Marketing in an increasingly multichannel environment is a complicated task.

Identifying where your customers are at all times, managing spend and strategy, handling device proliferation, marketing across borders… these are all essential factors in the modern landscape, but most important of all is rethinking previous assumptions and developing an entitrely customer-focused business.

Last week I talked to Allyson Stewart-Allen, founder and chief executive of International Marketing Partners about how to succeed in a multichannel environment.

To hear more on the subject, Allyson will be speaking at the Festival of Marketing in November on the Multichannel stage.

Can you tell me about your role at International Marketing Partners and what are the goals of your organisation?

So I am the Founder and CEO, having set up the business in 1991 to help businesses grow internationally without making costly mistakes.  

Usually our clients need to localise the what and how they do business in various parts of the world, so aligning their approaches to the local cultures and markets is what we do most. 

What do see as the main obstacles in achieving multichannel success for companies today?

The biggest obstacles are more cultural than structural. Very often teams across the silos have a hard time integrating, their agendas conflict, there are politics that get in the way. 

Think of how hard it is for many organisations to get their sales and marketing teams to regularly synchronise their strategies and plans, much less budgets! Until that integration is in place, there is a high probability that the customer/client of the business will not have consistency across all routes to market.

How does a brand best ensure consistency when adopting multiple channels?

The brand needs a clear view of who it’s trying to reach with what kind of value proposition. Those value propositions need to be tailored for each channel or made consistent across all of them.  

For example, it might be that the online consumer for a given brand prefers a lower price point range than those who buy in the bricks-and-mortar stores, therefore putting more of the ranges online that appeal to those price-conscious consumers would be the thing to do.  

Researching customer perceptions of the same goods sold in each channel will also give some insights into the influence of that channel on the brand, positive and negative. 

How do you view the impact of digital on traditional offline marketing channels (television, events, print ads), are you optimistic that they can work in harmony with each other?

Digital is ideally a channel in its own right rather than seen solely as a comms vehicle, so it should have synergistic effects supporting offline initiatives and vice-versa.  

The only time they’re not in harmony is if the same merchandise offline is sold totally differently than online in terms of price, promise, guarantees, etc.

Are there vast differences between territories when it comes to building a brand? What should a brand be mindful of when attempting to grow internationally?

The key thing is getting a deep understanding of the culture, the values, the mind-set of that overseas market. Once you understand this, then everything else falls into place.  

For example, British understatement doesn’t work in the US as we expect confidence, bullishness, extroversion and noise in the market.

Can you offer any advice for a UK brand wishing to break into the USA?

Given I’ve written a book on the subject (Working with Americans), I’d suggest at least these tips: transact first, relate second. Close the sale rather than assume your target customer/client knows what you want. Be proactive and persistent. Avoid British slang (“teaching grandmother to suck eggs”) which may not be understood there.

In terms of your clients, which digital trends seem to be top of the agenda right now?

Analytics/big data is THE thing. Using the digital footprint left by shoppers to try to predict what they’ll do next is the holy grail.

Which brands do you most admire and why?

Well, it’s got to be the luxury brand Hermes. Everything they do is consistently about horses. leather, elegance, orange. It’s design aesthetic is stylish and subtle. Not to mention how amazing their fragrance ranges are with these consistent threads that weave through them all… and, they’ve managed to stay an independent business despite LVMH’s advances. Strategically, they’ve not diluted their brand and have had the creative freedom to expand into adjacent categories (homeware, corporate and private jet interiors amongst them).

You can learn even more about multichannel at our two day Festival of Marketing event in November. Book your ticket today and see how you can optimise your touchpoint, platforms and customer connectivity.

Christopher Ratcliff

Published 28 September, 2015 by Christopher Ratcliff

Christopher Ratcliff is the editor of Methods Unsound. He was the Deputy Editor of Econsultancy. You can follow him on Twitter or connect via Google+ and LinkedIn

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