Back in the late 90’s (when I was roaming the halls of the University of South Carolina), I took a class called “Integrated Marketing Communications”. This was during the time of landlines and dial-up internet; when you were charged a fee when you sent a text message; and before Facebook (and even MySpace) became a thing.
Back then, print played a large role as one of the tactics used in integrated marketing, along with things like billboards, radio ads and television spots. A lot of those tactics have changed in the last 20 years, but paper still plays an important role.
For those non-marketing majors, you may be asking yourself what exactly is integrated marketing?
Integrated marketing is defined as “aligning your marketing channels to promote your products and services in tandem, typically through a strategic campaign. Integrated marketing also works to align the primary brand message that’s being delivered through your marketing channels and assets”. (For a more complete article about Integrated Marketing, check out this blog from Hubspot.)
Ok….so what does that really mean?
Imagine receiving a printed brochure from your favorite brand or product. You then visit their website, that has completely different branding and messaging than the brochure. Then you see an ad pop-up on Facebook that carries different branding and messaging than the brochure and website. This is a great example of integrated marketing gone bad.
Integrated marketing that is considered “good” takes all the different marketing channels and aligns them so they present a unified marketing front. What this means is that any medium you choose – print, email, website, social media, packaging (just to name a few) – all utilize the same brand guidelines and are consistent with each other.
This unification helps in a couple of ways:
- It helps you reach a wider audience than a single marketing channel.
- It provides you with a greater chance of being seen on multiple channels, keeping you top of mind.
- It helps build trust with your customers as they see consistent messaging on multiple channels.
- It helps you save money since assets can be shared by different marketing channels.
So where does print fit into all this?
Paper and print serve as a great base for any integrated marketing campaign. Consumer reliance on digital devices and solutions has accelerated in the past year. However, digital channels should only be part of the channel mix – more traditional modes like direct mail and print should also be included.
Including direct mail and print in your integrated marketing campaign provides unique benefits not found in digital marketing. Creating synchronicity between these elements is easier than ever.
The past year has changed how we eat, shop and explore – so QR codes are having their moment (once again). QR codes are an easy way to help brands and businesses connect with their customers, and can be very valuable to your integrated marketing (if used the right way). They are also easy to generate, and most phones can open them without any special phone apps (like in years past).
When using a QR code, you need to as specific as possible about what that code will provide your audience, why they should scan it and how fast their engagement will be. Be sure to give your customers something more than just taking them to your website. Consider offering them a special deal or exclusive content if they access your QR code. When used correctly as part of your integrated marketing, QR codes can enhance your print messaging, create a unique customer experience or encourage customers to do something else.
The lessons I learned from that class 20+ years ago, still hold true – integrated marketing communications is the best way to present a cohesive, consistent brand experience to your customers. And though the past 20 years has brought about many changes to how we market, print marketing will always have a place.
(And before I forget, we feature QR Codes throughout our Paper Matters magazine. Be sure to check out past issues to see QR codes at work withing integrated marketing!)