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Creativity, interactive communications and brand-building elements are all crucial to successful integrated marketing campaigns, but above all else, the efforts must keep in mind the importance of building a customer database.

"Every tactical element a company executes should be part of a campaign, and every part of a campaign should help build the database," said Clarke Caywood, director of the public relations program at Northwestern University's Medill School of Journalism. He's also an integrated marketing consultant for IBM Corp.

The university's third annual integrated marketing communications symposium begins April 6 in Evanston, Ill. The symposium also marks the department's fifth year of refocusing marketing instruction on integrated communications.

The event includes announcing three winners from more than 100 entries in the first Out of the Box contest. The competition, which drew businesses and students, rewards the best thinking in integrated marketing communications.

"Some entries were well-executed traditional marketing efforts using a typical marketing mix and promotions around a key objective. I don't know if it's just good marketing or integrated marketing because everyone's definition of integrated marketing is so different," said Tonise Paul, one of the judges and senior VP-management supervisor at BBDO, Chicago.

"The symposium attempts to get people to think about communicating with customers in new ways," said Don Schultz, former department chairman at Northwestern and founding editor of the Journal of Direct Marketing.

Northwestern faculty and industry leaders will discuss concepts crucial to successful integrated marketing.

John W. Thompson, IBM VP-general manager of marketing, will give the keynote address.

"With continued pressure on margins and sales, companies need to look for better techniques to execute marketing plans," Mr. Thompson said. "A symposium like this shows how important it is to think about strategy before going to market."

"You can't be an effective communicator unless you know your customer and understand how they process information. So it is essential that all the brand contacts surrounding your marketing offer-shelf placement, word-of-mouth, advertising-say something about your brand," said Lisa Fortini-Campbell, associate professor in the integrated marketing communications department.

Added Stan Tannenbaum, associate professor and department chairman: "We've got to be creative in the way we answer our 800-numbers, creative in the trade show booth, creative in interpreting research and creative when we listen to people."

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