Saturday, February 10, 2007

Going Horizontal - Marketing's New Solution For The Vertically Challenged

Embracing A Panoramic View Of The New Marketing Landscape

Tom Friedman, in his best-selling book, "The World Is Flat", describes "flat" as being "connected", i.e. the lowering of trade and political barriers and the exponential technical advances of the digital revolution that have made it possible to do business, or almost anything else, instantaneously with billions of other people across the planet.

For marketers, however, the world has become "horizontal" which also means "connected", but connected in a different perspective. Over time, marketing has become a host of vertical specialties - television, radio, print, direct mail, outdoor, point-of-sale, promotion, sponsorship and, most recently, online and mobile. This expansion of the marketing mix has led to the well-accepted practice of integrated marketing, referring to the need to coordinate these marketing "ingredients" into a compelling "formula" to acquire and retain customers. Integrating verticals, however, is not the answer.

As a matter of fact, it has created a vertically challenged corporate structure. The answer is going horizontal, i.e. marketers having panoramic perspective of the business landscape. Why? Because this is how media is consumed by audiences today. Consumers don't look at their personal media consumption as integrated. They watch, read, listen, and interact across a spectrum of media during any given day based on their own personal consumption whims. It is time, therefore, for marketers to think, plan, and execute in the same fashion - panoramically, or better said, horizontally.

To do this, determine how consumers wish to interact with your brand. They dictate the when, where, what, how, and why of the relationship. Take banking, for example. Consumers may wish to speak with a real person over the phone; or access a web site; or visit a branch location; or send an email, snail mail, or fax; or access via a mobile device (mobile internet, text message) etc. The consumer expects to be able to choose the medium of interaction based on his or her convenience. The bank, therefore, must think "horizontally" or risk losing business to a less "horizontally-challenged" competitor.

The horizontal approach enables historically vertical marketing organizations to be flatter putting fewer layers between the consumer and the brand - improving performance.