Consumers consistently tell us they want more. More information, more selection, more special offers,
and more ways to access your goods and services.

Enter Multi-Channel Selling and Marketing…

Multi-channel is a buzzword we hear a lot lately. Until recently, it was mostly used in a marketing context to describe a multi-touch approach to reach customers. But more and more, we are hearing it used in referring to selling channels. Let’s take a few minutes to unpack how multi-channel can profit your business.

If there is one positive outcome from the pandemic, it has accelerated how businesses expanded their selling channels. What do I mean by selling channels? A selling channel is how a customer is able to buy products or services from you.  As you would expect, the more ways a customer can buy from you, the higher likelihood you have of making a sale, right?

The traditional “Brick and Mortar” model asks a customer to come to your store and make a purchase in person. Clearly, a successful model, this has been the bedrock of retailing for years. This is selling channel number one.

In recent days we have seen delivery grow in popularity. But what’s old is new again, right? Delivery has been around forever. One of the earliest retail applications started with milk carts in the late 1780s. Yes, over 200 years ago, we had delivered groceries.  Fast forward to the mid-1900s, and we progressed to Chinese food and pizzas. All you did was make a call, and in 30 minutes, it showed up at your door. Today we have websites and apps that do the same thing, and we think we are so innovative. What’s new is the application of delivery to all types of retailers, from groceries to home improvement supplies to every food style imaginable. Having delivery available adds another selling channel.

Curbside” and “In-Store” pick-up are just glorified versions of “call ahead, and we’ll have your order ready.” We have done this for years, but once again, now we are applying it to more and more business sectors and it creates another selling channel.

One of the earliest modern additions to the restaurant world was the drive-through window. Many credit the In-n-Out Burger folks with inventing the concept in 1948. We see drive-thru’s at fast-food restaurants everywhere now because they effectively increase sales. Combine dine-in, drive-thru, then add delivery, and curbside pick up, and you now have four selling channels for this business.

Of course, the biggest game-changer has been the advent of online selling, where no physical store exists. Just a digital selling portal that combines many of the aspects listed above. Online offers shop at home convenience, low price, fast delivery, and for some, entertainment.

The main lesson we can learn from multi-channel selling is that not all customers buy the same way. Some shoppers love online, while others want to feel and see the goods. Some prefer the in-person dining experience, and others want to drive-thru.  The takeaway is, no matter how you sell, if you can introduce additional ways for consumers to buy, you will appeal to more prospective buyers.  More buyers equal more sales.

Just like all consumers don’t want to buy the same way, they also don’t consume advertising the same way. So, it stands to reason the more ways you advertise, the better chance you have of getting their attention.  This is classic Multi-Channel marketing.

Even though we are primarily in the print advertising business, we have often touted the value of including other forms of advertising to broaden your brand’s access to consumers. Conversely, when we see clients moving away from print to use only one type of advertising, we will make a case for retaining print to keep a diversified approach that allows the business to continue reaching the most possible customers.

Consumer research confirms that we all have preferences on how we want brands to reach out to us. We are fortunate that in most studies, print advertising remains in the top tier of methods that consumers trust and value.  In our recent consumer pulse survey almost 55% of respondents told us they preferred print or valued print and digital advertising equally.

But more important than choosing one ad format over another, we need to recognize that the path to purchase is just that; a path. Typically, no one media is solely responsible for a purchase. It’s the combination of touchpoints that finally persuades the consumer to make the decision to buy.

It may happen after only one or two touches, or it may take a dozen or more. One time it’s your print ad that closes the deal, the next time, it’s because of the latest digital spot they saw.

This is the reason multi-channel marketing exists, to accommodate the way today’s customers want to buy. They simply want more.

Hopefully, you have optimized all the selling channels for your business. Now think about all the ways that you are advertising. Has the pandemic caused you to restrict your advertising channels at a time when you need them the most? How many different ways are you reaching the consumer?

Here are a few questions to ask about your advertising?

  • Are you using more than one advertising method?
  • Are your methods targeted?
  • Are your methods verifiable?
  • Are you able to measure your ROI?
  • Are you getting results?

If you answered “No” to any of these questions, you should give us a call. We would be pleased to provide you with a no-obligation marketing analysis and help you see the results print can deliver in supporting your multi-channel marketing plan.

I’ll close with a quote…

“Our jobs as marketers are to understand how the customer wants to buy and help them do so.” – Bryan Eisenberg

That’s Multi-Channel Marketing in a Nutshell