By: Megan Battersby, Marketing and Communications Specialist
The triangle is the strongest shape, retaining its structural integrity even under stress. For this reason it is often used as a foundational building block – so it might not be a coincidence that integrated marketing communications can be broken into three foundational elements. Integrated marcom focuses on the holistic nature of the customer, product and service experience, with all aspects working together in symbiosis. These parts can be grouped into the following:
1) Outbound Marketing
2) Inbound Marketing
3) Social and Relationship Management
Outbound marketing, also known as interruptive marketing, is a more traditional approach and the one that typically comes to mind first when one considers marketing, (thanks in no small part to Mad Men). It consists of paid media advertising, including print, TV and online, as well as e-mail and telemarketing. Outbound marketing has been criticized for being expensive and difficult for measuring ROI – a “spraying and praying” tactic. But this doesn’t mean that there is no place for outbound marketing in a well-rounded marcom strategy, especially when a company is trying to raise their profile and reach a broad audience quickly.
The opposite of outbound marketing then must be inbound marketing, a less disruptive form of the art. Inbound marketing, also called earned or permissions marketing, has become an industry mainstay, especially with the advent of the online world. As consumers have become more savvy with greater demands, they have gained control of the buying process. Marketers therefore need to create relevant, engaging, and even entertaining content to draw in new customers and nurture existing ones. Blogs, whitepapers, advice columns and newsletters are all examples of inbound marketing. SEO also makes up a large portion of inbound marketing, and competition for premium key word ranking is high.
Social and Relationship Management
While one can argue that this category includes elements of both inbound and outbound marketing, I am giving it its own category because it is a unique beast, deserving special attention. This form of marketing actually has deep roots, going back to street peddlers and even clergymen – all of whom have historically maintained strong ties with their customers. What makes one brand sell over another? Why has Coke been more successful than Pepsi? The answer is brand loyalty and the connection people feel with a company’s brand image. This is why social and relationship management is not limited to public relations, earned and social media, but is also tightly connected to a brand’s culture.
While I’ve separated integrated marketing communications into three elements, it is essential to remember that they are most effective when they work together – only then can you begin to reap the rewards.