There are many different channels and options for companies
to interact with customers, but which ones are right for you, and why is a
multi-channel strategy better than a multiple channel strategy?
It seems that every month there is a new channel of
opportunity to communicate with your customer. With all the different options,
how does a company select which one(s) are right for their business, and how do
you put a strategy together to maximize the effectiveness?
First, there are way too many channels to review each one,
but there is an understanding that can be applied to each that should be a part
of your overall Marketing and Channel Strategy. The important factors are: what
are you trying to say, how do you want to be perceived, who is the customer
that you are looking to reach, and when should you engage certain
Before I address these questions, let us look at the
difference between a multi-channel and a multiple channel strategy. Understanding
the difference will be very important as you move to select different channels
to promote your message, sell your products, and connect your brand with
Multi-channel strategy involves selecting channels (ex.
print, direct mail, television, online media, social networks (Facebook,
YouTube, Twitter, etc.) that are based on creating awareness of your product or
service, driving the customer to the procurement phase with a consistent
message across channels, and most importantly using the different channels to
complement each other, as well as maximizing the different channels value-added
proposition to align the message and engage the customer. This form of
marketing opens the doors to different formats to engage a prospective customer
using a consistent message with the understanding that the strength of a
multi-channel strategy is only as good as its weakest link, thus no channel
should be engaged independently. The focus is on communications with the
knowledge that customers jump across channels to obtain information, and that
no single channel will be the panacea, but by selecting targeted channels with
messages that complement each other your chance of moving that customer to the procurement
phase increases exponentially.
In addition, each channel should be supported by analysis
with regards to return on the investment for that channel. Though measurements
will vary per channel based on its form of communications, this is a critical
step as you move forward with additional communications while determining which
channels offer you the best value and opportunity to connect with your
Multiple Channel Strategy is typified by the term 3E's
(Everything to Everybody Everywhere). This is a scattergun approach where you
shoot nuggets of information across many different channels, but there is no
focus on creating a targeted message that maximizes the value of the different
channels. You are not utilizing what the new channels of communications bring
to the table with regards to engaging customers on their terms.
It is important to remember that the customer selects the
channel and format that they like to use, so it is critical to determine which
channels the customers use and engage them on the customer's terms, not
Everything to Everybody Everywhere.
The major difference between Multi-Channel and Multiple
Channels is that with a Multi-Channel Strategy you are aligning the customer's
characteristics and communications format with a brand, product, or service
promise, thus you can focus what are you trying to say, how you want to be
perceived, who is the customer that you are looking to reach, and when should
you engage certain channels.
Let us take a look at a few of the different channels and
how they complement each other within a Multi-Channel Strategy. Example: I was
hired to create awareness for a very exclusive event that will be attended by many
different prominent figures in a location that is not readily accessible to all
prospective customers. For this example, I set up a Multi-Channel Strategy
using direct mail, email blasts, select website communications (highly
positioned and prominent websites only), Twitter, Facebook, and YouTube. The
reason I selected this specific group of channels for my Multi-Channel Strategy
is that I know my customer base with regards to which channels that they use,
thus I am in a position to create the overall strategy to be layered onto the
select channels with designated timing for each.
With a lot of lead time, I will send out direct mail to
start the word-of-mouth going on the event. Next, I will engage select email blasts closer
to the timing of the event knowing the dynamics of email versus direct mail. In
addition, I will start the buzz going online by engaging complementary websites
that hold a prominent position and high ranking within the major search engines
as well as have a strong following to ensure that the pre-message reaches the
right audience; this is critical when managing your investment in time and
money to maximize your return by working with only progressive, prominent
websites that have a powerful Internet
Presence. The message will be consistent, and will be channel
specific in nature to create enough interest that the customer will delve into
additional channels for more information. Depending on the event, there may be
prior experiences I could share with people via Facebook or YouTube that could
be launched simultaneously with the direct mail and/or email blasts.
Timing on this step varies by product, access to information,
and the ability to manage the message to meet your needs, thus if there is not
enough streaming video available to complement my message then I will wait
until after the event when I will have the communications to meet my needs. If
the information is not available or does not complement my overall
Multi-Channel Strategy then it is better to wait on this step and not engage it
just because everyone else is using streaming video. Control of what you say
and when you say it is still in your hands while the medium of choice is
controlled by the customer, so utilize the Multi-Channel Strategy to its
maximum and control the process.
So, where does a tool like Twitter come into play, well I
will use it to drum up excitement for the event as it draws near, but remember
that Twitter is a dynamic communication tool that is only as good as its last
Tweet. This is a powerful communications tool to use during the event to draw in
customers from the controlled direct mail, email blasts, and website
communications who were not able to attend. After the event, I will utilize a
new round of direct mail and email blasts to complement the online streaming
video postings in Facebook and YouTube as I build towards future events.
This was a simplistic example, but if you draft the overall
message that you want to communicate against your customer base layered on top
of the Multi-Channel Strategy you can then develop a discrete message that is
aligned to your customer per channel.
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