Integrated Marketing To Clever Monkeys (the more things change…)

Ian Lurie

I am sitting in an coliform-riddled Best Western in Peru, Indiana right now (I’m not kidding about the e coli part), drinking bottled water and pondering the meaning of a marketer’s life. The answer, I think, is ‘Integrated Marketing’.
Here’s a conversation I had today with one of my sharpest clients:
Me Smiling victoriously: …and internet sales are up over 25% since 2005-2006.
Client Frowning unhappily: Sure, but what if our catalogs did that?
Me Nodding intelligently: Catalogs and other offline stuff definitely drive customers. Our online marketing insures that you’re visible when they look for you.
Client Parrying vigorously: Yes, but chances are they would’ve found us anyway.
Me Gurgling internally: Well, we know that 60% of your search sales were new. But we can never attribute any one sale to any one source. So you may be right – our work may not matter.

This does have a happy ending. Keep reading…

OUCH. The Truth Hurts

Welcome to life as a marketer. We can crow about analytics, talk about the beautiful stats we can provide, and wave three-dimensional bar charts until we tear our rotator cuffs. The truth is, though, that nothing is certain.
We’ve faced this problem for decades, if not centuries. Human beings are funny beasts. They don’t see an ad and make a beeline for the nearest web site. Any marketing has to chip away at their awareness, slowly, until it makes an impact.

Those Clever Monkeys

We are, after all, the cleverest of monkeys. You can’t expect us to make quick, easily-tracked decisions.
I have 2 kids – my typical train of thought is something like this:

  1. This is a great TV show. I hope the main character doesn’t die of that heart attack.
  2. Hahaha that’s a funny commercial for get well cards.
  3. Man, I need to go to the gym.
  4. I’ll ride the stationary bike for a while.
  5. Stationery. Hmmmm… I need to do cards for my clients.
  6. Man, the kids are awfully quiet. This is great. I can write a blog entry.
  7. What’s that burning smell?
  8. An hour later: Man, I need to go to the gym…

If I go online and buy a stationary bike or some nifty note cards, who gets the credit? The agency that created the commercial? The writer for the TV show? The web site designer?
It’s impossible to say. So what’s the answer?

Integrated Marketing

I told you there’s a happy ending. Here’s how the discussion ended (paraphrased, and continued from above):
Me: It’s certainly possible that our work did little. But we both know better. 15 months ago you didn’t earn a 3:1 ROI from pay per click marketing. Now you do. Online revenue is up, and nothing else explains that, either.
Client: That’s true…
Me: Everything you do to market your business, including internet marketing, adds up. Folks see your products in a magazine. A week later, they search for your name online, but misspell it. They see our PPC ad and click it. Then they buy. The magazine ad started the process. Our ad finished it.
Client: That makes sense.
I just described the results of integrated marketing: A message in one medium generates behavior in another. If you’re positioned to take advantage, that behavior leads to a new customer. If you’re not, someone else reaps the benefit.
Don’t try to take 100% credit. Instead, show how you played your part in the larger customer conversation.
With that, I bid you good night. I have to figure out how I’m going to boil water using the hotel’s iron…

Ian Lurie

Ian Lurie is the founder of Portent. He's been a digital marketer since the days of AOL and Compuserve (that's more than 25 years, if you're counting). Ian's recorded training for, writes regularly for the Portent Blog and has been published on AllThingsD, Smashing Magazine, and TechCrunch. Ian speaks at conferences around the world, including SearchLove, MozCon, Seattle Interactive Conference and ad:Tech. He has published several books about business and marketing: One Trick Ponies Get Shot, available on Kindle, The Web Marketing All-In-One Desk Reference for Dummies, and Conversation Marketing. Ian is now an independent consultant and continues to work with the Portent team, training the agency group on all things digital. You can find him at

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  1. Marketing is about suggestion. Coke suggests that they taste better than Pepsi. Car magazines suggest you’ll get hotter chics with a tricked out ride. In this information age, more people do their research on products and choices of vendors before making the decision to buy. I rarely buy print magazines these days, but when I do see something of interest, I hit the ‘net and look for follow up material.

  2. Integrated Marketing To Clever Monkeys
    It’s important that we explain integrated marketing to our clients. It’s not just a small side benefit – it’s the core of what we do as marketers.

  3. If “marketing” is the process of leveraging an organisation’s resources to deliver an answer to a customer need – which, in the simplest terms, it was last time I looked, then “Integrated Marketing” is a far bigger subject than your piece suggests. I think what you are focussing on is “Integrated Marketing Communications” which is but one chapter in the Integration story.
    Integrated marketing comunications is the practice of getting your three communications ducks in a row – that’s (1) a BIG (Brand) idea consistently represented in (2) propositions tailored to segments, conveyed (3) via a media chain that has no gaps and the mimimum of overlap between levels or media. This is only half the marketing story though.
    Integrated marketing does all of this, broadens the application of communications, mostly by taking an inward focus and tackles the thorny issues of how to deliver the promise you’ve invested a fortune in communicating to your market. Because, if you don’t deliver you are, frankly, stuffed!
    However, all of this is still just common wisdom, What’s happening now is far more exciting. New Model Marketing or “Integrated Business” brings business and marketing elements, together in a single strategy, places the brand at the core of the organisation and marketing in the driving seat, because that’s how it should be. In the years to come there just won’t be any organisations left that aren’t like this and time is running out for organisations to make the necessary changes.
    Act now and it doesn’t have to be traumatic. It will involve a change of structure a new perspective and new processes, but the result will be a leaner, smarter, more efficient organisation with a signficantly inceased ROI. The REALLY good news though is that its not just great for client organisations, it can be the salvation of marketing services firms who are aready seeing their revenues decline because they are too narrowly focussed.

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