by Fabian Sautier — 11 September 2016
For years, us marketers have been told to target our customers across a significant amount of contact points (touchpoints, TPs) in order to achieve awareness and relevancy for our products or services. The logic was that an increased amount of TPs will maximize the chances of contact and therefore the probability of landing a sale.
A whole industry of consultants has emerged around this notion of a “360 Marketing Strategy” designed to accompany a consumer throughout the different stages of the purchase path, selling so-called “Integrated Marketing Communication” (IMC) concepts to marketing departments across almost every industry.
Yet, having designed and executed 360 strategies on a global scale for several years myself, I argue that this approach has become increasingly ineffective and is already outdated in certain industries where consumer behaviour and thus the purchase decision-making process have dramatically evolved.
First, designing a working 360 strategy required gathering massive amounts of data about your target group. You needed to map your potential customers’ behaviour against a list of predetermined TPs that could quickly become 30 to 50 items long. Generating and capturing this data entailed significant market research investments, that especially smaller or early-stage companies often could not afford.
Once the role of every TP was defined, the ideal investment mix among TPs had to be determined, i.e. you needed to decide how much you are going to invest into every TP. This decision is particularly tricky, as it is very hard to estimate the precise return on investment of an isolated TP.
Even though you could build (or have built) an econometrical model to help you measure the precise impact of a TP and therefore the amount of money you should probably invest in it, these models will, at least in my experience, only be indicative (while being very expensive). Moreover, following an investment recommendation to split a marketing budget into dozens of TPs will eventually reduce the sales impact per TP. This, in turn will deteriorate ROI measurability and make an investments adjustment for follow-up campaigns more complicated.
So how can you overcome this dilemma while maximizing engagement with your (potential) customers at the same time?
You need to start by taking a step back from your product and deeply think about your consumer’s expectation and purchase driver environment. This means that you need to think beyond a simple conversion (sale), but about how you can create a unique and memorable experience for your customer. Unique, because you want to be perceived as different and superior from your competitors and memorable because you want to make a lasting impression on consumers, thus maximizing life-time value of your customer and generating word-of-mouth referrals.
Traditional product is dead; experience is the new product. The implication for marketers are huge. They need to rethink their 360 strategies and ask themselves across which TP and how to build a unique and memorable experience for their customers.
My experience has shown me that in today’s consumer environment marketers need to focus on three TPs: Digital, Retail and Events. Because these TPs are highly immersive (potential to leverage captivating storytelling), highly customizable (potential to target individually), highly interconnected (potential to catalyze each other).
Digital, be it through social media, a mobile app or a website, allows for in-depth level of captivating storytelling and consumer interaction. As always, content is decisive, yet digital by itself is the ideal TP to engage and excite consumers and make them active participants in your brand experience. Beyond its standalone capacities, Digital can enhance or prolong Retail and Event TPs, which makes it indispensable to create stickiness and increase consumer loyalty, especially via mobile digital relays.
Retail, despite being expensive, trumps any other TP in terms of brand storytelling capacity. No matter your retail expression (store, boutique, pop-up…), no other TP allows customers to dive in-depth into your values, brand equity and universe. Personalized interaction (advice, terminals…) can create a differentiating and memorable experiences. Also, Retail allows for a precise and holistic design expression of your brand – customers can see and feel what your “brand world” really is. This is not the case when your product is distributed next to competitors with outside distributors.
Events can be costly and time-consuming to organize, yet they offer unique opportunities to let your (potential) consumers live your brand and create a lasting connection with them. Beyond simple engagement, which all your competitors will try to achieve, brand events create excitement and a sense of belonging to a community or even privileged group of people, e.g. for invitation-only events. Events leveraged by digital can become a powerful source of consumer-generated content that will create extend the event’s durability and reach far beyond the actual event date.
If you are currently thinking about how to market a new product or service, I encourage you to consider first Digital, Retail and Events – and to replace complex 360 by the simple Power Of 3.
What are your thought on the right touchpoint mix? We would love to hear your perspective in the comment section below.
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