MORE OF THE SAME OR MORE OF SOMETHING DIFFERENT? (foreword by professor Don E. Schultz for Suuri Integraatiokirja, toinen painos)
People who write books are strange folks. Books require knowledge, dedication, focus and, most of all patience. Patience…. waiting for the writing muses to appear in your head or in your dreams. Patience to find just the right word to complete a sentence. Patience to do the research and background to fully support the ideas, concepts and approaches being developed. Patience to sustain you during the editing process, where some of what you thought were your best ideas end up as blue-penciled residue, never to see the light of published day.
Yes, writing books takes patience. And, writing another edition of a book you’ve already successfully marketed takes more patience still. Generally, you pour your heart into the first book. So, any of the following editions is sort of like adopting one of your own children. You know who and what they are, but, you think you can improve on the product the next time around.
So, first books take patience. Later editions take courage. What to leave in? What to take out? What to change? What to tweak? How to convince yourself that what you have written before is still relevant and still what you want to say. Most of all, it takes courage to admit that some of the things you may have said in the earlier editions really weren’t your best thoughts or what you meant to say. That forces you to either retract or explain them better in this version.
Some following editions are simply a re-hash or a re-do of the earlier ones. And, some are substantial improvements over the earlier ones. This one likely falls into this latter category. Markku, having found his editorial voice in the earlier versions of this text, improved in this version. The theme is still the same…..the need for change and changes in marketing and marketing communications….but, the directions provided are stronger, more focused and more challenging than the earlier versions.
Some things didn’t change. You’ll still find the “call to arms” to re-think and re-do the marketing and communications programs for all types of organizations. Product, environmental and technological conditions demand that. So, you’ll find suggestions and ideas on how to do that. Plus, ways to bring the organization together. Approaches that put marketing and communication in the forefront of the organization’s marketing activities. Methodologies which can be picked up and implemented immediately in many organizations. And, those which will result in major advantages for the firm going forward. Most importantly, you’ll find some longer term concepts that take time to develop and implement but, once done, prove the value of structured thinking, planning and implementation.
What hasn’t changed is the uniquely Finnish view of the business world. No nonsense. No vainglorious tactics that are simply ways to call attention to the organization and its products. It is still all about the customer. The customer, clearly placed at the center of the organization’s operations is still the hub around which all the company’s activities and interests revolve. The theme of the book is clear…..it’s all for and all about the customer…..and, it is that customer focus that really drives integration.
What is refreshing in this new version is that Markku has moved integration and IMC several notches up in the organizational structure. He is maintains that IMC starts in the middle, by people charged with creating, coordinating and aligning the entire organization. But, he clearly shows that the support of top management is critical. Senior management provides the financial support, of course. That is vital since they guide the company. But, senior management’s internal support is also needed to provide the structures and managerial alignments which are so critical to success. Without that top management support, the best laid plans and approaches to build an integrated effort will likely fail.
Integration is not just a word or a concept that is used to encourage employees to work harder or work together. It is the mantra by which the entire organization must live. Organizations, whether old, new or just beginning, are still run by senior managers. They set the rules and the rewards. So, they have to “buy into and support” any integrated efforts middle managers develop for the concept to work. Not everyone has to be on the “front lines” of integration, but, everyone has to be supportive and provide the resources necessary to make total integration work.
There is one main theme that runs throughout this text. It is the biggest challenge any person or group who tries to develop an Integrated Marketing Communication program faces: simply put, it’s the “It’s How Things Have Always Been Done Around Here” belief that pervades all too many organizations. IMC is new. It’s different. It’s challenging. And, it requires people to do things in different ways. Most of all, it requires functional specialists to think outside their specialties. It requires managers to think horizontally, not just vertically. Most of all, it requires free flowing information that is shared across and throughout the organization. It starts with customers and works back toward the organization. That’s not the normal flow in an organization that is accustomed to talking at customers, not listening to them.
So, integration and IMC are difficult. They’re challenging but they are also ever so rewarding when done right. Fortunately, you have an excellent guide in Markku Vierula. He knows IMC inside and out. He knows what integration is and what it is not. He has practiced IMC for a number of years so he has all the experience needed to be a great guide to how to plan, develop, implement and measure an IMC program. And, he has put it all into this one book. You’ll find it a handy reference guide you can use to develop an IMC program for you own company or organization.
The most valuable part, however, is how Markku provides you with the ammunition and firepower to blow away the resistance which you are sure to find when you encounter people who say “That’s not how we do it around here.” You’ll be able to say “Here’s the way you should do it in the future and, most importantly……here’s why!”
So, read on. Use this new version to improve your current IMC programs. Or, if you are just starting, here’s what you’ll need to initiate an IMC approach in your firm or organization. As I have said time and time again, we must reinvent marketing. This is the way to do it. Markku Vierula shows you the best way to do that.
I wish you the best in your upcoming IMC adventures.
Don E. Schultz
Chicago, IL, USA