The key to a successful integrated promotion is synergy, meaning all elements of marketing mix -- including point-of-sale materials, event sponsorships, PR, advertising, couponing and sampling -- unite to communicate the same message.
In best practice, each vehicle works with the rest, so that if a consumer sees one element, they can identify the brand image associated with it.
The Procter & Gamble Co., Cincinnati, is a strong believer in this type of wholistic marketing, especially when it comes to a new product. So when it launched its new Torengos tortilla chip brand this year, it included a range of sampling efforts, including mobile, event, in-store, school and community-group. Along with sampling, the launch was supported by other tools, including a sweepstakes, print and television advertising and relationship marketing.
"You need to touch consumers in many different ways, but always communicate a consistent message," Nate Lawton, assistant brand manager, Torengos, told Brand Marketing.
On a larger level, integrated promotions can mean using all of the vehicles at a marketer's disposal: trade promotion, advertising and consumer promotion. In more common practice, it's combining vehicles like sampling, couponing, temporary price reductions, displays and the Internet.
Regardless of which method is used, it means using as many vehicles as possible, said Sara Owens, president, Promo Pros, St. Louis, a promotion consulting firm.
"You need to fire on all cylinders in order to be heard," said Owens, former director of consumer promotions and marketing development, ConAgra Frozen Foods. "If you only rely on one arm, you run the risk of not being heard."
At P&G, each tool it uses is aimed at contributing to trial, repeat and awareness, according to Lawton. For the relationship-marketing component of the Torengos launch, P&G identified heavy tortilla users, and contacted them by mail. These users were divided into two groups: top prospects and chat leaders.
"Top prospects" were identified as heavy tortilla users that were likely to account for high consumption. These users were sent a trifold mailer that included a free jar opener for salsa.
"Chat leaders" were classified as people who, once they tried Torengos, were likely to tell their friends and family about the brand. These people were sent a full-size sample of the chips, along with product information and a free chip-and-dip tray.
In addition to the relationship-marketing component, multiple coupon drops were part of the effort. The first drop hit in December, followed by others in February, March and April. Couponing will continue to support the brand, according to Lawton.
As for mobile marketing, P&G offered the Torengos "ChampionCHIP" Challenge at community festivals and events. The goal of the tours was to prove the strength of its chips. To demonstrate how the chips can hold up in dip, they were tested against other edible dipping devices.
While integrated efforts like this are used heavily at big companies like P&G, they're just as meaningful for smaller marketers.
The Cocina Mobile (traveling kitchen), for instance, was just added to Juanita's Foods' integrated marketing mix, which includes in-store and out-of-store sampling, couponing, PR, billboard advertising and in-store endcap displays.
The Cocina Mobile tour travels to supermarkets during the week -- and fairs, rodeos festivals and community events on the weekend. The purpose of the tour is to sample Juanita's Menudito Menudo, a Mexican beef tripe stew. Although the product isn't new, sampling is an important part of the brand's integrated marketing effort. Since October 2001, Juanita's has distributed more than 150,00 samples.
The reason sampling is so important is that Hispanic shoppers prefer to cook from scratch. By demonstrating the product, Juanita's hopes to prove to these consumers that packaged goods can taste just as good as fresh.
"Through sampling, we've been able to get consumers to keep a backup supply of our product in their pantries -- and even to switch over to our product completely," said Bill Sneen, vice president, sales, Juanita's, Wilmington, Calif.
At each Cocina Mobile stop, there's music, games, balloons, samples and coupons. Juanita's even incorporates incentive marketing into the mix. Cocina Mobile representatives hand out coupons and alerts consumers that if they go into the store and buy the product, they'll get a free T-shirt upon their exit.
Sneen said each marketing tool it uses spreads the brand message in a unique, yet important way.
"It's important to integrate as many elements as possible," Sneen noted.
To make an integrated promotion succeed, each tool should communicate the same message, said Gregg Arrends, account director, U.S. Marketing & Promotions, L.A., the marketing agency that handled the Juanita's and Torengos programs.
"It's all about synergy," Arrends said. "One element standing alone doesn't have the same effect."
Such associations are more important in these times of budget cutbacks, Arrends pointed out. While marketers with huge ad budgets can use that money to drive brand awareness and purchase intent, those that don't need to find more breakthrough opportunities to reach the consumer.
Integrated promotions can do just that, Arrends said.
"When ad budgets become smaller, it becomes more important to make all these pieces work together as a marketing machine," said Arrends.
To stand out in the crowded marketplace, it is important to have full sensory impact, letting consumers touch, feel and smell the product -- along with television advertising and in-store and buzz marketing.
Once an integrated promotion is planned and executed, brand marketers should isolate which variable is working, said Owens of Promo Pros.
"Measurement is important because next year's [budget] plan is never going to any easier," Owens said. "You always need to make better decisions and get more from what you've got. You need to measure what works and what doesn't."
But this isn't easy. For instance, if a marketer drops a freestanding insert, it can measure its success based on a change in consumption. But if a company uses an FSI along with trade and advertising spending, Owens said it's difficult to determine the impact of each tool.
Part of what makes analysis possible is tagging each of the promotional tactics beforehand using TDLinx Codes from Trade Dimensions, Wilton, Conn. TDLinx is a retail/outlet location database and coding system, also known as the universal language of stores, outlets and accounts. This coding allows for tracking the effectiveness of promotions down at the store level and up the retail hierarchy. This information is analyzed based on the client's metrics to determine which tactics were successful and how the combined elements drove performance.
The coding system enables manufacturers to keep track of what promotions were used in which stores and how they performed. Scott Taylor, group vice president, sales and marketing, Trade Dimensions, said this type of management is critical because it helps manufacturers determine if their marketing and promotional dollars pay out.
"If you're spending all this money and don't know if you're getting a payback, then why do it at all? Taylor questioned.
Linda Baker, vice president of consumer and retailer insights for Crossmark Marketing Agency, Plano, Texas, a sister company to Crossmark Sales, a sales organization representing consumer packaged good manufacturers, said most manufacturers don't include post-analysis as part of the marketing process.
"Instead, they rely on volumetric analyses to determine a program's impact on baseline volume," she said. "Retailers and manufacturers need to aggregate all promotional elements and track them down to the store level. This, however, is a difficult task, and your programs must be coded accordingly in advance."
TDLinx enables her company to aggregate data to track effectiveness by tactic, market and retailer.
The firm incorporates a research-based model to drive promotional strategies and the associated creative elements. By conducting pre- and post-campaign analytics, Crossmark is able to increase the power of its programs. This leads to increased brand return on investment by effectively targeting the right audience with the right mix of promotional elements.
"You can determine what was impactful -- was it TV, coupons, the trade program, in-store coupons or something else," Baker said.
In its initial stages of campaign development, Crossmark uses Spectra and ACNielsen date up front to determine the most impactful promotional tactic for the targeted consumer group. Data compiled from Spectra produces a consumer profile, including demographics, media and leisure choices, shopping habits and purchase influencers. Data compiled from ACNielsen includes competitive set, purchase cycles, price points and merchandising patterns. Both Spectra and ACNielsen data sets are pre-coded and integrated with TDLinx data, enabling store-level analysis in the initial stages of development.
"A lot of times, manufacturers will do things that are very price-related to grow their brands," said Baker. "Just because a retailer has a buy-one-get-one program, it doesn't mean that's a good strategy for a particular brand. Maybe the strategy should be coupons, radio and in-store support for Group A targets, while Group B stores get a TPR only. It's all about incorporating the right tactic for the right store. Competing on price alone dilutes brand loyalty and typically shortens a product's life cycle."