...it helps to know what Integrated Marketing is. This piece on AdAge.com by Al Ries attempts to debunk the notion that integrated marketing is the wave of the future. Instead, it falls flat on its face.
Integrated marketing is NOT simply the notion of putting all of your services under one roof. Integrated marketing is a philosophy and, in some cases, a process that ensures that all marketing-related activities flow from a central marketing strategy.
Ries mentions that the trend in marketing services these days is toward specialization. While this is true, it has little bearing on the trend toward integrated marketing. Why? Let me give you an example.
Yesterday, one of my partners and I were out of the office all day at an off-site brainstorming for one of our clients, The MathWorks. We work on this client with one of our partner agencies, Magnitude 9.6, so the services are not housed under one roof. Prior to this meeting, we had worked on communications and media strategy documents that were with the client, and we were having our kickoff brainstorming to discuss marketing tactics that would align with the strategy we had laid out.
The strategy documents were contributed to by media, account management, creative, account planning and technology. Each of these disciplines were represented at the brainstorming. And when we came up with ideas, each discipline contributed to the formation of each idea and the discussion around how, when and why to execute it. Media ideas came from creative. PR ideas came from media. All sorts of ideas came from different disciplines and were vetted and contributed to by every discipline in the room. This is integration at work.
Integration is not housing all of your marketing services in one building or organization and slapping an "integrated" label on it. Integration is the consistent application of ideas that flow from the same communications and marketing strategy, leveraging the unique contributions of each marketing discipline.
So let's just cut the crap with the "integration is dead" proclamations, shall we?