This post is part of the #JUMPchallenge, a blogging competition designed to raise awareness of how to join up online and offline marketing, launched to support Econsultancy’s JUMP event.

This entry comes from Darika Ahrens, and has been published on the Grapevine Consulting blog

While everyone’s running around trying to work out how to join up their online with their offline marketing I just want to see marketing which works.

Marketers have lost their way. If you really want to achieve excellence in joined-up marketing it’s probably not what you think.

Don’t join online with offline marketing

The secret to joined-up marketing isn’t to connect online and offline marketing, but to join marketing with the business’ objectives as a whole.

Somewhere along the line, and despite the constant navel-gazing about online marketing, we’ve forgotten that the whole point of marketing is to make the business money [or, in the case of not-for-profits, ensure uptake of info or services].

Excellence in marketing isn’t about a joined-up strategy, it’s about marketing which works. Marketing ROI is not a metric, it’s a business result.

Joining online with offline marketing: back to basics

The key to joining the channels is to first go back to Marketing 101 basics: who is your customer?

And I don’t mean the lazy “our product could sell to everyone! Teens! Grandparents! Men! Women! All over the globe!“. That’s all well and good but the secret to success of brands like Apple is you know EXACTLY who the iPad is aimed for, right? When Starbucks first opened you know EXACTLY the sort of clientele they wanted to attract (and it wasn’t the mothers with buggies and/or crazy people wanting to use the toilet types you see today).

The biggest brands narrow focus and go after a certain customer. This doesn’t prevent other people from buying their products or services, it just helps them market to a core consumer. Offline marketing isn’t dead, ‘spray and pray’ is.

When you know who your customer is, it’s easy to create a marketing strategy. Online and offline become irrelevant, you’ve just got to market to them in places they hang out.

Joining online with offline marketing: changing channels

Now I’m just guessing but for the majority of businesses out there, they will have customers who spend time online. Fact. It’s up to YOU to profile your audience and then market to them where they will be most likely to see it.

Does offline marketing work? Sure, it’s a no brainer that if your customer listens to the radio, then radio is a valid marketing channel for your business. Likewise TV, giant billboards, painting the sides of buses, and hiring out-of-work actors to give away chocolate bars outside tube stations, works.

Unfortunately, the reality is that marketers are forgetting how much media consumption has shifted to online channels. Desperate to integrate a little online into their marketing strategy, businesses allocate the bulk of their marketing budget to [often more expensive] offline marketing channels and then dump a small proportion of their budget on online marketing – to “test if it works”.

This seems to ignore the facts, for example social networking alone now accounts for nearly a quarter of all time spent on the Internet, and these figures can only grow. If your customer is aged 15 – 24 then for the love of god, throw the traditional marketing plan out the window, they’re not reading newspapers!

Joined-up marketing should take the budget as a whole and allocate spend to the channels most likely to target your customer, irrelevant of whether they’re online or offline.

As for testing if it works, I find it a hell of a lot easier to track if someone clicked through from a Facebook page to buy something on my website than follow someone home after handing them a free chocolate bar. [Disclaimer: I have never knowingly followed someone home after giving them a free chocolate bar.]

Measuring the excellence of your joined-up marketing

So you’ve profiled your customer, you’ve picked your marketing channels, you’ve allocated your budget cleverly across online and offline, what do you tell the boss?

Well, what is the boss telling YOU – is the business making money? It astounds me the lack of business critical data marketers use to inform their marketing decisions.

Is the product selling? If so, to whom (and was it who you thought your customer was)? Where are people buying from? Is anyone tracking any of this stuff in the business?

Many bosses will be happy with what I call ‘Ego Marketing’ i.e. “Check out this super awesome full page wrap around which will be in the hands of every commuter for the whole of today.” But most will settle for making money.

If your marketing strategy is doing that, then you’ve achieved excellence in joined-up marketing. Relax, put your feet up, enjoy that free chocolate bar the attractive young actress outside the tube gave you this morning.

This is one of the entries in the JUMP blogging challenge, and we’re looking for more bloggers to contribute by posting an article. The closing date for entries is September 17. 

The winner will receive a ‘blogging hamper’, which includes an iPad, a press pass to JUMP, free Econsultancy membership, some strawberry jam and more. More details here