Vertical integration is a business term synonymous with industry leadership. Those who vertically integrate have a hands-on approach towards the product in every step of the production process. From brainstorming, to engineering, to an eventual sale, the company focuses their efforts until they actualize a competitive advantage.
As the marketing field fragments from a pure state of big business spending, a vertically integrated promotional process has revealed itself. And this process, when executed correctly, allows business owners complete control of their message on all fronts of media, stabilizing their brand in ways that- until recently, only a large corporation could.
The first step on the path to vertically integrated marketing is building one’s presence on the web. The main difference between marketing now and ten years ago is that now anyone with good content and an audience can grow to a position of product leadership. Articles, blogs, email database subscriptions, mobile-friendly capabilities (67% of mobile users say that when they visit a mobile-friendly site, they’re more likely to buy a site’s product or service), games, and even the interactivity of the sales interface, all add to the experience of audience participation (and, in return, brand loyalty).
Shoring up one’s social media avenues is one of the most difficult (and innovative) tasks a business owner can take on. A social media page should be more than basic contact between a business and its customers. Proper social media marketing uses the page to connect with those unaware of the brand, while–more importantly–driving all viewers to the marketer’s links of choice. Promotional ideas such as contests, embedded coupons (that capture email addresses) and customer photos (or general two-way chatter), all are essential to staying relevant in the customers’ eyes; but when one digs deeper from a marketing standpoint, one’s ultimate goal should be linking traffic back to the meat of content located on one’s preferred site.
Traditional Advertising (Print)
At this point in the marketing cycle, one has developed a website with product leadership attributes, created social media pages to connect with their audience and direct them to where one wants them to go, and gathered substantial data towards an email database and contests/promotions to which the audience responds. The question now arises: “Once the initial audience is tapped out, how does one move forward and grow?” The answer, quite simply, is to step outside of one’s own means and buy space in an advertising medium with an audience considerably larger than one’s own. This strategy slightly strays from the vertical integration concept (as advertising with another company would be a level of production outside of one’s own), but with a mutual vested interest, it could be argued that one is more of a partner than customer to their advertiser of choice. Once one has chosen a medium that fits their needs (print is generally known as the small business medium, falling on the less-expensive end of the price spectrum), they can run a value promotion that steers those engaged back to their social media sites, completing the cycle.
Email marketing is the final step in the vertical marketing cycle because of its restrictions towards growth. But if one has worked other avenues to grow an audience, email marketing can prove as effective in engaging with the customer as any other online strategy. Newsletters, monthly coupons, and linked articles all do their part in packaging one’s value into an easily shared bundle.