Consider these statistics: 104 television channels in the average household. Over 12 million Blackberries used in 2008. Nearly 52 million iPods sold in 2007. More than 53% of Americans watch videos online. Almost 20% of Americans listened to podcasts. [1]

Americans are multi-tasking through various media channels. They are listening to iPods while surfing the internet. Many are working on laptops while watching television.

Now, ask yourself: “Have I utilized these mediums in my marketing and branding efforts?” If not, your brand could be lagging. In fact, marketing strategist Kaihan Krippendorff believes companies must employ an integrated approach to marketing or else they will fall behind the competition. According to Krippendorff, approximately 60% of the sophisticated online companies in business employ integrated marketing strategies today.

Melding Tradition and Innovation

With all of the available technology – and the consumer’s penchant for using it as evidenced above – a stand-alone brochure or use of a single, traditional medium can no longer build or sustain a brand. Building a brand is a process that doesn’t happen overnight. It requires a strong, consistent message that resonates with your constituents and is sustained over time. However, employing an integrated strategy that delivers a consistent message and leverages today’s marketing channels can help give your brand a good head start.

Building an integrated marketing plan that incorporates the right vehicles across multiple channels to communicate your message can support your efforts to create a strong brand. There are many aspects to consider: Who is your audience? What channels do they use for communication? What expectations do they have about how you communicate with them? How can you engage with them most effectively? What message will you deliver? What must you do internally or operationally to support that message? An integrated approach should take into consideration the following elements:

Traditional mediums, such as broadcast media, print media and direct mail. These tried-and-true methods still have value for reaching certain target audiences and delivering brand messages for particular products and services in certain industries.
Online and digital mediums, including websites, email and both handheld and mobile devices. The statistics indicate that growing numbers of consumers are turning to online and digital mediums to communicate, obtain information, share data, and receive messaging that can influence their buying decisions. These mediums offer direct and sometimes more cost-effective ways to reach and engage specific audiences with your brand message.
Viral and word of mouth marketing tactics. Word of mouth marketing combines online and offline mediums with the most basic human behavior – talking. Your customer can actually be your greatest advocate. Techniques that help virally spread your message through the voice of your customer should be considered as a part of your marketing mix and brand strategy.
Internal operational processes. Equally influential in building and sustaining your brand, operational practices are often overlooked when creating an integrated marketing strategy. The human interaction customers have with your company – be it sales or service – can make or break their future purchasing plans. But it’s not just client-facing employees that affect the brand. If your back office operations fall short in processing orders or are indifferent about defective products or services, the effect can be devastating to a company’s brand.
Podcasts, collective intelligence, peer-to-peer networks like MySpace, blogs and RSS feeds are a few of the latest communication mediums used in marketing. There continue to be new and innovative ways to communicate your message to your target audience. Regardless of the latest innovative technique, no one medium or channel will suffice today. It is clear consumers receive messages, process information, and communicate with one another and with companies in multiple ways across multiple channels. To be an effective marketer in today’s marketplace, you must take an integrated approach that combines time-tested marketing mediums with the power of evolving technologies and the desire for human interaction if you are to build a powerful brand.