5 Top 2014 Challenges For Channel Marketing Strategists Pt 1

I’m in marketing – it’s something that I enjoy doing and it’s also my work every day. Chances are, if you saw this headline and chose to read this, you are in marketing too and you feel a lot of the same challenges that we all do.

Last week we hosted a webinar entitled #WTF?  What’s The Future of Business? with author/analyst Brian Solis of Altimeter Group and our own VP of Client Experience, Jeff Bennett. There was a lot of good material that stood out to me during the course of their discussion. (If you missed it, you can watch it HERE) As a marketer though, Brian’s slide about the current top challenges for marketing strategists really caught my attention. In our work at 360, we are not only marketing our company, but also helping others in their channel marketing and consumer programs, such as rebates.

Brian laid out the Top 2014 challenges  for marketing strategists thusly:

    1. Accessing and leveraging customer data from multiple channels and data sources.
    2. Coordination across marketing channels (mobile, social, display, etc)
    3. Introducing more engaging multi-channel campaigns, copy and design.
    4. Understanding the connected customer (Attention, Behaviour & Context)
    5. Lack of resources, budget and support. 

I thought it would be useful to look at these through a channel marketing lens and with an eye for some ways to engage digital solutions.
1.  Accessing and leveraging customer data from multiple channels and data sources.

The first half of this one should actually be getting to be a breeze for you by now.  Hopefully your company is running your incentive programs using a sophisticated software solution and you are collecting all transactional data.  In 2014, the collection of data should definitely not be your challenge.  The challenge more often is drawing meaningful insights from the data to inform smart changes in the way you do business.

I’ll give you an example of how putting a bit of resources into data analysis can pay off. A client of ours had labored under the assumption that the older-aged sales associates in their channel were their greatest front line sales asset.  They even had extensive historical data showing that the older SA’s sold the highest volume of transactions and accounted for the highest volume of gross sales. It seemed straightforward and the data validated this long-held assumption.  Closer examination of a vast dataset pulled from our system revealed that although these two assumptions were in fact true, the greatest margin and greatest profit was coming from the younger SA’s.  The difference? The product mix. The younger SA’s were very comfortable bundling together products that were a bit more leading edge technology-wise because they understood and had an interest in how the technology added value. The older SA’s, on the other hand, almost never sold these same higher-tech bundles.  The client immediately put together some great training on how to sell the higher tech products and, thanks again to the data, knew exactly who to target the training too. Turns out you can teach old dogs new tricks as the analysis and action started to pay off immediately. 

ACTION:  Marketing people sometimes don’t like numbers – that’s fine. Find an analyst, even a third party and start looking at the data you have collected from your incentive programs.  What can be learned?  What can you change in the next quarter that will be the new standard for how your company successfully meets its objectives? 

2.  Coordination across marketing channels (mobile, social, display, etc.)

Time for an exercise in architecture – you are the architect of your brand’s message.  You are commissioned with crafting an elegant, functional and remarkable way of communicating that message using a variety of materials, in this case various marketing channels. The challenge is to use these new tools in the ways that they are each designed to be used, but all the while working toward building up your message.

Remember the anecdote about some of the oddball ads created when television first came out?  Brands who were not yet used to the new medium would film spots featuring their radio ad announcers reading the script into the camera for the TV audience.  They had not yet adapted their message to provide it in a way that was native to the new medium. That brings us to now.

Your work in channel marketing is to build engagement with your channels and stay top of mind with the people who are buying and selling your products. And really, your core message to them is not going to be changing very much or very often.  How then to keep up this engagement?  By telling your story in clever new ways and using a variety of channels, you have the opportunity to build and maintain engagement with your partners in the ways that they find most engaging. Remember though: the message doesn’t change, but the tools do. You want to use each tool to do the job it was built for.

ACTION: When you and your team have decided which marketing channels you are going to use, take the time to review examples of the best work being done using each medium. If the channels are Internet applications, read current articles and watch video interviews with the founder of the application where they excitedly share their vision of the great ways their tool can be deployed. Then get busy retelling your message in a way that is native to that channel.

Part two is now online.   Read it HERE.

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Jason King 360incentivesJason is the Content and Community guy at 360Incentives.com Connect with Jason on Twitter @JayKing71LinkedIn or Google+  360 is changing the world of incentives.  To find out how, book a call with us now!