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Integration Takes Perspiration

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A couple of months ago I was unprepared and needed a quick dinner solution, so my daughter and I decided to visit our favorite pizza restaurant. It was getting late, but I calculated that even with the 20 minute drive we would still arrive 25 minutes before closing. We could order to go if necessary. When I arrived the chairs were on the table and three-quarters of the floor was freshly mopped. I tried to open the door, but the path was blocked with restaurant furniture. I opened the door slightly to inquire about ordering and the two employees inside quickly said they were getting ready to close. They returned to their tasks and did not engage further in conversation. As I turned to head back to the parking lot, I checked my watch and noted that my arrival calculations had been very accurate because it was now more than 20 minutes before closing. I found another restaurant nearby and then I went home to write an e-mail to the owner about my experience.

As I clicked through the company’s website, it was impossible to ignore the numerous statements proclaiming their commitment to the customer experience and excellent customer service. However, when I tried to submit my e-mail, I discovered the website was not working. I called the restaurant the next day to get the e-mail address but the employee who answered the phone was having difficulty finding the information and gave me the wrong address. It was the following day before I could track down the manager. Finally, he gave me the correct e-mail address and asked me to forward the date and time of my visit so he could check the security cameras.  As I sat down to re-write my e-mail, it occurred to me that many businesses today are missing the big picture when it comes to integration. Yes, it’s true they had a website, flyers and messages that were similar in tone, and even some great promotion on the popular social medial sites, but they had failed to put in the hard work and perspiration it takes to be a truly integrated company and it showed.

In 2012, a BusinessWeek article reported that one of the most powerful solutions for the fragmentation marketers face in today’s marketing and sales channels (more messages than consumers have attention) is integration. The definition of integration in this article goes beyond taglines, color palettes, and carefully formed messages. The all powerful integration tool described here requires a company to have a consistent identity across mediums and messages as well as a unified strategy and voice for the brand throughout the organization, which includes such areas as advertising, customer service, and relationship management programs. In order to realize the most effective outcomes, everything the company does to attract, retain , convert, and engage consumers should be integrated. In other words, the brand should be woven into the company’s human resource practices, training programs, and employee evaluation and compensation practices. Delivering consistent messages across the organization helps to insulate companies from consumer complaints. And besides customers crave consistency, right?

So if integration is such a powerful tool, why don’t companies like my local pizza shop implement integration strategies more often? This article posits that the answer is largely a matter of the time and energy integration efforts consume. Most companies simply do not have the patience it takes to see their efforts through to completion and even when they do it can take consumers even longer to notice them.

So it would seem that when it comes to integration, time is the enemy and perseverance (and some perspiration) is the magic key that unlocks the door to this powerful tool. And in today’s marketing environment, this is a message no business can afford to miss.

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