Part 1 of 2: So, what’s the issue and why is it important?

Part 2 of 2: OK, how do I do it right?



“Channel strategy” and “omnichannel marketing” are hot topics in the digital age of marketing. Brands of all sizes and kinds rely on them. But, as a seasoned marketing expert, I’m noticing many are leaving out a very important step is in strategy development: developing your promotional approach.

Remember the 4 Ps? Yes, I’m going there. PRODUCT, PRICE, PLACE AND PROMOTION. They are still vitally important to an effective marketing strategy, but many are confusing channel planning with promotion. What do I mean by that? Let’s jump in.

A big problem in the marketing industry is confusion from the misuse of terms. Let’s call it language freedom derived from creative licensing.  (It may be funny, but you know it’s true!) Your channel strategy falls in the fourth P: PROMOTION. Within PROMOTION you have advertising, public relations, direct marketing, and sales. In this spammed-up, noisy digital environment where there are as many marketing message distribution points as there are hairs on our heads, some are making a fundamental mistake: adding their own promotional categories into this list.

Case in point: A premium dog food brand strategy includes “email marketing” and “social media marketing” as promotional categories. Each has its own problem. Email marketing is just a form of direct marketing, not its own category. Social media marketing is a term to refer to marketing on a collection of various social media platforms. On those platforms, you may advertise, get some PR coverage, do direct marketing or even engage in sales activities with prospects.

You may think this is all just semantics, but here’s the reality: Taking the wrong approach to channel planning in this digital age is erasing an important step in developing your marketing strategy—that all-important promotional approach, or as I like to call it, the promotional MO. In the original textbooks (yes, I went there too) about the marketing mix, advertising, PR, direct marketing, and sales were often referred to as channels. But, in today’s world, savvy marketers use the term channel as the actual message delivery vehicle like magazine, radio, television, websites, podcasts, social media platforms, email, etc.

Why is it important that I did a marketing terminology 101 primer? Because these are the foundational elements of your strategy.  Line any important planning in every area of life, if you leave out a foundational part of the process and the rest of the plan will suffer.  And, many marketing plans are suffering while marketing executives struggle to perform at the highest levels, particularly within the digital landscape.

Spend some time reviewing your current plan, its development process, and thinking about areas of weakness in your current marketing, then move on to the next part of our conversation.