Five ways to integrate the big idea

Posted by on Jul 5, 2011

There’s a lot of talk amongst marketers about the “integrated solution” and the “integration of creative, technology and tactics,” or some version of that secret communications weapon. But it’s always positioned as a goal to be attained. Rarely is the integration of the idea spoken of in terms of how integrated thinking can be used to get to the goal of a truly and effectively integrated campaign, or what’s known in some circles as marketing nirvana.

So, here is a quick checklist of five things you can do to check your approach on the road to a brilliantly interwoven, cogent, endlessly engaging campaign with the fortitude and audacity to affect a change in behavior, and, dare I say it,  push the metrics. There, I said it. So here you go:

  1. Beat the living daylights out of the idea.
    When you have an idea that sounds really good, and is attractive in every way, take it out behind the critical woodshed and give it a whoopin’.  Is it new, or just new to you? Is the competition doing something similar? If so, can you do it better? Is it truly integrating with all the other marketing initiatives? Does each campaign element create momentum for the next, or is it all stand alone execution? Ask “why?” Can it deliver a user experience beyond the digital realm? How is it going to work to change behaviors? That’s just a starter slate of critical body shots your idea will need to stand up to.  If your idea can stand up to tough challenges from the team over time, it just might be ready for the real fight – in the marketplace and toe-to-toe with the competition.
  2. Make your idea an experience.
    An integrated idea is not two–dimensional. It’s real. You should be able to literally reach out and touch it, or lean forward and become immersed in it. It causes action. And reaction. If it’s truly integrated, people will at some point feel it. It’s not just a tagline–print–ad–TV–and–banner–ad mélange. It’s an insight turned into something, or several things that work together to create a dialog and a relationship that results in action.
  3. Ask the stupid question.
    Integrated thinking requires innovative thinking. You don’t start with the tactics, you start with the behavior of the consumer you’re trying to connect with. Which leads to questions like, “Can you print coupons using an iPad with street teams?” Who knows? Somebody will. But you’ll never get to those unexpected (and delightful to the consumer) solutions unless the question–asking flows freely and without consequence. Being dumb can lead to some pretty smart ideas.
  4. Look for moments first, not media.
    The tactics or media vehicles you choose should coordinate strategically with your consumer’s life – and sometimes that means the media solutions are a jumping off point. The link you’re looking for might be an event, or and environment or (your idea goes here). Dynamic integrated ideas intercept consumers at the most opportune and beneficial times in his or her day – no matter where they are, what they read, or what they’re doing. Capture the moment, serve the market.
  5. Think linear.
    Deep breath, creative dreamers. We need to make a slight focus shift as we become adept at integration. We have to look at the complete ecosystem of influences our ideas will live in. They must create some sort of influence/action/reaction. If (A), then (B), then (C). If (C ), then back to (A). Or, basically, make sure you’re creating a chain reaction so that each element of the campaign idea leads to another element of the campaign and ultimately engages the consumer with the product, service or offer. Make the connections, measure the results, repeat.

There are probably fifty more great ways to make sure you’re creating solidly integrated ideas. Start with these five, and you’re on your way to discovering the rest.