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May 5, 2016
Managing Multichannel Marketing
Multichannel marketers want the whole enchilada; a multi-channel, multi-dimensional, multi-faceted, efficiently budgeted marketing program wrapped up in an ROI-positive bow.

Finding a way to synchronize target psycho-demographics with a detailed customer journey that integrates with a brand’s posture, positioning, content, and channel ecosystem and aligns with a comprehensive media budget executed using the latest and greatest technology in service to measurable business goals is the ultimate CMO fantasy. And, if possible, express a multi-channel master plan in a single slide.

But there are eight significant speed bumps that must be overcome on the road to nirvana.

No Silver Bullet. There is no universal formula for mastering multichannel marketing. There may be repeatable and scalable tactics for individual brands or brand portfolios, but the number of independent and contingent variables make a universal MCM plan impossible.

Customer Experience is the Driver. Start by defining whom you need to speak with and what you want those people to see, hear, think, feel, and do. The answer to these questions is rarely automatic or clear. Don’t assume everybody instinctively understands this because they don’t. Nailing the desired experience, articulating it clearly, and gaining consensus or alignment is the critical first step to drive creative and channel development.

Target Tactically. The attitudes and behaviors of your target population dictate everything. Understanding the psycho-demographics, experiences, practical behaviors, and motivations of your target customers requires data and insight. Very few target populations are homogenous or behave consistently, so you’ll have to tease out the segments and address them directly or independently. 

Focus on the Big Idea. Once you know whom you’re talking to and what you want them to feel and do, the search for a big creative idea kicks into high gear. What message can credibly penetrate, animate, mobilize, and influence your target customers? The challenge is finding a creative concept broad enough to be communicated across channels.

Pick a Message Strategy. How you will present the message? Will it be blasted out as a roadblock across channels, kicked off with or tied to a live or streaming event, or subtly parsed among channels with variations aimed at target segments? Understanding segments and consumer behavior across channels will guide you to the optimal approach for communicating your message. Your positioning in the marketplace, budgets, brand awareness, and the competitive arena will influence these choices.

Forecast. Brands can get a pretty fair read on their customers’ interests, influences, and habits. Use these in projecting how the big idea and the message strategy might be received. There is a reasonable amount of predictability in each business category. Don’t ignore this data; use it. In fact, research techniques are emerging not only to test the big idea and its creative executions but also to test which channels might be most powerful for the job.

Maximize Media Mix. Effective channel strategies begin with a clear understanding of how your target uses media matched to hypotheses about which channel best accomplishes which marketing task. It helps to understand and plan for media synergies by recognizing which channels go together, complement each other, or fill in for weaknesses.

What are baseline or table stakes channels? Which have resonated well in the past? Which channels are worthy of testing? What will be your awareness vehicles? What will cater to or reward loyalists? How will you generate and nurture new leads? How can you generate buzz, mobilize influences, and drive traffic or user-generated content? And what is the relative weight of these tasks when measured against the business objectives of your campaign? The last question should drive budget allocations.

Optimize. Measurement is a given. Real-time measurement can lead to optimization; the agile process of responding to your audiences by maximizing the impact of media dollars spent by shifting allocations on the fly or by responding to your customers’ signals. Digital media enable optimization on short notice.

Multichannel marketing is a way of strategically thinking about going-to-market rather than a cookie-cutter template for messages, media, timing, or budgeting. Thinking through these eight steps will increase the likelihood of success.

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Danny Flamberg, EVP Managing Director of Digital Strategy and CRM at Publicis based in New York, has been building brands and building businesses for more than 30 years.Prior to joining Publicis, he led a successful global consulting group called Booster Rocket, as Managing Partner. Before becoming a consultant, he was Vice President of Global Marketing at SAP, SVP and Managing Director at Digitas in New York and Europe and President of Relationship Marketing at Amiratti Puris Lintas and Lowe Worldwide.
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