I have a pet peeve, and it’s marketing popcorn. No, not the marketing of popcorn. “Marketing popcorn.” This is the exact opposite of truly effective integrated marketing.

Marketing popcorn = marketing tactics that are planned and executed independently of each other and with no interaction or cross-functional coordination. To the prospect, they appear random and unconnected.

Oh, here’s a press release. Pop!

Let’s demo at a tradeshow. Pop!

Time to blog. Pop!

Lots of random SEO terms. Pop! Pop! Pop!

A big challenge for any marketer is to coordinate their individual efforts with other team members. Traditionally, marketing organizations create silos. This isn’t necessarily bad nor intentional; it just happens. This is especially true when a company is divided into business units that compete for limited or centralized marketing resources.

Too many personas

Usually, the first sign of “dis-connectedness” is when multiple marketers or business units create their own personas even though other corners of the company are selling to the exact same prospect. In truth, the persona is independent of the product you are trying to sell. There is no reason why a company should not share their persona drafts across business units. This becomes even more important when you want to sell a solution to a customer, not just a set of individual products.

The truth about integrated marketing

The fact of the matter is that it is easy to say the magic words, “integrated marketing.” It is much harder to execute. A case in point: early in my career I ran the PR team at hi-tech giant. I sat next to the advertising manager. You think we’d talk to each other. But we rarely did. Each of us were heads-down, pedal to the metal, focused on executing specific tactics that had been assigned to us. I received a personal kick to the kidneys when I was working on a prime editorial review and cover shot for a new product that was soon to launch. We conducted the editorial pitches and were promised a wonderful spread in a leading tech journal. When the day of the planned editorial arrived, there was no mention of our new product. I was horrified and on edge because I had promised great coverage for the product team. I called the magazine to find out why we weren’t on the cover. They told me that since our ads for the new product started appearing the prior week, the announcement was no longer news. I was horrified! What ads? I knew of no ad placements covering this product. Alas, it turned out that my advertising colleague had been working his media magic on the product I was announcing and neither of us knew what the other was doing. Because the ad hit the week before the editorial, our marketing activities were out of order and unsynchronized. The magazine pulled the editorial and cover shot. This hurt our company’s reputation with the magazine, and the ad manager and I received a stern talking-to from our boss. Ouch!

The lesson here: all marketers need to break out of silo’d behavior and silo’d thinking!

A new approach to marketing operations

As my boss beat me about the head and shoulders, she said:

The irony of marketing is that we aren’t better communicators!

Sure, I knew PR inside and out. My advertising colleague was one of the best I’ve ever had the pleasure to work with. However, we failed to communicate internally. There was no excuse for us not to have known and thus coordinated our activities.

To break this viscous cycle of inward thinking, we needed to reassess our marketing operations and adopt a truly, empowering integrated marketing campaign approach. And our first step was to leave our egos at the door and embrace a unified planning process that encouraged everyone to work toward a shared objective. This was hard work. It took 6 months. But we figured it out. I kept notes and records of everything and then wrote it down in my first book, Marketing Campaign Development.

Since publishing this book in 2008, the book has been adopted by companies around the world. If you think your marketing operations could use a tune up, let me know. My colleagues and I can assist you with a quick assessment of your organization where we look at a cross section of your people, plans, and processes. We can help you build your marketing 2.0 organization. In the meantime, you can find more best practices and war stories on my blog. Or, drop me an email.

Sometimes we all need to be reminded that PR, advertising, demand gen, events, social media, & web people are really all on the same team. Let’s leave the popcorn to the movie theaters.