Remake Legacy Marketing for a Multichannel World

Jesse Blount, VP-Client Strategy, Quad/Graphics
Key Takeaways

What? Marketers are falling short in responding to the massive disruption created by digital technology and channel proliferation.

So what? Marketers must provide a seamless interaction across all touch points to influence the consumer decision journey. 

Now what? Visit Better Ways to learn how to manufacture content, understand data and reach audiences for multichannel success.

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​Every brand has a story it wants to tell consumers. That’s the job of the marketing department. But keeping on top of that assignment today is tough. The number of channels for telling a brand’s story have multiplied and marketing departments have expanded to manage the uniqueness of those channels. 

Now each channel operates with its own team of VPs, directors, managers, independent budgets, measurement criteria and, often, agencies. In theory, each channel’s conversation thread is tied to an over-arching brand strategy. But in practice, too often execution is unconnected. This clouds a comprehensive assessment of a multichannel campaign’s effectiveness. No wonder CEOs and CMOs are questioning their return on marketing investment.

On the flip-side, channel silos hurt the seamless experience consumers expect when interacting with a brand. Over and over, consumers tell researchers they want a variety of brand touchpoints. Fifteen years ago, the average consumer used two touchpoints when buying an item, and only 7 percent regularly used more than four. Today’s consumers use an average of six touchpoints when making a purchase, and nearly 50 percent use more than four. 

Legacy marketing organizations can’t keep up

Those consumers also want consistency. Marketing has to be part of the coherent, fluid end-to-end experience consumers expect. When it doesn’t happen, they are quick to shift their attention and business elsewhere. When marketers do deliver a consistent experience, studies show better customer retention and higher value customers. The Harvard Business Review points out that customers who experience marketing through multiple channels spend 4 percent more in-store and 10 percent more online.

Yet companies large and small still attempt to address this new MO with their legacy marketing organizations. The global consulting and research firm McKinsey says companies are reluctant to abandon the legacy approach to marketing because they don’t recognize the magnitude of the disruptive economic force bearing down on them. This force, powered by the digital transformation affecting so many aspects of modern life, is incompatible with traditional economic, strategic and operating models. A siloed marketing organization simply doesn’t work in today’s multiple channel world.

The need for change is clear but the prospect of dedicating time and resources to remake a legacy marketing organization keeps many companies hewing to the status quo. How can you tell if your marketing team is still stuck in silo-mode? Redundant activities/responsibilities, differing priorities and limited collaboration are all signs that a marketing team is not optimized for modern marketing. But it’s a condition you can reverse without too much pain when you begin with three building blocks. 

Building blocks for a new approach

Block 1: Re-think your workflow. Despite advances in media and technology, content creation, revisions and approvals today are typically based on a decade-old print-centric workflow.  As more media channels have joined the marketing mix, separate silos, workflows and technologies have come along—resulting in mixed messages to the customer. Tools exist to help integrate the planning, creative and production processes; but your organizational structure should be overhauled too. Think about who really needs to be involved in content creation and approvals, and reorganize your teams and process accordingly. This will shorten timelines, increase efficiency and reduce costs.

Block 2: Harness your consumer data. Marketers usually have terabytes of data available about their target customers, but sometimes too much data can be a problem on par with too little. Until it’s organized to present a coherent view of consumers, segmented according to demographics, buying habits and socio-cultural preferences, it can be hard to see where all the numbers are pointing. Digital advances and new proprietary testing technology can help. Once harnessed, this data makes many things possible, including the personalized content consumers crave, delivered by the channel they want.

Block 3: Focus on content, not channel. Of course, the story you tell consumers should be consistent, whatever the channel. Consumer expectations fed by mobile technology’s instantaneous responses are not going away. The only way to succeed is with a flattened marketing organization that can respond quickly, with engaging content that reinforces itself across all consumer touchpoints. Everything — email, direct mail, landing pages, social media, flyers, ads, in-store signage and packaging — must be pulled under the same marketing tent. 

A case study of success

While smart marketers agree on this point, too often it is more lip service than reality. One of our major retail customers came to Quad asking for help with this challenge. The CMO told us he had realized that even though they employed highly qualified individuals, the marketing department couldn’t be an expert in everything they needed to do. There were too many new content and communications technologies and too many channels. “We are in the business of providing solutions to our customers, not of marketing services,” the CMO said.

After analyzing the customer's workflow, we brought in technology and experts to streamline their processes, from creative concepting through execution. This included creating a content hub that pulled together creative assets and personnel who were scattered across five floors. It jump-started true collaboration that unified content production. As a result, we eliminated 44 steps in their ad production process, and reduced the content creation timeline by three weeks.

We also identified supply chain opportunities to save money on paper, and improved mail sorting to save on postage. 

That’s just one example of how marketers win when they can iterate quickly and deliver content tailored to their customers’ interests and needs, using multiple channels integrated into a unified campaign. Adopting a new marketing model that eliminates channel silos and pulls capabilities and execution onto a single platform makes that possible. It’s more efficient, and, most importantly, less expensive, adding to companies’ bottom lines.


To learn more about how to approach consumer data analytics, workflow, and integrating digital with conventional channels to keep pace with today’s consumer, visit Quad’s Better Ways blog​.​​

Jesse Blount, VP-Client Strategy, Quad/Graphics
After a quarter-century of retail marketing experience, Jesse has a passion for guiding clients to solutions that are right for them. His team at Quad digs deep into clients’ processes and marketing objectives and then tailors solutions to help where needed. Some of the most game-changing offerings include a combination of one-to-one personalization strategies and audience targeting, content production and integrated multi-channel campaign execution. You can follow him on <a href="" target="_blank">LinkedIn</a> and on Twitter @jesseblount