InsightsPOSTED April 23, 2015

Is it important to integrate marketing & communications?

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puzzle missing pieces

I had the opportunity recently to represent APEX at a 3-day Integrated Marketing Communications training session for our client, Johnson & Johnson Inc. Canada.  The session was designed to roll out the company’s new approach to marketing, including a “hub and spoke” system for its global megabrands, aimed at creating media-neutral ideas that travel around the world. Workshop attendees included J&J employees and agency partners, with plenty of opportunity for cross-functional interactive learning and collaboration.

Based on the idea that structure follows strategy, Alison Lewis, CMO of J&J’s consumer business, has set out her vision for aligning J&J’s agencies and the move to one galvanizing channel-agnostic idea for each of its consumer megabrands, thus creating a global-to-region marketing model.

Why is this important?

Because in no other era have consumers wielded more power than they do today. According to Randy Hlavac, Lecturer Professor, Northwestern University, Medill IMC, the intersection of social, mobile and cloud technologies has given rise to a hyper-connected, knowledge-driven society that’s re-defining how we create, share and act on the information available to us. From comparison shopping on our mobile devices while standing in a physical store, to asking our social networks for recommendations, the balance of power has shifted to us as consumers.

The main implication of this hyper-connected society that has declining levels of trust  in big consumer brands is that marketers must forge deep and meaningful relationships with their target audience to even enter their consideration set. What that looks like in today’s environment is creating customized and relevant content and resources that address the key moments that matter to their consumers along their natural journeys. So it’s not just about providing personal care products to teenagers, for instance, but also providing tips and tricks to bolster their confidence as they navigate the challenging, formative teenage years.

The six pieces of J&J’s new Integrated Marketing Communications process include

  1. Brand foundation — the brand architecture
  2. Brand growth plan — the strategy to build sales and share
  3. Brand creative idea — the single global idea aimed at bridging gaps identified in the growth plan
  4. Global connections plan — the key points where consumers can be influenced by the brand
  5. Local connections plan — how those points play out in local markets and media
  6. Tool kit for content distribution — ideas for distributing content around the creative idea

As a communicator, I am very excited about the opportunity that lies ahead with J&J’s new approach. And as a consumer, I believe that when the world’s largest companies are committing to revamping their communications to really cater to their target audience’s needs in order to succeed, it is a win-win proposition for everyone involved.

Rohini Mukherji is an account director at APEX. What do you think? Let us know here or on Twitter