It’s easy to think of Marketing as just the creative side of the discipline, as in the ads you see or the jingles you hear. Most people think of a brand’s identity and imagery, maybe its ad campaigns, or even its pricing model. These parts of Marketing exist separate from what’s “below the line” and what we may perceive to be internal business decisions including how we source, our logistics, and our retail model.
Channel Marketing is all about taking a step back from that perception and rethinking what the word Marketing really means, ultimately leading us to a holistic approach to strategic marketing. We need to take a bird’s eye view of the entire value chain, from production all the way to the end consumer. From this view, we can see that there are various decisions along the value chain that have trickle-down effects on our end consumers.
Evaluating Channel Marketing through the Value Chain
We can divide the value chain from manufacturer to consumer into three stages or groups: Sourcing, Logistics, and Final Transaction.
The strategic choices we make within each of these three stages can have different impacts on our target consumers including how they perceive our brand, how they perceive our product, and how likely they are to continue purchasing our product or service.
Let’s use the restaurant industry to illustrate the impacts these decisions can have not just on our business but our customers.
In many ways, it’s natural to focus attention and effort on the end product that we offer; how it looks, its benefits, etc. Just as important, though, are the components that make up the product. Restaurants must pay careful attention to the quality of their ingredients, such as choosing USDA Prime cuts of beef over USDA Choice, because of how it affects the final dish. Today’s restaurant industry also has to factor in consumers’ desire not just for quality ingredients, but locally, ethically sourced ingredients, another variable that restaurants must consider in order to keep customers happy.
Restaurants, much like most businesses, need to place heavy consideration into the logistics along their value chain. Once they’ve sourced their ingredients, how do they ensure that these ingredients arrive at their kitchens at peak freshness? How do they ensure their kitchens are run efficiently to deliver food to customers in a timely fashion?
This segment includes everything that goes into finalizing the end transaction, from the exchange of the product to the exchange of money. Restaurants need to ensure it’s easy for their customers to get their food and pay for it. This includes taking measures like adopting Square payment systems or, now in the age of COVID-19, developing an effective delivery option, either in-house or with a partner.
Eliminating Friction with Channel Marketing
Ultimately, the goals of these decisions are to reduce friction along the value chain, optimize each marketing channel, and deliver peak value to the customer.