When most of us hear the word “integration” we think of technology and how different devices (smart phones, tablets, computers—and even smart watches) need to be able to talk to one another. Maybe we even think about how Google has pushed for mobile-friendly sites and actually “punishes” sites that don’t perform well on mobile platforms.
Those are all legitimate concerns, but when it comes to success in marketing, integration needs be much broader than device compatibility. It really needs to encompass your whole marketing strategy—and it needs to begin with your messaging.
Technology may make it easier and faster to connect with your audience, but it doesn’t excuse you from thinking about your audience. It doesn’t matter how fast or how often you touch your potential customers if you’re not consistent in your messaging and your approach. Your identity, your unique value proposition, and the way you do business all need to be integrated throughout all of your marketing efforts. Your message needs to be consistent whether you’re sending a mailing or an email, posting new content on your website, or publishing a blog.
You may integrate offline and online efforts. Maybe you’ll use Twitter to alert prospects about an event (such as an open house). Maybe you’ll incorporate a card mailing for the event as a reminder. And you might even supplement both of those with a blog that talks about the event. In each of those cases, your messaging needs to be consistent. You want to give people the same information. You want your prospective clients to have the same experience regardless of which method you used to reach them.
Integration even extends to the look and feel of your communications. Your logo, the colors that you use, the language that you use all need to be consistent so that your audience has no doubt about who they are dealing with—or what you are offering.
For all their shortcomings, that was something McDonald’s did right. Every piece of marketing they did and every customer experience they engaged in was integrated. You could walk into any McDonald’s in the world and you pretty much knew what you were going to get.
So when you think about integrating your various marketing efforts, think beyond the technology. Yes, it’s important that all the parts “connect.” Yes it’s important to use a variety of methods to make sure you reach your audience. But it’s just as important to make sure your message is integrated—consistent—regardless of what tool carries that message.