Integrated marketing – are you channel-centric or customer-centric?

Fuel Marketing - blog imageOften in client meetings I am asked the dreaded loaded question. “In your opinion, which marketing channel will work best for us?” Now I always try to be careful with my answer because sometimes people have been told that one channel marketing, usually involving online stuff with plenty of social media input, is the answer, whereas in my experience I know that no one channel has all the answers.

Every marketing channel has merit in its own right and no channel is better than another. What makes this world interesting is that you cannot find two people alike, meaning that no two people respond to different channels in the exact same manner. The key to attaining optimal results is to promote your brand, product, or service across a host of different channels that work together cohesively to get your message across.

That’s called integrated marketing and you will find that success comes into play when you use one channel to optimise another in an effort to create a marketing campaign that works together to generate a positive brand image. For example, I write a fortnightly blog – the one you are reading right now. I put this blog on my website but strangely enough no one knows it’s there. So I use Twitter, LinkedIn and email marketing to let people know what it is and where it is. I also ask my lovely and obliging business partners to put it on their websites too.  As you can see here, I am using other channels to publicise my blog.

7 + points of contact 

Obviously some channels work better for certain products, services and industries, and essentially what we are all looking for is the one which brings in the most leads, orders, customers as well as having the highest return on investment. But if you accept that it takes 7 + points of contact (touch points with your brand) for prospects to be aware of you, let alone want to buy from you, and that people respond to different triggers via different channels, then you can see the importance of covering all the bases.

When I put together marketing campaigns for clients, I study their industry, undertake comprehensive client, market and competitor research, leverage their budget and then design a 7 point of contact strategy that will raise brand awareness, create trust and loyalty. An average campaign tends to involve direct mail, email, telemarketing, advertising, PR, social media and networking all delivered in a timely and targeted manner with strong calls to action.

When it comes to marketing your customers are the only people who matter!

However, as business owners you need to know that things are once again on the change and now I am finding that being channel-centric is not the answer – the only way to be in order to achieve success is to be customer-centric. Being customer-centric is by definition cross-channel and increasingly channel-agnostic. Obviously, we still need to understand the specifics of various marketing tactics and channels but its increasingly obvious that it’s now longer a good use of time or resources to put all of our marketing into appropriately labelled silos.

When it boils down to optimising conversion rates regardless of the channels, there is one thing that matters: consistency and relevance across all touch points. To achieve that and maintain value we must look at every interaction a (prospective) customer has with our brand both online and offline. It is only by looking at each single touch point, direct and indirect, that we can succeed in offering great experiences and, doing so, achieving best conversion possible.

Relevance is in the eye of the beholder

What we all need to understand is the following. We don’t matter. Our messages don’t matter. Our channels don’t matter. Relevance is in the eye of the beholder. And we’re not the beholder. But remember it takes time to achieve the perfect customer-centric brand– so take your time and use the channels wisely. Always monitor and measure what you do and once you have some useful statistics and feedback, you can revise what you do, spend less money, be more targeted and of course get better results.