We don't decide which channels people use. They do. But we can decide what sort of experience we give them.
We operate in a complex landscape, characterised by an explosion of channels, converged technologies and consumer control.
Imagine for a moment that you are 'people' too. Go on, pull off those professional shoes, put on your just-another-human-being shoes and go for a stroll ... think about your own experiences shopping, making an enquiry, trying to find something, completing a form ... whether in the digital or analog world.
We want the same experience across all channels.
We don't care or need to know how a business is organised internally. We don't think in terms of channels. We just want to get what we came for and have the same experience whenever we engage with an organisation, no matter what channel we use. If we have different experiences on different channels, or if different channels are not linked, we feel a sense of disorientation, uncertainty and frustration which undermine our trust.
We don't use channels in a linear way.
We don't operate within single channels. We go where we want, when we want. We misbehave. Most of us use at least two channels in our interactions with an organisation. And if we are restricted (even if lovingly), we rebel ... because we can. We have options. We have freedom.
We have high expectations of what a fast and easy service is.
Organisations that use those words lose our respect quickly if the experience doesn't match up. We have experienced fast and easy services so we know it can be done. We will find inspirations that shape our expectations like Dieter Ram's 10 Principles of Good Design and then email them to customer service teams as thoughtful suggestions :) How often have you wondered if staff in an organisation ever actually use their own channels?
We have power and influence.
We have greater control than ever before about what reaches us, what we can avoid and what captures our imagination. We defy previously-defined social, geographic and economic demographics. Many of us, of all ages and backgrounds, are now in the digital-savvy segment dubbed Generation C. It's all about creativity, community, co-creation, connectedness, channel convergence and control. We're the ones who can build our own websites and social networks, reach many people with our rating of products and take photos and videos that drive news headlines.
The solution is to make all your channels work together, to give people the same experience with your organisation no matter which doorway they walk through.
This is also known as integrated marketing communication ... and, yes, it is a thing.
- It makes doing business with you easier and gives people confidence and trust in your organisation.
- It can make a large organisation accessible and efficient. It can make a small business popular and robust.
- It is one of the most effective ways you can realise the full value of your marketing communication spend.
- It's not a new approach. In fact it's been around for a long time. Common sense but not always common practice - it's primarily younger businesses, free of legacy and silo thinking, making the most of it.
- But that's changing. We now operate in an increasingly complex marketing environment, characterised by an explosion of channels, converged technologies and consumer control.
- You can chose to see this as a risk or an opportunity. Either way, IMC capability is now viewed as a critical success factor. In 2012, a survey showed 68% of 1,850 US Chief Marketing Officers put integrated marketing communication ahead of 'effective advertising'. In 2014, a study of 1,000 Australian digital marketing and ecommerce professionals showed that 67% considered the 'orchestration of marketing activities across channels' to be a priority.
- But by far the most-compelling reason to do it is that it's what people want and expect.