Is Your Earned Marketing Triangulated?


A few years ago, I wrote a story for Forbes about Gillette’s Summer Job campaign as I found the level of the campaign’s channel integration to be of interest. 

In that case Gillette, the Procter & Gamble shaving brand that I recently ripped for losing touch with its audience, forced its advertising and PR agencies into a room and told them to not come out until they had developed a smart program. Perplexingly, Gillette didn’t then integrate the campaign into all of its channels in surround sound — which really should be a must today as consumers are parsing time online, more rabidly using mobile, still watching some television, listening to less and less radio, and have largely left print publications alone at the alter.

In my mind, from a channel integration perspective Summer Job was “half pregnant,” a term I once heard Gary Vaynerchuck say to a P&G social media manager about their social media expertise in front of a room of 1,000 people.

When I speak with Chief Marketing Officers (CMO) and marketers about their communications campaigns, the first question I ask is whether a program is “triangulated,” or rather, whether their marketing programs intregrate three key principle disciplines within the earned side of digital marketing today: 

  • Social media: Building out an online platform and seeding concepts in digital channels where these ideas can be acted upon and shared widely;
  • Search: Leveraging the immense power of search engines — the principle tools with which consumers today make choices;
  • PR: Promoting the excitement of the conversation, validating trends and delivering messages to a wider audience through traditional media (still important) and the blogosphere in order to drive consumers to take action.

Each discipline has staked out a vital corner in the earned promotion and marketing of companies, causes, ideas or individuals. And by leveraging their merits, the aggregate far exceeds the sum of each of the parts and the result is exponential media coverage, awareness, and overall word-of-mouth.

Just consider what is arguably the most successful campaign of the past few years: the original Old Spice Guy campaign with Isiah Mustafa.

Why was the Old Spice Mustafa campaign so effective? Just look at the integration into marketing channels:

  • It  began as a traditional broadcast advertising program with strong, very funny creative.
  • The ads were cued up on Old Spice’s YouTube channel, and the funny creative was parlayed into strong word-of-mouth. Consumers were spreading the videos in social media channels. It was on.
  • Mustafa was then accepting questions from regular Joes and celebrities with HUGE Twitter followings that the Old Spice Guy answered in videos. Cue more discussion and brand engagement.
  • And then came the earned media push. Before the campaign, who the hell was Isaiah Mustafa besides another run-of-the-mill actor with a well-defined set of six-pack abs? Afterward, pretty much every news outlet as well as the marketing blogosphere was telling us.

Looking back, it’s easy to understand why it done blewed up.

A few years ago, when a team I worked on developed digital treasure hunt programs in Minneapolis and Milwaukee for Travel Leaders in collaboration with Andrew Zimmern of the Travel Channel, our process included:

  • Creating an online hub to center the campaign;
  • Building social media extensions of the campaign and finding qualified followers and fans to build discussion;
  • Media buys through Facebook and Google cost-per-click, as well as the local Fox stations in each market.
  • Seeding blogs and pitching media about the treasure hunts, which ultimately drove people back to the online hub and further engaged consumers with the brand;
  • Implementing an SEO component;
  • And finally, connecting Zimmern and the brand with consumers at the consummation of each city’s treasure hunt.

The consistency of message in multiple marketing channels and high engagement levels in social media channels helped to surround the target consumer, elevating the success of the program well beyond what a simple press release promoting an event would have generated.

So what does all of this tell us? Why do we still not see more campaigns that are effectively integrated throughout more of the marketing channels at the disposal of some very savvy companies and brands?

Sadly, corporate politics have a lot to do with it.  Under the CMO at many companies sit the heads of units such as advertising, public relations, internal communications, and customer relations groups — often jockeying for budget and looking to stake their claim.  As a result, many campaigns are limited, work in singular channels, and are not integrated within multiple marketing disciplines.

And when this is the case, the end-goal of increasing sales or enhancing reputation often gets lost in the shuffle.

What we must continue to remember is there is plenty to go around — for communications business unit leaders and agencies alike. And if companies and brands bring disciplines together and triangulate programs in multiple marketing channels, surround target audiences with a consistent message from every channel, and leverage the power of SEO — everyone wins.

So Mr. or Mrs. CMO, the next time one of your unit heads pitches a program to you, ask them a very simple question: “How do we triangulate this?”

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