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Why is Marketing Integration so Hard?

Media’s cacophony of channel options has forced a fundamental shift in how marketers go-to-market – everyone must work together. Paid search SMEs must work with website managers to coordinate keywords across paid and owned channels. Social media managers and paid social SMEs must work together to coordinate campaign targeting and messaging. CTV media buyers must coordinate with ecommerce and call center management to ensure originating leads are converted quickly. Success sits at the intersection of SMEs within marketing and across the enterprise. 

Unless you are a big spender like my former employer, Progressive Insurance, your marketing efforts will not deliver coordinated message delivery needed to compete.  Without integration across channels, you run the risk of sprinkling one, two, or three impressions across targets and channels and your programs will not convert.  

So why is it so hard to bring diverse teams together so all marketing silos work together? 

Moving from siloed marketing operations to integrated marketing operations requires effective change management. Marketing departments that implement change without adopting a change management process will run headlong into five major barriers to adoption -- aversion to change, fear of failure, ill-defined roles and responsibilities, misaligned incentives, and trust. 

1. Aversion to Change. 

Integration means process change, and people don’t like to change. Seasoned workers have risen through the ranks because they are good at the things they do, and they have figured out a way to succeed by mastering a process that has proven effective. New processes are unproven and ask people to change their habits to create new habits that may or may not work out for them.  

Instead of focusing on just one aspect of marketing, like paid search or website optimization, integration asks people to learn just enough about many other aspects of marketing that are outside their domain of expertise. For younger workers eager to learn and advance, this is often met with enthusiasm. For seasoned workers who have built their careers becoming experts in their fields, this means learning new skills that will be less developed than the skill they have mastered. 

2. Fear of Failure.

Adopting a new, unproven-to-them process and acquiring new skills can feel scary because people worry, afraid they will fail. Failure comes in many forms. People will worry they will not be good at the new skills or process. If your corporate culture has rewarded individualism, then your workers are probably lone wolves who want to keep going it alone. Maybe they see their coworkers as lone wolves, too. People will ask, ‘how can I trust so-and-so to help me succeed?’ and revert to old ways because they feel safer. 

3. Roles and Responsibilities Confusion. 

Integration means collaborating with other people for joint success. People will wonder, ‘who is responsible?’ They will ask, ‘who is in charge’? Success integration requires well-defined roles and responsibilities where people are responsible for their area of expertise but have input in their peers’ recommendations. Usually this means marketing departments are adopting a new operational process, one that starts with collaborative strategy building, then proceeds in a curved dual wave, where individuals go off to do their work then the team comes together to share and adapt plans based on each other’s input. New roles will emerge, like project managers and integrated strategists, to facilitate this convergent-divergent planning process. 

4. Misaligned Incentives.

Ultimately, integration requires a change to incentive models. Yes, people still need to demonstrate excellence in their field, demonstrating competence and maintaining subject mastery. However, how people work will be just as important as what work they complete. Incentives will shift from single contributor to group collaborator metrics. Skills like collaboration, agility, and adaptability will become more important. Incentive plans should also identify joint goals the entire team can only hit when working together. By adjusting incentives, people will be more likely to adopt new roles and responsibilities. 

5. Lack of Trust

Finally, the last crucial ingredient for integrated marketing is trust. Teams must learn they can rely on their teammates so that together they succeed. Radical transparency, constant communications, ting with the motto of ‘no surprises’, and genuinely caring for each other will go a long way to building a culture of trust. And teams that trust can move mountains. At Coologee we have our own saying – Onward! – which acknowledges when times are getting hard while rallying the troops so together, we can overcome the next barrier. 


Integrated marketing requires deliberate change management. Most marketing departments do not have a process manager on team who can help the organization shift to a new operating model. We have seen our clients start down the path of integration only to pull back again because they have run into one or more of the above barriers. Often, we are helping departments for a year to two to adapt their organizations so they can operate in a collaborative, integrated way. Afterall, success sits at the intersection of many marketing SMEs. There has never been a better time for change so why not start now? Onward!