The difference between multichannel and omnichannel can be helpfully illustrated by using an orchestral metaphor. Multichannel marketing is like deploying a series of soloists – each a master of their art but their repertoire and reach is a little limited by their single talent.
Omnichannel marketing, on the other hand, is the orchestra – all musicians playing together in time, guided by the conductor, each making music that is greater than the sum of its individual parts. Indeed, to hear a violinist playing their part alone, without the rest of their musical peers, would be to lose the context and story being told by the orchestra. Their role only really works as part of a whole.
The composer provides the orchestra the musical rules to follow, the conductor guides them in sticking to those musical rules, and the sound and lighting engineers make sure the result looks and sounds as accomplished as possible. It’s a team effort.
So, too, with Omnichannel marketing. For it all to come together, omnichannel marketing needs the support and cooperation of a whole range of players. Without this central support, it just becomes an ill timed, discordant mess.
Leading industry research and advisory organization, Forrester, makes this abundantly clear in its recent research report When And How To Start The Shift To Omnichannel Content , but the title omits another critical element besides the when and the how of omnichannel content marketing – the who .
Opportunities and challenges in omnichannel occur at multiple points across the organization. Some strategic content initiatives begin within the digital experience team, as at brands like Toyota or LEGO, for example. Alternatively, social media may be driving a new approach – such as in the crisis management campaign that emerged when KFC did the unthinkable and ran out of chicken. What started as a sassy but savvy social media exchange turned into ad campaigns and a whole, award winning brand positioning exercise.
But a smooth transition such as KFC’s could not have happened if the whole company and its content marketing strategy weren’t already working together in concert (to stretch the musical metaphor just a touch further). Collaboration and cooperation across the organization is vital for success.
By finding those areas of the business that are likely to see the most immediate benefits of moving to omnichannel content, marketers have the biggest chance of demonstrating deliverables quickly. These departments will be most likely to adopt and advocate for omnichannel content, having seen it quickly bear fruit.
Similarly, seeking out support from IT to improve existing systems has the potential to deliver rapid returns. Rationalizing systems such as the decoupling of content storage and presentation done by the George Lucas Educational Foundation gives more clarity about what technical resources are available to teams and how their use can be maximized.
Quick wins are useful for demonstrations but ultimately, marketers will have to look for the big, long term investment (time, money, resources – or all three) to knit the omnichannel strategy fully together. That means being able to articulate the benefits to management and to show how these changes in strategy will play out.
For example, cost savings are always welcome. Vitra , a Swiss furnishing retailer, saved 800,000 euros a year in content production through the way it chose to develop and deliver content to its stores, websites, ecommerce site and catalogs. It also took the opportunity to analyse the way content was consumed by customers, helping it to better understand customers’ interests.
Understanding and supporting the creation of omnichannel content across the whole organization is vital for future business efficiency and effectiveness. Cruce Saunders, founder of consulting firm Simple [A] sets out the task ahead: “The challenge of managing content strategically is falling to underfunded marketing and techcomm groups … who are ill equipped with the authority or budget to enact change across the bigger picture of customer experience.”