Reach Out, Connect, Engage

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Omni-channel and multi-channel are in-vogue phrases and concepts. They reflect the presence and need for parallel and compatible avenues to reach out, connect with and to engage existing and prospective clients and customers.

TWO-SECOND ATTENTION GRABBING
 
Consumers and corporate executives are increasingly scanning media sources, with little inclination to undertake detailed study and comprehension of the wealth of available information.
 
Therefore, the challenge for all communicators is to grab and arrest the attention of targeted audiences within a 2-second time span. That equates to a maximum of four words.
 
In short, think and develop skills in creating and enunciating headlines. The trends evident in the transition of newspapers from broadsheets to tabloids should be applied by all businesses. Single-word headlines can be effective in projecting statements and challenges, while also injecting emotions in many topics.
 
Short, pithy newspaper, catalogue and outdoor advertising headlines are effective means to generate increased contact with on-line channels, which provide detailed and comprehensive information and intelligence to progress and expedite the purchasing process.
 
TALK IS CHEAP

Much is made of the personal and intimate nature of on-line and social media interactions.
 
It is a characteristic and skill found wanting in many communication strategies. Engaging people, customers and clients on-line involves personal, individual and real-time interactivity.
 
There is nothing more customer-centric than having the individual believe that he or she is the centre of their own unique universe.
 
Interestingly, the aspects of personal contact and intimacy are elevated when cross-channelling strategies lead to verbal communication. The spoken word has the added attribute of nuances and emotions which are readily registered and valued by consumers and prospective customers.
 
Talk is cheap, but wages are high... an understandable and predictable sentiment. However, when measures are applied to sales conversion, effectiveness, efficiency and productivity, talking directly and personally to a customer is value.
 
BE ACTIVE, NOT PASSIVE

Out-bound, unsolicited telephone calls are widely tainted with negative stigma. Inertia-selling techniques elicit defensive and negative stereotypical images.
 
Recent marketing study findings reveal that some 98% of company-initiated telemarketing calls are rejected or declined in the first instance.
 
The single biggest reason for the lack of success of such calls is “the time is not, or was not right”. Numerically, it is double the percentage assigned to having no interest in or demand for the product or service on offer.
 
Significantly, 83% of survey respondents stated that no attempt had been made by telemarketers to schedule a follow-up call. Alas, opportunities lost.
 
A distinctively different set of responses arises when consumers who initiate contact on-line are invited to receive an immediate return telephone call by landline or mobile. This is particularly the case when considerable emotion, subjectivity or information analysis are involved in the purchase decision.
 
Buying commoditised, price-sensitive products and services involves a very different set of dynamics. In such circumstances on-line communication alone will often suffice.
 
VERTICAL CHANNELS TOO

Omni-channel and multi-channelling is not limited to lateral relationships. It should also involve vertical channelling. An example is the relationship between the interest and demand which is stimulated and generated by mass-media placements and the closing of the buying process by disciplined, well-informed and appropriate selling by point-of-purchase service providers.
 
Huge percentages and dollar values are forsaken and lost because front-line staff members are not aware of the conduct or the specifics of marketing, advertising, promotional and merchandising campaigns. Compounding the issue is that management does not involve staff members in the campaign launches and schedules, with particular attention to formulating, documenting and implementing particular sales strategies, to optimise sales and profits.
 
TEMPTING TECHNOLOGIES

The introduction and application of divergent technology in the interactions with customers foster disconnection and a lack of engagement between consumers and service providers who are the essential brand ambassadors and image builders of companies, products and services.
 
It is now possible for consumers to visit supermarkets, walk the countless aisles, make product selections, pay for the purchases and leave the premises having had no interaction with supermarket employees.
 
Fading brand loyalty will become an increasingly conspicuous phenomenon in the near term.
 
CONCLUDING COMMENTS:
Omni-channel and multi-channel is now a non-negotiable reality. The concepts applied must be vertical and horizontal for the full potential to be realised.
 
THE AUTHOR

Barry Urquhart, Managing Director of Marketing Focus, is Australia’s foremost consultant, researcher, author and conference keynote speaker on customer service excellence. He is an experienced and qualified business strategist with specific skills in the deployment and application of social media.
 
Website:       www.marketingfocus.net.au


About

Barry Urquhart, MD Marketing Focus, Perth, is the author of Australia's top two selling books on customer service and is an internationally recognised authority on consumer behaviour and creative visual marketing.

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