Obama is doing more than uniting America

A perfect example of Symbiotic Marketing

Obama Campaign: A perfect example of Symbiotic Marketing

No matter your political affiliation, you have to appreciate the marketing campaign Barack Obama’s team is running.  It’s all about the people.  Voters have the opportunity to talk to Obama in any way they choose. His campaign unites traditional media venues like radio and TV ads with new media (social networks, Utube, mobile marketing) — and does so flawlessly.  The Obama camp has made a shift in marketing philosophy by going to where the voters are; rather than waiting for the voters to come to him. 

This fundamental shift in marketing philosophy is one that will be watched very closely over the next few months.  The questions is, are voters more likely to take action as a result of talking to Obama in this way?  If the voters do take an action, is it the action the Obama campaign is looking for?


Nike…The Human Race

Nike - The HUMAN Race

Nike - The HUMAN Race

Nike has done an awesome job bringing different marketing channels together for the benefit of their customer with The Human Race 10K.  On August 31 runners from around the world can run a 10K (anywhere they so choose) using their Nike shoes with Ipod adapter.  After they are done running they can load their stats onto Nike’s website and see how they compare to other runners around the WORLD.  Nike is also hosting runs in 25 cities around the world, so runners can participate in the group dynamics of a race.

What a cool experience for the customer.  Runners can participate, no matter where they are in the world, and they can see how the score against their peers.  What runner wouldn’t be interested in that?  And in case the runners need even more incentive, Nike will donate to one of 3 charities of your choice if you run.

Nike is utilizing email, in-store promotions, and the race day events to promote this event.  All 3 channels funnel the customer to the website for more details.  The messaging is consistent and the overall tone encourages customers to take ACTION and participate.  This is the epitome of a symbiotic marketing campaign.

Road Block – what is preventing marketers from heading down the path of integrated marketing?

Integrated marketing is a hot topic in the marketing world.  The ClickZ Network just featured an article related to integrated marketing, as did the Marketing Conversation blog.  Everyone’s talking about the need to move away from communication silos.  We all recognize that a unified marketing campaign will help us foster better relationships with our customers, but no one has really come out and said what is preventing companies from making the change. 


Well, I may be going out on a limb here, but I’ll say it….Integrated marketing is a lot of work.  Uniting different channels into one marketing campaign is not an easy task — especially as new channels like social media come into the mix.  My question for all you marketers is who is putting in the effort to integrate?


I’d like to use this blog to highlight companies that practicing symbiotic marketing — an integrated marketing campaign that focuses on establishing a mutually beneficial relationship with the customer.  If you feel a company has a stellar integrated marketing campaign, post a comment and tell me the name of the company and why you consider it’s successful at symbiotic marketing.


Giving customers a consistent view

Have you ever stopped to think about the number of touch points customers receive from your company?

Search engine ads, magazine advertisements, catalogs, and emails are seen by your customer more than your realize.  Customers could be receiving dozens of communications from your company this week alone. When was the last time you did a spot check to see if the messaging between the channels is presenting a consistent image to your customer?  If we stick to the three core channels – direct mail, digital media (email & web), and advertising – you will be amazed to see the variety of messaging your customers see about your company. 

It’s quite easy for this discrepancy to happen.  Each channel prepares their own campaigns and incorporates their own special treatment on the corporate messaging.  In the eyes of the marketers, these treatments (a.k.a. changes) to the standardize messaging are meant to add a bit of pizzazz.  Unfortunately, if you have 3 different marketing divisions within your company, and each division has 4 team members, your customers could be seeing 12 different versions of the standardized corporate message…so much for the consistency you were trying to achieve with a standardized message.  As marketing channels continue to evolve and with new channels coming onto the scene every year, it’s important that all marketing channels start unifying their ideas.

Symbiotic marketing is all about different marketing divisions, including customer service, uniting to present one consistent image to a customer.  An organization can start practicing symbiotic marketing by following these guidelines: 

·        Establish Tone.  Will your corporate speak be formal and detailed or short and witty?  There is no right or wrong answer, as long as all communication to customers follows the same tone.

o       Quick Tip – Appoint 1 person to review all customer messaging.  It’s much easier to establish a consistent tone when one person has the final say.

·        Launch a pricing strategy.  All channels should be offering products or services at the same base-level pricing.  Establish rules for sales and special offers and a timeline to ensure customers do not receive competing offers from your company.

·        Define Gimmees.  Gimmees are the typically the non-documented offers companies are willing to give customers to keep them happy (i.e. 100% satisfaction guaranteed).  There is no reason to keep these offers a secret.  It’s just important that all marketing divisions know what they can, and can’t, give up in the name of keeping customers happy. 

·        Appoint an IMO.  An Integrated Marketing Officer is the person who keeps track of what messaging the customer is seeing.  This is not the gatekeeper of all outgoing marketing pieces; instead she should be viewed as your inside-customer because she is privy to the same messaging as the customer — from all channels.  The IMO can guide the different channels along to ensure all customer touch points follow the same messaging strategy.

Meet in the middle

With so many different marketers practicing so many different facets of marketing, I want to use this blog to highlight where these different divisions unite.   

I have been fortunate enough to dabble in what I consider to be the core marketing activities – branding, advertising, direct mail,ecommerce, and new media.  Now I don’t claim to be an expert in any of these areas, but I do realize the power that can come from uniting all these components to create a true integrated marketing campaign.  I like using the word symbiotic, rather than integrated, because it incorporates the customer experience. 

Symbiotic marketing unites all elements of marketing in order to foster a mutually beneficial relationship with the customer.



any interdependent or mutually beneficial relationship between two persons, groups, etc.