I’ve had some very interesting conversations with both existing XMPie customers and prospects over the past few weeks and a question has been playing on my mind, “What’s harder, selling Cross Media Campaigns or implementation them?”

Some have spoken about the fact that actually delivering a cross media campaign is the hardest element; whilst others have struggled in actually selling it to to their customers. The vast majority of commercial printers that now have the capability to deliver these types of highly relevant and interactive cross media campaigns; seem to struggle with actually selling the concept into their customers. Some are happy to continually take large quantities of print volume with the relatively small profit margins that they deliver – whilst ignoring the vast amount of additional opportunity that exists in these accounts. Other commercial printers seem to struggle to engage the right people, bring them to the table and move the conversation from ‘product’ to ‘value’. In today’s marketplace it is all about selling the value, linking all the elements together. In comparison talking to some marketing agencies they struggle with actually delivering the concept in a timely and ‘joined up’ fashion.

So here’s my top 5 observations:

  • You need to engage the right people – cross media campaigns do not sit with the print-buyer. Engaging at a senior marketing or brand level is critical. It’s a high level sell, that potentially involves multiple budgets and multiple people. You need to identify these people and get them all around a table and get the buy-in to move forward.
  • You need to sell value, not product – a cross media campaign should not be a product sell in the same way print can be. Integrated cross media campaigns tend to be non-linear campaigns that involve different forms of communication, at different times sent on-demand or autonomously. They are not one-time pieces, but a conversation that develops around a contact or a customer. Not understanding this and talking about £/per thousand for print, emails, RURLs is not the answer and a dangerous strategy. The answer is in the value of the campaign itself, not in the individual elements that make it up.
  • Understand the value of analysis – today’s cross media tools, such as XMPie contain very powerful tools for tracking and analysing a campaign in real-time. It’s surprising how many people do not understand the value of this single element! The ability to track in real-time, all communication and interaction is huge. Add in the ability that you can give the end-customer access to this information in real-time is even larger! What would be the additional value in being able to provide real-time and interactive analytic information back to a customer? £1,000, £5,000 or even £10,000 on top of a campaign set-up costs? That’s pure profit for a huge value-added ability.
  • Get the right people internally – putting together a project team internally to actually deliver these campaigns is again critical, and I have seen customers fall onto their knees because they have not done this. As a service provider you need to make sure that you have both the technical skills to deliver the project as well as the managerial  skills to ensure that the project is delivered on time, within budget and successfully. There is also a huge need to have the the right creative skills. I cannot stress enough that the best cross media campaigns that I have seen delivered were because of the both the creative ideas and the creative implementation. It’s not all about the raw data. It’s absolutely about the right ideas, the right implementation and the right delivery.
  • You need to communicate at every stage – in the same way that a successful cross media campaign engages and works because of the conversation, it’s imperative that everyone involved in a campaign needs to communicate and converse themselves. Allowing everyone to take part in the design and implementation of a campaign is critical – from developers to designers to the marketing teams. By not allowing this to happen you run the risk of missing something, or at worst delivering something that just does not work. If you work with external agencies or designers, then allow them to come in and work hand-in-hand with the rest of the team. I still find it amazing how many designers are not aware of simply what can be done now-a-days.

Quite simply, the rules of engagement have changed. Many marketeers are still stuck in the perception that online marketing is better than offline marketing, that it is all about mass email marketing and social media. Many commercial printers are stuck in trying to engage the wrong people about cross media campaigns, selling on product not value. By having the right tools, the right people and the right processes a huge amount of value can be delivered in a very short period of time. Highly targeted, cross media campaigns with email, print, RURLs and SMS can be designed, implemented and delivered in extraordinarily fast times (4 days in some cases) delivering huge value and potentially huge profits.

For the commercial service providers ask yourself the following questions: “Do I have the right people, technology and process to deliver this?” and “Are my sales people engaging the right customers, and are they asking the right questions?”

For the agencies and client focused individuals ask yourself, “From my top 5 customers/prospects, do I understand their objectives well enough, and can I engage them with 3 achievable ideas that will deliver them additional value, with 1 very strong value statement?”

If the answer to any of these questions is “no” then you are behind others in your field, and missing out on potential opportunity and profit.

In my mind, it is not a question of the technology any more. If you can think of the concept then the chances are that it can be delivered. The only thing stopping you is coming up with the ideas, selling the value of them to your customers and making it happen.

Thanks to several people for their input to this; @pvantees@ScottDubois@tseha@jeantinb@FernandoSteler.

Do you agree? Have you overcome some of these issues? I am always interested in your comments.
[message type=”info”]Full disclosure: At the time of writing this article the author was employed by XMPie, a Xerox Company. [/message]