How to Cross Channels without a Bridge

Bridge to Marketing IntegrationLast week I answered a call from one of my favorite retail clients. My friendly greeting was answered with “I have a vision that keeps turning into a nightmare.” No “hello, how are you?” or “Cold enough for you” chitchat in this call. She was clearly on a mission.

I suggested that we start with the vision. Her vision was an integrated organization where everything from marketing to fulfillment worked together. Customers and prospects could move easily from one channel to another finding what they need or want along the way. Their social media efforts would ease the way for their catalog and email campaigns.

She knew the benefits; we’d been discussing them for months. She knew the urgency because I’d been nagging encouraging her to get started. She knew the risks of inaction. Her competition was already gaining market share. She wanted to start the process but there was a problem.

She had too many channels and departments operating as silos.

Every time they started planning the integration, the details overwhelmed them. They left the meetings with more questions than answers:

How do we make our legacy systems work with new marketing tools?

Who is in charge?

Who should be involved?

How deep should the integration go?

How do we divide responsibilities?

What happens when…?

What’s a reasonable timeline?

How do we measure success?

Where do we start?

The last question is easy to answer. You start where you are and build from there. The rest will be answered as you go.

Channel integration is a process.

The first step is to identify your two strongest silo channels. They are the ones that need to be integrated first. (Remember the 80/20 rule?) Document the areas where lack of integration is a known problem. Create benchmarks before you start resolving issues.

Improvements in one area always highlight challenges in another. This is an opportunity. Treat it as such. It is easy to get overwhelmed by the continuous flow of new challenges. If you begin with benchmarks, and update them regularly, you’ll see progress (and new opportunities.)

Break your large, overwhelming tasks into bite size mini-projects that can be completed in 1 – 5 days. Your goal is to move forward one step at a time.

Recognize that sometimes you have to backtrack or detour to move forward.

If you take it slow and steady, missteps carry little risk. Avoid the temptation to look for the latest and greatest turnkey solution. It costs a lot of money and time while rarely delivering significant results.

Don’t forget the other channels while you’re integrating your best ones. Start capturing social media user id’s now. It’ll make integration and measurement easier down the road.

Get started today for a better tomorrow. Holiday 2010 is just around the corner.

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