Updated: May 19
The death of Don Schultz, a man I always want to call Dutch after the legendary gangster who on his death bed revealed he could probably have been a copy writer, led me to think about the importance of integration in marketing.
I’m far from the only one: Mark Ritson, under whose tutelage I’ve learned rather more than anyone who has been in this business for as many years as I should admit was still left to learn, eulogised him far better than I can, saying, “behind the big smile was an even bigger brain, and an ability to span the world of advertising and academia.”
Still, let’s pull over the Schultz quote Ritson uses to define Integrated Marketing Communications and put it here: “The process of managing all sources of information about a product/service to which a customer or prospect is exposed, which behaviourally moves the customer towards a sale and maintains customer loyalty.” That’s what we are here to talk about. Put it on your whiteboard before we go any further. Leave it there until you can see it with your eyes shut.
My career was routed towards integrated communications rather early on. I interviewed for a job as a copy writer at Manchester agency M.A.P (ultimately merged with another agency and then lost to time). At the end of the interview they politely informed me there weren’t any actual copy writing jobs available, but would I like to work in PR? I said yes, and started the following Monday (having stopped at the library to make sure PR was what I thought it was).
And so, my first two jobs were providing the communications part of campaigns where the main money was spent on media; after MAP I moved to tech specialist SMI, which was then bought by Publicis to become Publicis Technology. Through my formative first half decade in the business everything was about being a (usually supporting) part of integrated campaigns.
I got the bug early for integration of channels and the amplification effect that gives you. I saw at once that amplification was real: the clients who chose not to spend a little extra (or at least allocate a little of what they had) for a more integrated campaign ended up with far poorer sales results than those who ‘got it’ and went for a multi-channel approach.
Even while my job titles were ‘marketing communications’ rather than ‘marketing’, I took the marketing bit seriously, building out an internal agency handling events, comms, creative, DM, advertising, digital and for our consumer business, even packaging and POS.
As PR businesses have become integrated to survive so too have trad media agencies come to realise that what is said about advertising on social media can be as important as the ad itself. Social conversations have become a vital thread, as well as largely digital ecosystems of supporters and influencers.
The bottom line is that ATL, BTL, TTL (above, below and through the line) – it’s all just tactical. And YOU SHOULD NOT BE DRIVEN BY TACTICS. You are in the business of strategy my friend, and in marketing strategy the answer can be anything you want it to be. But most likely it is everything you want it to be, judiciously chosen and run together towards the same goal.