How To Run An Effective Integrated Marketing Session With Your Team
Silo working, mixed messaging and off-brand assets. Sound like a familiar situation in your office?
We’ve seen it a million times over, and know EXACTLY how frustrating it is to know nothing of a huge project another team is doing, and expect you to market the assets. Know what you need? An Integrated Marketing Session.
What’s an integrated marketing session?
An integrated marketing session is where you get at least one representative from every department in your company (perhaps excluding HR, Legal and Finance, though that depends entirely on the kind of company you are) in one place for a day.
You make everyone spill any activity they’re undertaking in the next 12 months that’s going to require some kind of marketing, and plot it on one big calendar. Then you plan exactly what content will be required for each project. And then everybody works from that calendar to complete work required for specific projects throughout the year, checking back in to do an update session every six months or so.
Why would an integrated marketing session be useful to me?
The list of ways in which integrated marketing sessions are useful is literally endless, but a few headline points are:
There’s no excuse for silo working if you’ve put this measure in place, and therefore less off-brand content produced that you have no choice but to market. Integrated marketing really supports brand cohesiveness.
They help ease tension between teams. If everyone’s working from the same plan and has to have less difficult conversations about why Julie’s designed graphics in orange when your colour palette is blue and grey, everyone’s happier. Less tense conversations mean more space for people to get to know and like each other. Hopefully.
You can better plan ahead to hit deadlines. The big 12-month plan you end up with is your guiding beacon to mastering your to-do list, allowing you to complete your multitude of various campaign materials in advance of the launch date. That’s right – in advance ofthe launch date.
You can step up the quality of your content, because you’ll have time and space to assess when you need to start planning gorgeous video campaigns, for example. And you can agree on the creative and the medium with your team during the integrated marketing session. Get in.
How to prepare for your integrated marketing session
Send out advance diary appointments
This is a big, important meeting that’s going to require a lot of your colleague’s time and energy. But it’s totally worth it.
Send out diary appointments in good time (it’s just good manners) and provide an explanation of what happens during the session, why it’s important and why they’ve been chosen to represent their team.
It’s also a good shout to mention that if they can’t make the meeting, they should send a colleague in their place.
Invite someone from EVERY team
Try not to forget anyone. There’s nothing worse than making a big, bold move to make a workforce more integrated, then leave people out.
Remind them to prep
Let your attendees know they need to bring all of their team’s key dates for the next year, whether or not an activity is 100% confirmed.
Book a day away from the office
Creative juices need to be flowing for this as much as logistical prowess. You’ll be much more effective at the creative point if you’re in a new space primed for brainstorming.
Keep the snacks and drinks flowing
Low blood-sugar rarely enables a fabulous idea. A word of warning though; carb heavy lunches should also be avoided to keep everyone sharp!
Take regular fresh air breaks
See our note above about keeping sharp…
What you’ll need for planning on the day:
One biiiiiig flip chart
Sharpies and assorted pens
A stack of post-its
A comprehensive list of public holidays and national days you want or may want to take advantage of.
How to run your integrated marketing session
Ok, this is the big one – a playbook to absolutely beasting this mammoth but ever-useful task, if you will. Here’s what you need to do.
Assign one month to each sheet of flip chart paper. So one sheet for January, one for February, and so on.
Write the weeks of that month along the top of a grid, so each week has a column to itself. E.g. January 2019 will be split into 31st Dec – 6th Jan, then 7th – 13th, etc.
Write your marketing mediums down the side of the page. Include online and offline marketing channels, such as social media, email, blog, website, billboards, media space, bus stop posters, press release… whatever you regularly use. Your flip chart set up should look like this for each month:
Spend the first half of the day on plotting key dates and assigning the mediums each upcoming activity will need marketing on. Don’t get too bogged down on creative ideas yet (but encourage attendees to jot ideas down as they come to share later). Focus on one month at a time, and for each piece of content that needs to be created, jot it on a post-it and stick in the relevant week against the marketing medium required. Most activities will require multiple post-its as they’ll go out across various mediums, such as blog, social media and email marketing. Work through every month until you reach the end and every activity is noted.
This is likely to take up the first half of your integrated marketing session – it will get laborious, so take regular breaks. If your company is very large and an integrated planning session is likely to take more than a day, try focusing on the next three or six months at first.
After a hearty lunch and a dose of caffeine (we’ll take a double espresso, thanks), it’s time to revisit each month and get creative. Add to the activity post-it notes, detailing creative ideas, titles, email subjects… whatever is required on the creative side of things to enhance each piece of content. Not every bit is going to need to need a full-on creative brief, but take this time to brainstorm exciting approaches to anything in the calendar that carries real potential. Make sure everyone knows that you want to hear their opinion and that no idea is a stupid idea when brainstorming.
Take a backup photo of each month, just in case the paper version comes to harm. We can’t emphasise enough how important this is, because post-its – whilst great – do not have the most reliable glue.
Carefully stack all 12 sheets on top of one another, roll them up together like a poster and pop a rubber band around them. Trust us, this is the EASIEST way to transport these huge bits of paper and all the good stuff they now possess, thanks to you.
Take everyone to the nearest pub for the evening.
Spend the next day writing up your plan so there is a digital copy – preferably it’ll be beautifully designed and live in a live document, such as Google Sheets.
Send an email around thanking everyone for attending, and ask them to sense check your digital plan.
Make any amends you need to post-feedback.
Encourage everyone to use this planner to plan their work from here-on-out.
Repeat in six months.
Was reading that process a little dry? Possibly. Are integrated marketing sessions a little bit stressful for the host? Yes. Is it all worth it when everyone is working in harmony on the same uber creative projects? OH GOODNESS GRACIOUS YES.
Holding regular integrated marketing sessions will change your working life for the better, and that of others around you. The really exciting part is when creative campaigns can be conceived by more than one person, making way for truly exciting collaborations with your peers.