Marketing is like dieting.

We all talk about it, but few of us actually follow through. That comparison came up as I was talking with colleagues about the difficulty businesses have committing to a long term marketing plan, and many seem to be looking for a quick solution for reaching major business goals. I wish that we had a magic pill to offer, but to achieve lasting and tangible results, ongoing work is required. Seldom have I met a business owner that did not have some great ideas for marketing their business, and many get started working on them. The problem arises when ideas are not pursued long enough to make a difference and show results.

What are your new year’s resolutions?
So here we are at the beginning of a new year, and I am sure you have set marketing and sales goals for your business. The best way to reach your goals is with a multichannel marketing plan. This will give you a long term road map that you can follow and build upon, in order to see results from your efforts.

There is a multichannel highway.
To start at the beginning, a marketing channel is any one of the methods your business can use to market, sell, and communicate with your customers and prospects. Online channels include your website, email, and social media. Offline channels include print ads, direct mail, radio, and television. Many offline channels can now be accessed online, for example radio and television. These very broad categories are essentially the channel highways. Leading to those highways are additional roads and paths for communication including trade shows, sales calls, blogs, mobile messaging, and more.

Your customers are using every marketing channel.
The channels for communication continue to grow as technology expands. We are currently experiencing the growth of the internet, the explosion of cable television networks, increased competition both locally and globally, the rapid rise of mobile media, along with more options and products for staying connected via the internet (tablets, smartphones, etc).

Your customers have more choices, more information, and easier methods for researching and purchasing most every type of product and service. Your customer is in full control of the sales process and will shop when and where they choose, looking for the most compelling offers and convenient service. Because of this, finding a way to reach large segments of your potential audience can be more difficult. You now have to divide up your resources in order to be found in the many channels your customers use.

More channels give you more options.
This proliferation of media channels may appear to be a marketing headache, but it also presents the opportunity to expose more people to your message. Studies show that you need to touch someone at least eight times to make an impression, you now have more options for doing that. The goal is to orchestrate all of your marketing activities so that each channel works independently while they complement and reinforce each other.

Start to build a multichannel marketing plan.
With so many channels to choose from, it is increasingly important to intelligently allocate marketing dollars and utilize each channel in the most effective way. Once you recognize which channels your customers and prospects are using, and understand how to use each channel to your advantage, you can build a marketing plan that is powerful and cost-effective.

I will be focusing attention on the concepts, plans, and components of multichannel marketing throughout this year. Please feel free to send your thoughts, questions, and ideas to

A version of this article also appeared in the NAMTA (International Art Materials Retailers) eNewsletter.

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