Venn Marketing — Why 1+1+1 Doesn’t Equal 3


When does 1+1+1 not equal 3 in Marketing ? When is it really possible to get something extra for nothing ? CMO’s are under more pressure than ever to deliver results, and are cutting budgets right and left during the biggest economic crisis since the Great Depression.  What’s a CMO to do ? For one thing, ensure that you have integrated marketing initiatives. Integrated as opposed to individual unrelated and uncoordinated marketing initiatives. We’ve all heard the overused “synergy” term one times too many, but this really is one time in Marketing where the evidence supports that the total is more than the sum of the parts.  Yet, as noted in this posting from The Marketing Fray, there still seems to be debate about the merits of this concept.

Academic research and my own real world experience demonstrate that an integrated set of marketing activities are more effective than the sum total of the same activities executed individually. Integrated means that consumers are seeing and hearing the same marketing message in a coordinated way across different and distinct marketing touch points.  An example would be a consumer who sees TV advertising, is then exposed to a YouTube video, hears something about the brand from a friend, sees a paid search ad, and goes to the firms web site–all with the same brand message.

I like to visualize this phenomena, and its impact, as a Venn diagram–overlapping circles that look like this:

When 1+1+1 = More than 3 in Marketing

When 1+1+1 = More than 3 in Marketing

So, why is integrated marketing more effective ? Isn’t this just black magic or voodoo marketing ? Here’s why it works. Communicating your brand’s benefit is central to convincing consumers to buy your brand in preference to competitors. Communicating it across multiple marketing contact points increases impact–the message is reinforced in multiple ways and not just from the same medium. It’s as if everywhere you turn, you’re hearing the same benefit message. Think it might deepen a consumers understanding of your brand’s value proposition ?

Outside of CPG, where marketing functions are often spread across the organization and operate independent of one another, this is a huge opportunity.  Typically, marketing functions do their own planning without a coordinated approach to having a single, integrated marketing plan. Too often, each Marketing department is like an orchestra, with its own conductor and sheet music, resulting in a cacophony of marketing activities. What’s needed is an integrated set of marketing activities that are mutually supportive and reinforce a consistent message across marketing touch points . One conductor, one sheet of music, one symphony — and better results.

So what’s needed for integrated marketing to work ?

  • Benefit/Brand Message — A foundational requirement is complete clarity around the brand benefit and value proposition, and a common understanding across departments of the brand positioning.
  • Initiative Integration — Marketing activities need to be grouped or clustered around key events or ideas, each with a single minded objective. All of the Marketing departments need to contribute to each marketing event in a coordinated manner.
  • Planning Process — Intention is great, but a disciplined marketing planning process is an necessary enabler of integrated plans. Clear roles and responsibilities are imperative, and there can only be a single owner of the marketing plan.

Delivering truly integrated marketing initiatives isn’t easy. It takes leadership from the CMO. The path of least resistance is always for each group to do it’s own thing–which is also much less effective. Which is why we need more Venn Marketing — where 1+1+1 equals more than 3.

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