By Andreas Weber | Click to access german version
The topic of “multichannel” appears to be extremely complex. For many, it is also complicated. Whatever, by the end of this year at the latest, there will be no way around it – you will have to come to terms with it. And here are three reasons why:
- Unsolved problem: “How do I effectively and permanently reach my customers and others who are interested?”
- Shift to customer orientation: “It is no longer ‘it’s the brand that counts’, but the market that counts.”
- The new trendsetters IoT & Industry 4.0: “In an interlinked and automated digital world, dialogue is the deciding factor!”
“Nothing stays the same!” said Christian Kopocz, entrepreneur and Executive Director of the international XMPie User Group. “The change driven by technology and consumers increasingly forces information and personal exchange across many other channels — in addition to print, web and e-mail, video content, social media and mobile services have all become relevant. Individual solutions are in demand.”
If you look and listen carefully, the turning away from decades of successful mass communications may not be taking place abruptly, but it is unstoppable and irreversible. Publishing houses are experiencing that, just as are TV stations. And, of course, the printing industry, particularly the sector of commercial printing. Digitalisation is changing everything — every type of business including marketing and communications processes. The Internet of Things (IoT) and Industry 4.0 are fast-forwarding automation on all possible levels.
It is worth listening to the experts who have been involved with the development of suitable solutions. “The digital age is the age of the customer. Why? The audience you serve is always interconnected and online,” explained Dr. Jacob Aizikowitz, President of XMPie. He went on to add, “You need to become part of the resulting continual conversation and interlinking. Old-school marketing methods no longer fit in this new scenario. Achieving wide reach and attention through mass media is no longer as successful as it was in the past. Brands are setting the example of how to be involved in a relationship with your customers and others who are interested, and for carrying out an on-going sustained dialogue.”
Everything is changing: Multichannel newly defined!
Up to now, there has been a confusion of terms: Cross-media is the same as multichannel which is the same as omnichannel. What is mostly advocated is that the aim of content marketing is to make content public on as many channels as possible, all at the same time. But that is not at all what it is about, since this scares off the receiver. Jacob Aizikowitz is clear about just what it is that makes multichannel: “It is all down to making it possible for personal, relevant and interactive communication to take place in a creative way, offering touch points at the right time in a mix of digital and print media.”
Smart service providers are already exploiting this way of thinking, by having successfully transformed their traditional business models. Printers have become media production service providers who, through multichannel services, have evolved into marketing service providers. The side effect: From the skilful interplay with digital printing, diverse opportunities for success arise that first, go beyond booming online printing and second, open up new areas of business and profitable growth.
Renato Vögeli of Vögeli AG in Switzerland explained this as follows: “We understand multichannel communications to be the individual addressing of the target group across various channels in order to reach the individual wherever he or she may be. With that, we can take the target group along on a journey in a mix of online and offline that offers various points of contact.”
His German colleague Patrick Donner, TraffiC Online Print Solutions GmbH, added, “We at TraffiC define multichannel communications quite specifically and very pragmatically: bringing communications from different media together with focus on print, e-mail, web and social media. The aim is to bring about emotional experiences that effectively deliver a haptic sensation via print as well as the speed and round-the-clock availability of digital communication.” For Patrick Donner, individuality in the interlinking of print and online is the key to attracting the interest of the communications partner. “To our way of thinking, multichannel communication creates effective personal experiences as opposed to the ‘one-for-all actions’ that are otherwise customary.”
Christian Kopocz rounds out the reassessment of multichannel communications by summing up what it is really all about: “The customer decides how, when and where he would like to be addressed. For me, multichannel is the communication of relevant content to the preferred channels of the customer!” Both today and tomorrow, service providers are and will be constantly required to think ahead and become pro-active. “I see that as a real mammoth task since up to now, even with multichannel innovations, everything was undertaken in a very linear manner: Investment was made in a new business model that was brought to market and then practically, like a loan repayment, was worked off monthly. Less thought was given to continuous, 100% customer-oriented, sustained development and none at all to it as an investment in the future.” According to Kopocz, the result was often in the form of bad figures. It doesn’t have to be that way at all: “Stay curious and don’t let the contact with your customer flag – that will always take you to your goal!”
Note: drupa 2016 will show the latest multichannel solutions and applications. That makes it worth paying a visit to Dusseldorf!