Business-to-Business Marketing: Integrated Marketing Communications
Back in 1984, when I had just left my sales job with a large computer systems
company and struck out on my own as a freelance writer and marketing consultant,
I made a habit of making telephone calls in my search for new business. "Dialing
for dollars," I used to call it.
After more than a few conversations with various executives and their secretaries,
someone asked me exactly what it was that I was selling.
"I'm a practitioner of integrated marketing communications," I said.
There was a pause at the other end of the line, one I have heard many times since.
Whenever I announce, as I have been doing for twenty years now, that I am a
"practitioner of integrated marketing communications," I can count on
that pause, and a question I have heard many times since, as well.
"Sort of like advertising?" came the slightly puzzled voice from
the other end of the line over two decades ago, and still does to this day.
"Yes, sort of," I responded. And I might as well have added "sort
of like public relations and Web strategies, direct mail, special events and a
host of other marketing specialties, too."
The order of the day
Don't mistake me, I'm not one to embroider or try to make simple things complicated.
If you think a great ad, a feature article about your organization or a new Web
site are the order of the day, I'm your guy. Need a killer appeal letter or a
knockout party to show your sales staff, dealers or donors how much you care?
I'll be glad to supply the "smoke and mirrors," including a fireworks
display (one of my clients is a world leader) that will leave your staff or supporters
speechless with wonder.
But after 20+ years in the marketing business, I still tell people I practice
integrated marketing communications, and not because I'm stubborn or needlessly
provocative. My reasons are straightforward: Simply put, I know of no other way
for a chief executive officer in any business or not-for-profit organization to
carry his or her message to the marketplace, build a brand, and sustain it. Period!
The key to marketing
Some will say such a position is indefensible, and that integrated marketing
communications is in itself a misperception. That the key to all marketing - and
Peter Drucker has said that marketing and operational refinements are about all
that's left in building an enterprise - is branding. But I will have to politely
Whether this is a chicken or egg question I do not know, but separating the
type, character and application of communications from its tangible result is
a task I will leave to others. At the end of the day I believe the integration
of multiple messages via diverse media across a defined span of time is vital
to brand building, so much so that the brand itself and the message that carries
its attributes become virtually indistinguishable.
Or to refer back to Peter Drucker's friend Marshall McLuhan, the media really
is the message.
A logical sequence
In any case, you'll need to add marketing strategy and program development
to my integration list, too, because whether a marketing program relies on just
two or three elements, it will need to be organized, staged and placed in a logical
sequence consistent with your overall sales and revenue goals.
Less they be forgotten, please allow me to add research and analysts' input
to the process, especially in the technology sector, where the pace of innovation
and competitive environment are epochal in their force and volume. Blink once
in any number of technology marketplaces and you will be passed, blink twice and
In reading these comments, I have no doubt you are wondering about your own
circumstances, specifically what it will take to move your own organization to
the "next level," or at the very least meet your immediate goals, whether
they be short-, near- or long-term.
Over 40 years in business
Whether I am a hopeless dreamer or a glutton for detail I do not know, but
I am always pleased to hear about your plans and ambitions. In over 40 years in
business and education, as a theatrical producer, editor, teacher, writer and
marketing consultant, my greatest pleasure still lies in meeting with inspired
leaders, people like yourself who see things as they are and wonder how they can
be made better.
Peter Golden comments on public affairs and business for
the MetroWest Daily News and is the principal of the Golden Group, a marketing
communications firm. Contact him at <firstname.lastname@example.org>.
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