We Know Multichannel Works . . . Now What?

By | May 28, 2015

We all know multichannel marketing works. The question is no longer the value of that approach. It’s the challenges of selecting the right channels, integrating those channels, and the costs associated with doing it well. How much additional benefit do they get from adding channels in light of the amount of time, effort, and expertise required to do it? It’s the classic cost/benefit analysis.

One of the first steps is detangling from the concept of omnichannel marketing. The marketing world abounds in white papers on omnichannel, or writers might call it 360-degree marketing or precision marketing. But these white papers spend more time talking about an ideal marketing world that is accessible only by the likes of big retailers and telecoms. Discussions focus on benefits, not implementation, and by the end of the white paper, you realize you haven’t really read anything of substance. The realities of the IT, software, and database integration requirements call for expertise, capital investments, and human resources (translated “time”) that the average company doesn’t have.

Omnichannel marketing is a reality—and it’s powerful. But true omnichannel marketing is still the realm of the haves and have nots. If you’re Amazon.com, Bloomingdale’s, or Starbucks, this is the world you live in. If you’re a small or mid-sized business, you’re on the outside looking in.

This doesn’t mean that highly effective multichannel marketing is inaccessible. But for MSPs to get over the fear factor and be successful, multichannel has to be separated from omnichannel. True multichannel marketing is just that: integrated marketing campaigns that use more than one channel. Print followed up by email is multichannel. QR Codes on packaging or retail displays that send people to mobile video is multichannel. Direct mail that encourages people to log into a personalized URL or sign up for a Facebook contest is multichannel.

These are simple campaigns that are easily accessible by any sized marketer . . . or printer, for that matter.

For printers, the challenge is that digital marketing companies do this well . . . on the digital side. But digital companies don’t always understand or relate well to print. Print companies do print well, but the exploding world of digital marketing is out of their realm of expertise. So, for the most part, print and digital marketing still live in separate worlds. It is changing, but slowly.

As the old saying goes, “You can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make him drink.” Digital marketers emphasize what they know, and so do printers. You can provide a full breadth of marketing channels in an integrated marketing solution, but you can’t make marketers (or their MSPs) use them. For maximum impact, both sides of the marketing fence need to be willing to reach across the aisle.

Are you reaching?

This post adapted from “Multichannel Marketing in the Printing Industry: 2015.”

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