The Magic Bean To Integrated Marketing

Today clients are in search of a magic bean they can plant to ensure their agencies work seamlessly to create results-driven, award-winning integrated programs. If only it was that easy. The question I seem to be asked most frequently lately is, “Who do you see that does integrated marketing well and what can we learn from them?”

I see many brands that do it well with different structures. It’s not the model that makes it work – it’s the talent. Team leaders on the agency side must have an appreciation for diverse disciplines, and the client must insist multiple disciplines present together. Those are the two most common threads to success.

Sounds simple but execution is complicated. First, team leaders from each discipline need to be committed to working together, and then they must encourage creatives from diverse agencies to foster a process built on open dialog and listening. If this happens, and ideas can start as discipline agnostic, you’re already ahead of the game. Once an insight and creative direction is agreed upon, each discipline can go back and do their own work-outs. However, they must then find the right moments to come back together and pressure test the integration.

The clients who get the best work must also be discipline agnostic by making sure each marketing stream is part of the process (that means committing funds to support integrated planning), and that they are open to ideas regardless of where they come from, not just led by traditional advertising. The key to the pressure test is: Does the creative work in-store, online, and in paid and earned media? Seeing it all together and debating the pros and cons as a group is critical. This process is not for the faint of heart.

The one other element that can be helpful is spending time building team dynamics between the agencies and setting up agreed upon ways of working. The time spent upfront getting to know each other and putting gates in place for moving work forward facilitates a disciplined and collaborative approach.

I can show you slides on all the models, debate whether agency or client led works best, and show you examples of effective business and creative briefs but that only creates a framework. As is the case in our business, the talent is the key. How you motivate them, make clear your expectations and choose personalities for your team that will invest in collaboration – perhaps that is the magic bean.

Barri Rafferty is Ketchum’s former CEO and current head of communications at Wells Fargo.