In an age where social platforms are introduced about as often as new flavors of potato chips, many brands (and people) fall into a trap.

Should we be on that? Should we be everywhere?

Everyone wants to be everywhere. Which has led to mass confusion. But that also means there is mass opportunity. Those who do omni-channel strategies right reap the rewards. Because there are so many doing it wrong.

Good brands know about new advertising opportunities and platforms as they emerge. Great brands know which ones to say “no” to.

The confusion starts with language. I’m sure you’ve heard “omni-channel” in meeting rooms, at a conference, or maybe even from an over-informed family member. It’s a buzzword. So you can count on it being misused about as often as it is used properly.

Let’s start there: What does omni-channel strategy mean in the context of marketing and advertising?

Marketing removes barriers to a sale.  Advertising tells stories to connect consumers to products. Objectives tell us where we want to be, and strategy tells how we should get there. Tactics are what we take on the road.

See strategy in there? The map. And tactic? The car. Those two make up what an omni-channel strategy is: ​taking multiple paths (strategies) and multiple cars (tactics) to ensure we get to the destination (objective).

Now, picture a Venn diagram.

On the left, list where your audience spends time. Maybe it’s on social media. Which platforms? Maybe it’s on certain websites like weather or news. Maybe they’re not online at all because they pass time at coffee houses and pubs.

On the right, list where is right for your brand. If you’re in healthcare, TikTok probably isn’t the right place to talk about serious health risks. But it might be perfect for something like an “ugly sweaters for you and your cat” brand.

Then, see what overlaps from your left and right lists. This is a great place to start your omni-channel strategy.

Next, think about the path a consumer takes to do the thing you want them to do. For instance, buy jeans. A consumer may see a digital ad, which leads them to your jeans website, which leads them to purchase a pair of jeans. But our job still isn’t over. Advertising is no longer push-only messaging. We can capture the buyer’s email and continue our relationship with them to start the purchase cycle all over again.

This will help you identify “owned” opportunities, places you don’t have to pay to put your message. Like your website, emails, and social media accounts. And don’t forget about point of purchase messaging.

Now, you have your list of paths (strategies) and cars (tactics) that start to inform which omni-channel strategy is right for you.

Launching an Omni-channel Strategy is a little different, too. It’s not like flipping up the glass and pressing the red button once a year. It needs real-time monitoring and adjustments. You’ll make mistakes and learn and make mistakes and learn and make mistakes and learn. Remember, any form of marketing or advertising is a soft science. So you’ll never be complete in the lab. That’s what makes this job fun and challenging at the same time.

Specific results may vary, but overall, you should feel like you’re getting to your destination quicker and cheaper with an omni-channel strategy.

Here’s why.

  • The Rule of Seven: ​It’s a long-acknowledged marketing rule that it takes at least seven times for a consumer to remember a message (though in this age of short attention spans, we think that number is probably even higher). You could repeat the same thing in the same place. But that takes longer than having different messages in different places. When you have different messages in different places, you don’t have to wait to re-engage. If you’re saying the same thing in the same place, you need a buffer between messages so you don’t sound like a wind-up toy.
  • Authenticity:​ 2020’s favorite word for a reason. People are used to making and seeing content anywhere anytime. So it’s easier than ever to sniff out phony brands who are only interested in selling everywhere they message. An omni-channel strategy takes the pressure off. You don’t have to get every point across in every message because you can make different points in different places.
  • The Beauty’s in The Buyer: ​People don’t buy like they used to. Some prefer to walk into a store, check out products, then buy them online. Some prefer to chat with a salesperson. Others, a chatbot. Some may buy from Instagram. Some get everything from Amazon. An omni-channel strategy allows us the best chances of being where they’re buying. Everywhere.
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