Avoiding a Multi-Channel Marketing Meltdown

By | July 17, 2012

There is no doubt that more and more companies in the print industry are looking to expand their services to include additional marketing channels. Certainly, some have been doing that for many years, while others may just be starting to hop on the transformation path.

The transformation from a print-only business to one that offers multi-channel marketing services certainly requires some big changes.

But in the end, one of the main things that matters is this: Can you help your clients to achieve their business objectives?

Below are some practical points and reminders to guide you down the path of multi-channel marketing success.

Move Fast… But Still Take the Time to Plan!

You want to send your marketing message (or your customer’s message) out to the world.  But how do you go about getting it out there? You have a lot of options…direct mail, email, mobile marketing, social networking, and more.  The good news is you don’t have to make a choice of one option only.

In fact, using a multi-channel marketing campaign combining online and offline efforts is known to work.  But only if you know what you’re doing.  Because if you and your marketing department go full steam ahead with a multi-channel campaign without certain features in place, you may just be headed for a multi-channel marketing meltdown!

It’s imperative that you take the time up-front to get involved with the creation of a strategy and plan that will guide the multi-channel marketing effort.

Always Keep the Target Audience in the Forefront

One major issue in any campaign (not just multi-channel marketing campaigns) is trying to be everything to everyone.  It will never work if you try to be the “right” product or service for the largest amount of people.  Because it’s not about the largest amount of people, it’s about the right people…your target market.

Not everyone wants or needs what you are selling.  But your target market does! So that is the audience you need to fashion your marketing message around.

Consistency and Branding Are Still Critical

Another problem may occur when you “try out” different looks and styles when you send out your various marketing messages in a given campaign.  Sure, I’m all for testing to find out what works. But if the creative on your direct mailer doesn’t match your landing page which doesn’t match your email, that’s not a very good thing.

Multi-channel marketing is not about multiple looks.  Consistency is key.  You want to keep your brand and message consistent.  When prospects and customers see Ads via different media it is imperative that they feel the cohesion.  Otherwise, you confuse your target market, potentially turning them away from your business completely.

Always Keep Moving Forward

As you develop your upcoming multi-channel marketing campaigns, are you implementing interactive features to engage your target market? If not, then you are failing to embrace technology as it evolves.

True interaction moves beyond the mere website visit.  Think about mobile integration or social networking where your prospects and customers will have the ability to get instant feedback from a company representative.

Interaction encourages the building of relationships, and that leads to consumer action.  People like to buy from and work with companies they feel comfortable with, and have a relationship with.  If you don’t add interactive elements into your future multi-channel marketing campaigns, then you’re missing the boat!

In fact, it’s a good idea to encourage feedback from your prospects and especially current customers, to help identify strengths and weaknesses in the whole multi-channel experience.  You want to know how the end recipient feels about the messages, the sales process, your products and services and so on.  No marketing department should live in a bubble, unaware of the perceptions of others.

Integration is Key!

Lastly, it’s important you remember that just because a campaign involves multi-channels, it does not necessarily mean that the multi-channel campaign is integrated.  Shooting out messages in different directions may be your downfall if you don’t create a program that works cohesively.

You can’t treat each channel independently.

Think about all the data and end-user experience you are possibly letting fall between the cracks if you operate this way.  You want to coordinate the marketing with the sales portion and the customer service aspect.  And you want to be able to measure all of your multi-channel marketing efforts in an apple-to-apple manner.

If you lack integration then you are definitely headed for a multi-channel marketing meltdown.

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4 thoughts on “Avoiding a Multi-Channel Marketing Meltdown

  1. jacob aizikowitz

    Many great observations in John’s article. Obviously similar observations were at the heart of founding XMPie, looking for one solution framework that will tie the print and the digital media worlds in a coherent, consistent, and efficient way.

    Everybody wants cross media today, and everybody can with tools that deal with each media separately. They will just have a severe risk of multichannel meltdown to use the terminology above.

    I would add that the consistency that John’s refers to is not about “same design across channels”. Its about the same theme, same offers, etc., but must be such where design can be very channel-specific in order to bring out the best look and feel possible in a given channel.

    For further details one can get a white paper Cary Sherburne and I wrote, a while ago, which is available from the XMPie web site (www.xmpie.com)

  2. Joe Manos

    Great post John as always!

    All of your observations are on point and I would add one other critical component.

    There are many world class solutions to chose from in today’s world. But not all solutions are created equal and you should find a partner that has a vested interest in your success as a multi-channel Marketing Automation services provider.

    We have helped over 1,000 print service providers make the transition to a marketing serves provider and the executives of these companies have claimed that our Fastlaunch Program which trains them in all of the critical areas for success and also provides real-world Go-to-Market tools was the number one reason for their success.

    So evaluate all of the options and talk to other service providers on the best path for real success in today’s multi-channel Marketing Automation marketplace.

    Technology alone won’t get you there. Those that have made a technology purchase and try to find their way on their own rarely achieve success.

  3. John Foley Post author

    Hi Jacob,
    First of all, let me say thank you very much for reading my articles! I absolutely appreciate the interaction as well via the comment.

    As many in the print industry know, I am a huge fan of Cary Sherburne! She consistently has helped to educate companies in the print industry about the importance of taking an an integrated, multi-channel approach to marketing. That is something that our employees strive to do every day as well.

    For anyone that’s looking for additional information on the steps that printers can take to effectively offer multi-channel solutions, please check out http://interlinkONE.com to access our White Paper Archives. We have a ton of great content in there that I know you’ll benefit from!

  4. John Foley Post author

    Thank you for reading my articles here! I appreciate that. I actually just finished speaking to a number of teachers at the IGAEA conference this morning. Many of them absolutely agree that in order for the future leaders of the printing industry to thrive, they have to embrace integrated, multi-channel marketing.

    But the biggest items that I stressed to help them achieve that are:
    – Understanding that a printer may need to transform their business
    – Understanding that they may not necessarily have the right resources in place today (across multiple departments)
    – Understanding that in order to succeed as a company that will provide marketing services, they must be tremendous marketers for their own company first
    – And always striving to practice marketing fundamentals, while still paying attention to emerging trends.

    It was really an exciting morning! I look forward to having the chance to work with many of the students that those teachers will be educating in the year(s) to come, as they can help to continue to push the print industry forward.

    For more information on the IGAEA conference and my presentation, please visit the Blog on http://interlinkONE.com.

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