Worth Considering: Multi-channel marketing

Worth ConsideringRegardless of what you think of her, it’s clear to see that Martha Stewart has an aptitude for marketing. There’s the videos, the magazine, the web site, the books, the affiliations with retailers and more. Each leverages visibility for the other, increasing value – and advertising revenue – for all. Martha, beyond her status as the diva of decor, is the maven of “multi-channel marketing.”

What is multi-channel marketing? It’s using a variety of media to deliver one message – like e-mail, web site, paper, personal visits – just like Martha knows; each supports the other and enhances the value to all. The sum really is worth more than the whole.

This is particularly pertinent for two reasons. First, today more than any other time in history, the variety of media methods to deliver a message is exploding. One hundred years ago getting a letter was exciting, but “direct mail” as we know it really didn’t kick off until after World War II. Radio broadcasting was established by then, but I couldn’t tell you if any nonprofits used it. By the 1970’s telephone solicitation was unique and by the late 1980’s people dabbled in “fax campaigns,” but the next real leap didn’t happen until e-mail. Now social networking sites and podcasting are emerging as the next great communications tools for nonprofits.

Second, the problem with the explosion of communications media is that you don’t know which one – or two or three – is the best way to communicate with your constituents. Added to that is the fact that people learn and perceive information in different ways. When you just had mail, how we liked to get information wasn’t┬áreally important. Now with multiple media approaches, your audience can gravitate to the method s/he best picks up the information.

For better or worse, layered on top of all of this is the expense that comes with running different approaches. This is where Martha has a distinct advantage. My guess is that her budget’s a bit bigger than yours.

I’m not going to tell you which method you should use, but I am going to tell you that one, or even two, isn’t going to be effective on their own. And, more important than that, is that whichever you select, the messages need to coordinate. The topic on e-mail needs to relate to the podcast and get mentioned on your web site and your Facebook page with a plug in the phonathon script. Think of it as one big happy communications family.

Of course, I’m biased. In the thick of all of this is good copywriting that coordinates between each media type. That’s where I can come in to help. But regardless of whether you enlist me to do the work or you handle it in-house, coordinating between media types makes for an effective message.