Last month, I shared data and observations on the significance and opportunities for marketers and the types of new multi-channel buyer behavior. In that post, I described:

  • Buyers’ increasing expectations for relevant, consistent multi-channel experiences
  • The opportunity and urgency for marketers and brands to deliver these at scale
  • Five inhibitors preventing many marketing organizations from doing so

Given these factors, there is urgency for brands to create these personalized, multi-channel experiences better, faster and at greater scale than their competitors—or risk losing market share. In the face of this challenge, many approaches prescribed for marketers are either very complex, expensive and long-term; or, conversely, too modest to position their brands for action now.

This inspired me to look for practical, achievable and near-term approaches to repositioning marketing teams and brands; which I explore below through examples we’ve seen in our own clients.

Shorten Your Time-to-Agile

The approaches below show promise in overcoming the inhibitors to real multi-channel marketing.

They inspire collaboration and coordination across the marketing ecosystem; and they promote effectiveness by extending digital and brand skills, tools and guidelines throughout.

Interestingly, these approaches are enabled by software, and tend to focus less on changing the marketing organization than on how it works. Indeed, they change workflows immediately, and let the organization adapt in its own time—and not the other way around.

Five Emerging Approaches: Scalable Processes and Tools to Align, Streamline, and Coodinate Your Team’s Activities

1. Orchestrate multi-channel campaigns for specific audiences, using a centralized, interactive planner.

Leading brands are starting to transform their traditional calendars into interactive planners, powered by SaaS-based collaborative technology. They’re using these to see, plan, share, and coordinate activity and campaigns across their product, channel and regional marketing teams.

Examples: Marketing leaders at a leading B2B technology manufacturer are using an interactive planner to see, monitor, and share campaigns—and related instructions and assets—between and among regional teams, with just a few clicks. The increased visibility and collaboration they’re realizing is helping to improve brand governance and consistency across their markets, with promising results. (Here’s an example from GE, using Percolate’s planner.)

2. Extend digital and brand expertise throughout the marketing ecosystem

Similarly, software and other scalable processes are allowing marketing leaders to quickly and effectively upskill, retool, and empower their dispersed or siloed fields, channels, and product teams, enabling these to engage with specific audiences at key moments.

Examples: A leading paint and specialty chemical brand embedded an understanding of audiences and themes throughout the marketing organization to inform and empower regional teams to act, with compelling results.

Likewise, a global electronics brand is using SaaS tools to extend new brand logos, fonts and even desired crops and filters for each channel to its entire marketing ecosystem for immediate use, while a global beverages brand educates and prompts field, agency, and downstream marketers in use of appropriate tone, content and images/logos. Using simple questions and checkboxes, the beverages brand manager ensures content is increasingly on target, on-message and on-brand, thereby speeding approvals publication, efficiency and effectiveness.

3. Manage for relevancy, consistency, and governance during campaign planning and creation

By hardwiring governance procedures into the early stages of campaign planning and creative development, marketing leaders can ensure the content and campaigns their teams produce are increasingly relevant, consistent, and effective—even as they scale.

Much of this can be accomplished by novel, technology-enabled use of a traditional marketing planning document: the brief.

Example: a US-based, B2C retailer is transforming its traditional, static briefs into interactive, informative guardrails which guide and accelerate multi-channel creative activity for a new back-to-school campaign.

4. Use intent analytics to discover and align to multi-channel buyer journeys

A few pioneering brands are tagging campaigns, posts and even specific images and assets with ‘intent’ and ‘persona’ metadata during planning and creative stages. Tracking these assets throughout the entire marketing cycle from concept, to creative, to qualified lead yields rich insights with which to optimizing messaging and channel communications for specific audiences at key points on their buyer journeys.

Examples: A Fortune 50 B2B conglomerate, and a fast-growing B2C sports retailer both are taking this approach. They’re tagging assets, content and campaigns to track effectiveness by audience and lifecycle stage, to enable insights later as to the optimal content, channels and timing/sequence for each audience and lifecycle.

These brands are starting to gain insights into key segments’ preferred journey–and the specific messaging, content and channels they prefer to access at each stage.

5. Streamline fragmented tech stacks to improve cross-channel planning, efficiency & insight

Many marketing leaders are starting to look more critically at the complex ”Frankenstacks” many have accumulated over the last few years. Seeing themselves as “chief simplification officers,” they’re working to better integrate and share data between existing tools, “bust silos…[and transmit] messages and insights across business units, geographies, and functional groups” in ways described above.

Examples: Confirming this trend, a few of my colleagues recently were invited to help marketing leadership at a major technology manufacturer rethink its technology stack and, specifically, how a single organizational layer functioning as a System of Record for Marketing, could connect, integrate and align their people, processes and technology around their audiences.

MasterCard has created an organizational layer of this type—to gain visibility, manage and share assets, briefs, content and campaigns within and between marketing teams and partners, so as to improve the ecosystem’s efficiency and effectiveness. MasterCard’s early experiences in accelerating the publication of new content suggest ways forward for “chief simplification officers’.

Ultimately, these emerging practices light the way for marketing organizations to position themselves to produce more relevant, consistent and compelling multi-channel experiences at scale.

Software-powered processes and tools are being used now by leading marketing organizations to share necessary expertise and discipline throughout the organization, and to discover and align activities around their audiences’ multi-channel journeys.

I look forward to updating these suggestions and case examples as these approaches mature, and look forward to hearing others as well. Please reach out on LinkedIn and Twitter.