5 Key Points to Effective Integrated Communication

Our Managing Director, Sue Benson, considers whether integrated communication is dead or alive in a fragmented media landscape and shares her top tips.

The world’s gone mad – Brexit, Trump and now Ed Balls. No need to say more.

Chaos and bewilderment has extended into our own little corner of the world too; the media landscape.

Once upon a time the models were simple. We communicated one to many, media distribution was rare and audience attention was rife.

Digital disruption has shattered this peace, carving an insanely complicated and fragmented media landscape. And it looks like it’s only going to get worse, or better, depending on your point of view.

So, what can we seasoned pioneers cling on to, to guide us through this maze? In my view it all boils down to one thing. Integration.

I’ve been an advocate of integration for 20 years. Despite the challenges of isolating the effectiveness of individual channels, I’ve seen the positive benefits of the power of one big campaign idea on business success.

Originally integration was about matching luggage – consistently telling the same story in every channel repeatedly and without deviation. But, we’ve all moved on and integration is now far more sophisticated.

Here’s five key points to effective integrated communication:

1. Integrated engagement should be the new language

Communication is just so one-dimensional. But, shoppers don’t want that, they want to be involved, entertained and frankly engaged by brands. And this is just to get on their radar, let alone influence their subconscious. So if we talk about integrated engagement, it enables us to think beyond the media channels and enter a more dynamic relationship.

2. Impact point planning is vital to success

So how do you know where on earth to start? It should always be with the shopper. Creating an unrivalled knowledge and insight base about their purchase journey is critical. Our 7-stage journey goes from awareness, purchase to advocacy and enables you to identify the requirements and purpose of the touch points that impact behavior at each stage.

3. Multiple channels always outperform single channels

I neither have experience of nor have read a study, either through academia or the industry, that doesn’t support this view. Complementary efforts, repetition, synergy, encoding variability, multiple source credibility and forward encoding are just some of the reasons multiple channels work. Given the rapidly increasing number of opportunities brands now have to reach their audience, the sheer force of a multi-channel approach will only reinforce this point of view. To deliver campaign effectiveness the key is clear communication architecture built from an understanding of the impact point planning process.

4. Well defined brands are the anchor point for integrated engagement

I don’t know whether it’s the retailer in me, but I’ve always thought of brands as living breathing entities – not confined to a brand wheel or an onion. Picturing how a colleague would deliver the brand experience has an uplifting effect on the brand definition. Applied to brands or retail brands the point is the same. And it’s this clarity of thinking that is required to anchor integrated activity. No longer matching luggage,  channels must have purpose. They should be given the freedom to tell the story appropriately.

5. Distinctiveness over differentiation

Finally we believe in creating distinctive brands – whether through experiences, identities or product truths. This means finding elements that cut through the noise and draw all of the engagement together, making a brand unmistakable.

So, while integrated communication may be dead, integrated engagement is very much alive. Check out our Sharps bedrooms or Silentnight case study to see it in action.