Call it multi-channel marketing. Call it an integrated marketing strategy. Whatever name you apply to it, brands and companies are still struggling to give consumers what they want… a consistent and seamless message across all marketing channels.

A study conducted by Gartner, a leading information technology research and advisory company, revealed that companies, at least in the US, need to step up their game when it comes to multi-channel marketing.

Mim Burt, research director at Gartner…

“Executing on cross-channel consistency will prove challenging, as retailers continue to grapple with siloed business process and a plethora of disparate applications. Most challenging are the product-centric organizational structures that are no longer suitable for today’s customer-centric approach, which should take full account of customers shopping across current and emerging touchpoints.”

Before I get to more from the study, I want you to pay close to attention to one word that Ms. Burt used and see if you can spot that same word in the comments form Mark Fodor, the CEO of multi-channel commerce solution provider CrossView who’s own study revealed similar results:

“The opportunity for merchants to become more cross-channel is there, but they need to learn how to communicate with their customers across channels and not fall into silos.”

While not used in the same tense, the word is “silo.” Both Ms. Burt and Mr. Fodor make reference to the fact that silos are a very dangerous thing for businesses. For it is these same silos that prevent departments within a given organization from engaging with one another. Think about it, how many B2B or B2C folks or brand managers or product managers and on down the line are hamstrung by “silo-ed” departments, with one department not knowing what the other is doing yet each trying to increase sales and engage with the same customer?

I shared Mr. Fodor’s comments and findings from an aptly titled post Marketers Still Not Integrating Their Marketing Strategy. That was one post of many I’ve written on creating an integrated marketing strategy and the need to do so, especially when you consider it is precisely what consumers want.

From another aptly titled post, Shoppers Want Integration, Retailers And Marketers Not Delivering It which highlighted the 4th annual Consumer Insights Survey from mBuys:

Integration (consistency) – What Consumers Want

  • 85% want an integrated shopping experience
  • 72% want an integrated marketing approach

Integration (consistency) – What Consumers Currently Get

  • 50% get an integrated shopping experience
  • 39% get an integrated marketing approach

Those in marketing retail and retailers alike, the people are speaking loud and clear. They want to see and experience the same thing be it on your site, your store, your mobile site and they want to see and experience the same message across all marketing collateral – AKA they want a branded experience across ALL channels!

The Struggle Rages On…

The Gartner study is just the latest to show the disconnect; the problem so many brand managers and retailers and digital marketers are having in creating a true integrated marketing approach, especially in the retail world. And the root cause is the dreaded “s” word… Silo. “Channels have grown as largely separate entities, and business metrics in retail remain overwhelmingly product and channel-focused. Retailers need to change internal organizational alignments to execute a consistent cross-channel shopping experience.”

This line from the findings really should drive home the point to all brand managers and product managers, regardless of industry: “Requirements of shoppers across channels and the customer shopping process should be their guiding principles, rather than focusing on the ROI of multichannel initiatives.”

As the survey from mBuys (and surely there are others) clearly demonstrates, the requirements of shoppers, consumers comes in the form of integration… as in they want an integrated message across all mediums. They want to be engaged across all channels with the same message.

So go forth and engage across all mediums with the same, seamless message… you’ll be glad you did.

What are your thoughts on all this?

Are you a brand manager or product manager that wants to create an integrated marketing strategy but are tied down due to the silos mentioned above?

What are some ways to break down those walls, to eliminate those silos?

Sources: Gartner, Google Images

Steve Olenski is a freelance writer/blogger currently looking for full-time work. He has over 20 years experience in advertising and marketing. He lives in Philly and can be reached via emailTwitter LinkedIn or his website.