16 September 2010

Channel Neutral vs. Channel Chaos

TORONTO – Today in Canada we spent the afternoon discussing channel-neutral planning.

The U.S., Saudi Arabia, Canada and beyond

This story really started yesterday in Chicago, however, when we were working on a U.S. assignment. The client wanted us to get a brand “back on the air” after several years by virtue of a new product launch. The assumption was broadcast advertising. Thinking it over, the team saw for this product that TV advertising alone would only drive awareness, perhaps missing opportunities to engage the consumer much closer to the purchase decision.

A colleague who spent much of his career in the Middle East observed how this kind of channel-neutral thinking comes much more naturally outside the U.S. “This is how we always worked in Saudi Arabia,” he said. I’ve had exactly the same experience working in or with countries all over the world. Clients and agencies tend to be less divided into departmental silos, so teamwork comes more naturally.

This same integrated dynamic applies to Canada, where the channel-neutral mindset has always been strong.

Channel-neutral meets Channel Chaos

Having a mindset isn’t enough, though, because the choice of channels is complicated. In the days of Ye Olde Marketing, we had mass media, retail and perhaps direct mail or public relations. In the year 2010, we have so many options that some analysis is required, and that’s what brought me to Toronto today. How do you sort through it all?

The basic principles are simple but not always easy. Know your target. Understand what triggers a purchase. Identify what considerations ensue. Envision the moment of purchase. Figure out how to reinforce loyalty and ensure a repeat customer. You may have this down to a formula; in my QSR days our mantra was “bring ‘em in, trade ‘em up, keep ‘em coming back.”

Still, the choices available for engaging consumers at each part of this story are mind-boggling. Ironically, the efficient size of organizations that reduces departmental silos also reduces the available data and research you can use to analyze this process. Just like in the old days you must make some assumptions. In an age of data and research, this can be frustrating.

Channel Chaos meets Channel Control

There are a number of software developments in the market, in beta-testing or in development that will help us sort through these choices, so stay tuned. Today there was an interesting Adweek article about what IBM has been up to this summer. I’m not sure if it’s the wave of the future but it’s exactly the kind of tool that could help us all turn Channel Chaos into Channel Control.

No comments:

Post a Comment