall/ongoing experience possible.