Integrated Marketing—Think Hockey, Not Football

Jun 03, 2011

By Julie Kyle Newsletters Editor, ZweigWhite I have many friends who are in business for themselves. As a creative type, I enjoy helping them come up with marketing ideas; it’s fun for me— designing new business cards, identifying potential new customer pools, generating ideas for strategies to reach new customer bases, brainstorming for logo ideas, etc. One of these friends owns a small, service-oriented business. Recently we were discussing how different this marketing is compared to retail, where you sell tangible goods. Anyone who operates a service-oriented business will agree, marketing services— where you are selling skill, knowledge, expertise, and experience— requires a different approach and philosophy altogether. It’s a totally different game. Couple that with all the changes advertisers have experienced, given all the new technology and marketing delivery methods in just the last 15 or so years, and one would be led to wonder, how do even the largest advertisers and marketing groups keep up? Steven Goldbach, a partner at global consulting giant Monitor, has an interesting take on ‘integrated’ marketing. A short, animated video titled “Integrated Marketing—Think Hockey, Not Football” helped us understand why marketing organizations look the way they do. You may be wondering, “What is integrated marketing, and why are we talking about sports?” Well, Goldbach leads the firm’s North American Consumer Packaged Goods practice. His work with consumer-oriented companies focuses on helping clients become more prepared to engage with consumers in a highly connected world. There are lessons service-oriented marketing teams can learn from what he is accomplishing in the packaged goods market. To understand this, we need to go back 30 years ago. Consumers were behaving quite differently back then, and making choices differently. Products and brands were chosen from the ads on TV. Then, the consumer simply went to the store to purchase the product. It was a simpler world for marketers, and Goldbach compares this with a game of pickup football, where you only need a quarterback and a receiver to score. “Then the cool kids came in,” like the Internet, Twitter,, blogging, etc. “Over time, the world got more complicated,” Goldbach says. So how did marketing teams react? “For all of the cool new media we added new marketing team members,” he says. “New media would pop up, and we assigned a new team member to cover it.” Soon, the football team got really, really big, and all the marketers that were hired needed a stadium in which to meet. “It got harder to react when the opponent sped up game, and we kept having to huddle up. Pretty soon our calendars were filling up with meetings with each other, rather than learning about our consumers,” he says. “Playing football isn’t working for marketers.” If playing football isn’t working, change the game, and make it more like hockey. Hockey is more fluid. You can have a game plan, but it’s adapted on the fly if things change around you, Goldbach says. Players are more substitutable: A defenseman can join the rush if need be; if the goalie gets sick, someone else can stick on the pads and take their place. Marketing teams have to be adaptable with new media when it enters the picture, and with the economy forcing many to cut marketing budgets, agencies can’t afford to hire another specialist each time. Goldbach calls for a shift from specialized, inflexible marketers and agencies to teams with quick-thinking and fast-acting players, who can adapt to an ever-changing world. We have to learn to change, and to be prepared for an uncertain future, marketers need to switch from football to hockey. “Then we can stop calling them an ‘integrated’ marketing team, and just let them be the marketing team,” he says. What type of team does your firm have? Access the video here.

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