The goal of making your agency or your work more integrated is a great one. Or at least it starts out that way. After all, you have design people over there, a content team here, a development team down in the basement, and maybe even a public relations team over in the sunny side of the office.
Why wouldn't you want everyone working together, with the same metrics and sharing the same data points? Of course you would. But then the office environment gets in the way.
There are silos. And closed offices. And different languages. And established process not conducive to new partners. And, well, sometimes sharing is hard, even amongst the most well-intentioned employees.
But we know that integrated campaigns are stronger ampaigns. They're more effective, give us clearer data points, allow for more creativity and bring greater ROI for client and agency. So that goal we started with in the beginning? We have to make good on it.
Below is a framework to help make that happen.
Get Genuine Buy-In
Creating an integrated marketing strategy isn't a new concept. But it's one that continues to be difficult for agencies to implement for all the reasons mentioned above.
Making an integrated marketing strategy work for you means getting initial buy-in from the key decision makers at the beginning. If your executive team isn't onboard or, just as important, your team leaders aren't, you're going to have an impossible time trying to push your new ideas down the line. Avoid the bottleneck later by greasing the pipe now.
One thing about buy-in – it has to come from an honest place where people are ready to pull up their sleeves, work together, and wear the same jersey. It's easy for an executive or team member to nod along in the "should we do this" meeting, but if they're not truly on board, you'll know and you'll know quickly. It will be their team dragging their feet on new processes. Or them not sharing information or letting someone else sit inside their sandbox.
True integration takes every department understanding their part in the greater whole of the organization. It sounds corny, but it's true.
Get All the Resources on the Table
Non-integrated marketing can be messy. Sure, every department may be getting things done, but what does it look like when they try to share that work with others?
You find that while your SEO, public relations, content, and social media teams are all invested in similar actions (tracking social influencers, identifying blogging partners, placing content) they're all using different tools, metrics and reports to accomplish it.
The SEO team doesn't know on which sites public relations has written contributed content and the public relations team doesn't know which sites they should be going after for the best link opportunities. And neither SEO nor public relations knows where social media already has established relationships. And content is just writing words to throw in the air with no promotion.
A step toward true integration means coming together to put all your resources, goals, technology and assets on the table to understand where your information may benefit someone else and how to get everyone pulling from the same dataset.
What tools does public relations use that would benefit other departments? What data is development or SEO sitting on that content or design would find helpful?
Can sorting this out be an absolutely monster task? Yes, absolutely. So it may not happen overnight or even in the same quarter. But make it a sticking point to get there. Aim for that.
Making data accessible to everyone is a great first step toward improvement.
Change the Language
This is difficult. (Even when your core competency happens to be words.)
Changing how you approach your marketing means you have to change your language and the way you speak about the work you do. Because both your employees and your clients learn from the language you use internally.
This is something we've struggled with at my agency. We understand that SEO, content marketing, and public relations are all often fighting for the same goal and advocating similar tactics – so what do we call it when we identify influencers and craft a campaign to reach out to them? When we put it in a proposal or when we talk about it internally, what is the language we use to describe what we're doing? Who is accountable for it?
The words you use will dictate how it's handled. Stop talking about the tactics and start creating language around the intention.
It's OK if that means creating your own language to describe the work that you're doing. I'd even argue that creating a team language will help create a common understanding a sense of purpose for people within your organization.
(I'd love to hear how other integrated organizations have handled this.)
Create the Process
You've decided you're going to do it – but how is it going to play out?
You need to build the process. That takes answering some tricky questions:
- Who are the stakeholders responsible for creating and enforcing the new process?
- Who is responsible for conceptualizing the integration of campaigns? Will it be leads from departments, a separate strategy team, someone else?
- Who will be responsible for establishing metrics in the beginning and setting up tracking?
- What are the new metrics you'll track to measure success? The metrics, themselves, may not be new but the way you're approaching them may be. Or new buckets may need to be added to address new departments.
- What will reporting look like?
- Who is accountable for effectiveness and ROI?
If you've worked in an environment where departments were siloed or isolated from one another, creating campaigns that are integrated and measurable is a formidable challenge. You're not going to get it right the first time. But by building a process and tweaking it as new experiences lead to new insights, you'll become closer with each iteration.
Check in & Celebrate. Frequently.
This isn't something you can set and forget. Changing process or behaviors isn't an easy task. People will revert back, if not intentionally, out of habit. When it happens, address it.
Have regroup meetings to address any issues, concerns, or feelings of stomped toes that may arise about how things are moving. Squashing these fires early will help everyone continue to move toward where the company is going, not how things used to be done.
Keep everyone motivated by celebrating small wins and internal achievement. When SEO and PR are able to use the same data to make decisions and create content to earn linked buzz, that's an internal win. When Analytics is brought into a traditional marketing campaign earlier to allow for URL-tracking, that's a great step for the client. When your billboard matches the messaging and voice on your website? OMG, a miracle.
Celebrate these things. Pull everyone into a quick standing meeting and show the team that it's working. That the new way of doings things is getting results. Get them excited about the results and they'll keeping working to create them.
You need your offline presence. You need your online one. And you need all the different departments that allow you to maximize both. Integrated campaigns, campaigns that track and measure the whole of your actions, are what will continue to produce the greatest ROI.