Tuesday, 24 March 2015

Is 'Omni-Channel' the correct term? I don't think so!

The term Omni-Channel Marketing has continued to gather momentum, having first been coined 3 or 4 years ago in response to the continued evolution of Multi-Channel Marketing to envelope an ever-increasing number of digital-savvy consumers, using an ever-increasing diversification of devices, to access an ever-growing online marketplace.

When I first heard the term ‘Omni-Channel’, it jarred somewhat – it didn’t feel right. Every time I heard someone cite it in a keynote or interview, it made my lip curl, but having not invested the brain cells to consider why it invoked this intrinsic reaction, I filed it away for later.

I recently had the luxury of a few hours thinking time, having been delayed at the crushingly boring Newark airport for several hours, and I realised that the issue is a simple one; its the incorrect term for the product – it’s NOT ‘Omni-Channel’ – its Multi-Channel Marketing delivering an ‘Omni-Experience’.

Marketing is no longer solely a push activity, and hasn’t been for several years; advocates of the Omni-Channel term explain it as putting the consumer in the middle and delivering a seamless brand experience (which is strategically correct) but, with regards to the terminology, putting the consumer in the middle surely means that the marketing delivery needs to be termed in line with the receiving experience, not the channel approach?

The emergence of the term Omni-Channel only serves to prove that those using it still fail to grasp the central position of power of the consumers behaviour in this increasingly digitally enabled world.

Consumers engage with your brand in different ways according to the way they choose – because the channel they select will be the most relevant to that particular  engagement – they won’t turn on their desktop to give you a call, any more than they’ll use their mobile data allowance to spend an hour window shopping on your site when they have their office desktop and a lunchtime to hand.

Omni-Channel as a noun is therefore missing the mark – it fails to grasp the fact that the tactical provision for each individual channel should actually be different; not consolidated, whilst sitting within an overarching brand marketing strategy that delivers seamless relevance (and a great Omni-Experience) to the consumer.

You need to study the user to establish the way they use different channels, and importantly, devices, according to their context and desire.

No mean feat, with more scenarios than you can shake an Omni-stick at.

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