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A Guide to Successful Integration

With consumers' consumption of media becoming increasingly fragmented across multiple channels, having a successful integrated marketing program is more important than ever. But before you take off the marketing gloves and attempt to deliver a knock-out surround-sound program, be sure to follow these lucky seven must-dos:

Identify the big idea first
Develop a big idea first and then identify how to best communicate that idea to your consumers. Big ideas are medium-agnostic; once the big idea is understood, you can then identify which medium would be best to deliver that message or experience… whether it be print, broadcast, online, an event, or any combination thereof. As an example, a big idea should not start as an "awesome television commercial" or a "fabulous promotional website," but rather, from a concept, key insight or intuition you have with your consumers.

Start early!
When you're contemplating an out-of-the-box advertising or marketing solution that involves multiple forms of media, plan ahead as early as possible. Time is a marketer's worst enemy and the more time you allocate for brainstorming and big ideas, the more likely they are to come to fruition. Integrated marketing should not be an afterthought; it should be in the DNA of your campaign from the start.

Enroll multiple partners
Brands should be armed with best-in-class partners that are experts in each strategic and tactical area you wish to pursue. If you have a great advertising agency but they lack true experience in event marketing, don't compromise the big idea; get an expert partner to the table to help out. By leveraging the brain power of multiple partners, you'll be able to develop an excellent program with great results. The more diverse the pool of partners is, the more likely you will be to innovate.

Define roles, responsibilities and compensation
While having many smart heads at the table can lead to innovation, be sure to define roles and responsibilities from the start. While integration is the ideal output, you need to differentiate expectations from each player. Without clear roles in place, you run the risk of in-fighting. And worse, if one partner thinks another partner may poach their concept, you run the risk of them not even sharing the concept in the first place.

Never move on a big idea with an "eat what you kill" philosophy with your partners-- otherwise, your end product may look more like the aftermath of a great kill on the Serengeti than a killer integrated program.

In addition to establishing roles and responsibilities from the start, a fair compensation strategy should also be crafted. If you have multiple agency partners in the mix, consider splitting compensation equally. By doing so, you'll have partners vying for the best possible big idea rather than for the largest fee-generating piece of the pie.

Establish a communication process
Leverage technology to keep a clear line of communication open at all stages of your project across all partners and players. Whether it's a commercial software package such as Microsoft Project, or a homegrown web-based communication platform, make sure everyone is aware of timelines, elements of integration, and creative as it unfolds. Schedule regularly occurring team conference calls to keep all players aligned with each other. When roles and responsibilities are defined, also decide which entity will act as the project manager of sorts to make sure essential information is known and shared by all.

Craft success metrics
While developing an integrated effort may be a success on its own, be sure to craft metrics of success prior to launch so that you know how to gauge the performance of your effort. Are the results scalable? Is one metric more important than another? Are the right tools in place to measure program impact?

Don't stop at launch
Lastly, the spirit of integration shouldn't end at program launch. Keep all partners in the loop of how the program is performing; maintain regular communication and program updates; optimize all program components wherever possible and as frequently as possible. Make sure everyone learns what's working and what isn't so that the next big idea and the next integrated marketing program evolves and becomes better than the first.

Michael Konowicz is vice president, integrated strategy & media, MarketSource IMS. .


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