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One of the most popular buzz words in the advertising field right now is “integration,” or the synchronization of a company’s Website with the rest of its advertising mechanisms. Where in the past companies were able to put up Websites without having to worry much about whether their online homes matched their direct mail, magazine ads, and television promotions, today’s consumers are demanding a more recognizable advertising strategy that integrates the Web with all other mediums.
“McDonald’s has its golden arches for a reason,” says Nancy Michaels, president of GrowYourBusinessNetwork.com based in Concord, Massachusetts. “Those arches are immediately recognizable, regardless of whether you see them in front of a restaurant, on a menu, in an ad, or online.” Michaels says smaller firms can borrow a page from the fast food behemoth’s advertising strategy by striving for consistency and repetition across all mediums.
Getting there can be a task for the small to midsized business that’s boggled down with multiple opportunities to market its products and/or services via the Web. By formulating a cohesive approach that incorporates both traditional and Internet marketing, companies can maximize their advertising dollars and-perhaps more importantly-avoid isolating customers who can quickly become confused by the onslaught of information and images being hurled at them.
“An old advertising rule of thumb is that it takes six or seven impressions before people identify who you are and what you’re trying to sell them,” Michaels says. “If you’re using inconsistent marketing pieces, you dilute your brand and the ability for it to be recognized, which will ultimately affect sales.”
To avoid that trap, companies should consider the key components of an integrated marketing strategy, including the synchronization of print and broadcast marketing, e-mail advertising, search engine marketing, direct mail, and any other traditional advertising methods. Common threads through each of these mediums should include look, message, and tone-from your basic company logo to the design of its Website.
At Denver-based marketing consultancy ZoZo Group, chief marketing officer LaSheita Sayer often works with small firms in need of an integrated advertising approach. Key questions that she asks during the first interaction with those clients usually include: What is your marketing objective? Who is your target audience? What are you trying to communicate to that audience? What do you want that audience to know first about your firm? What do you want them to most remember about your company?
Because the Web is highly visual in nature, graphics and color can often make or break a company’s goal of achieving an integrated marketing approach. A brick-and-mortar boutique that sells women’s clothing, for instance, and whose storefront is painted light pink and feminine in nature, should strive to replicate that color and feel online. “If the store’s Website colors are dark blue and not as feminine, then the chances of someone passing it by online, or automatically assuming that she is on the wrong Website, are high,” says Amanda Vega, CEO at full-service, interactive ad