In marketing, the term ‘integration’ gets tossed around a lot, but what does it really mean? Recently, I was engaged in a conversation with a colleague about one of her clients. Her client had just hired a new marketing manager and the new manager wanted to discuss strategy. The manager wanted to make sure that all of the communications efforts ‘sang together.’ In her new position, her vision was to create “a communications portfolio that reflects what clients expect from the brand.”
Think about that for a second. While branding is important, what really resonates with clients and prospects is marketing based on the reality of their needs, not their expectations of the organization’s brand.
A company’s brand is the client service representative and how he or she treats a client and addresses his/her needs; a company’s brand is the way that that company addresses a client’s complaint, the way it delivers on its promises and the way it lives up to the expectations of its target audiences. The bottom line is that clients and prospects care more about their own needs than their expectations from an organization’s brand. In fact, their main expectation from the brand is that their needs are met.
Does integration matter? Absolutely. Does marketing communications consistency make a difference? You bet. Does message continuity contribute to brand awareness and recognition? Of course. But all of these efforts should be focused to serve your clients and target prospects, not attempted for the sake of arbitrary organizational marketing integration.
Is your organization’s quest for consistency self-serving? Email us if you are curious.