Thursday, May 18, 2006

It's one... multi-channel world

Okay... this blog's a bit on heavy on the academic/theory side. I promise though... there's a point at the end.

Here's my main question: Have you ever wondered why people continue to silo their marketing efforts, yet spend millions of dollars building a seamless brand?

Connectedness is pervasive at this point in the society of the consumer (for the purposes of this discussion, I define consumer as... everyone). Information and experiences are increasingly interrelated and there are tons of discussions going on about how the "next generation" of consumers... workers... whatever it is you want to describe them... live in a completely connected world. Google knits together information for them... as John Battelle (in his book The Search) describes into a "database of intentions." The text messages and streamed video to their cell phones... it is all about being connected. So it stands to reason that for your brand to stay with this group, it needs to be connected too.

Yet... Organizations are still aligned around specific market segments that sometimes really limit thinking on a "multi-channel" scale. An example of this limited thinking might be a statement like this: "what reaches a retail consumer isn't the same as what reaches a small business owner." Are we saying that the consumer couldn't be a small business owner too? In our new "connected" world, the answer is probably... yes they are a member of both groups. So that begs the question, do you market to them differently with tailored messages, or do you try to reach them in a manner that is consistent with your brand position... across whatever "role" that consumer currently is "playing" (owner or retail consumer in this case). The answer is, you need to bring it back to your brand first. Your brand is the same brand... no matter what role you're trying to reach in our increasingly connected society. Once you have the solid brand position, you can then extend it via the most effective medium (email, text message, print ad, direct mail, or a combination of all) using the traits inherent in that medium that will most effectively deliver the message.

So... what's the moral of the story? I think that organizations that are NOT looking at their structure... especially retailers but also businesses in the B2B market, and figuring out how to structure marketing planning and even operational planning, so that they can service each market's individuality while at the same time maintaining that consistent presence across all channels, are going to miss opportunities in the new "connected economy." The organizations addressing this now... or that have addressed this, will be the ones you want to buy stock in (if you don't have it already...). Which one will you be?

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