iMedia Connection has recently published “A Quick Guide to Integrated Marketing”. It’s another take on the all-too-familiar challenge of aligning multiple marketing initiatives across multiple channels with the goal of “integrating” these efforts to achieve marketing nirvana. Only one problem with this piece. What about the TOUCHPOINTS?
Before I go on—here is how I differentiate a channel from a touchpoint.
A method of communication or interactivity that attracts, engages, or raises awareness among consumers. Channels may also involve participation and community especially among emerging media. Examples: TV, Radio, Direct Mail, Web, Blogs, Social Media, etc.
How customers interact with a business or brand. Touchpoints usually involve some type of transaction or facilitation of a service. Touchpoints are experience-driven with the quality of the experience determining the effectiveness of a touchpoint. Example: catalogue, online catalogue, ATM, retail, online shopping, customer service, banking, online banking etc.
Now back to the article:
“Integrated marketing means that your brand messages resonate in complementary -- rather than contradictory -- ways across marketing channels.”
Brand Messages. That’s the key theme of the entire piece. Messaging the brand across multiple CHANNELS. There is nothing wrong with this—but here is the point. If marketing firms and agencies are serious about providing a comprehensive “brand message” across the media landscape—then they need to at least CONSIDER touch points too. I’ll use Citibank—my favorite example. Great online banking. Great offline banking. Great ATM Experience. And great marketing initiatives across all those wonderful “channels”. I know there are many agencies behind this (in addition to Citibank)—but I would like to think that somewhere, someone is thinking about how all of the marketing initiatives and customer experiences come together.
“Every medium, channel, format and vehicle from online marketing, direct mail, television, print, billboards, guerilla marketing and so forth has its distinctive strengths and weaknesses.”
Again—no mention of the customer experience anywhere in this “Integration”. So here’s how I’ll end this. If marketers really want to “integrate”—then we will talk about experiences as well. Until then it’s partial integration at best.