Future of marketing is cross-media or bust

Cross-media communication is more than just hype – it is the future of the graphic communications industry. The formerly manageable world of marketing that primarily used print and mass media has exploded into countless choices related to cross-media communications. Familiar media types have been augmented with the rapid rise of mobile, social, online, and interactive media. All of these new channels create demand for more media integration and new marketing approaches, and that means greater operational complexity for graphic communications service providers that want to participate in these new business areas. More importantly, it also creates a tremendous opportunity for those willing to step up to the challenge.

As a definition, ‘cross-media communication’ is the all-encompassing term for broadcasting one marketing campaign across a spectrum of media formats. It literally means to cross media by taking one campaign and distributing it to a multitude of channels. It refers to the integrated experiences across multiple media types (including print, online, social, mobile and broadcast) to deliver more targeted campaigns with measurable results. The new aspect of cross-media communication is the experience, and that involves a high level of audience interactivity. Cross-media campaigns are designed to engage consumers and get them more actively involved. Marketers that successfully engage their customers will be rewarded with higher brand awareness and consumer ownership of their brands. The waters remain uncharted for marketers and service providers, but it is time to get on the boat and start the journey.

Recent studies have confirmed that the average consumer in a developed country can actually be reached on an average of 7.2 personal channels (see box). All of these channels need to be combined with mass media, including catalogues, magazines, signage, events, and traditional broadcast media.

In 2010, InfoTrends conducted an in-depth study entitled Capturing the Cross-Media Direct Marketing Opportu­nity. The marketers who participated highlighted a shift – not only using more electronic and online marketing, but also more channels. Survey results indicated that marketers are using an average of 2.7 media channels per campaign. Each choice counted as one media type, and examples included direct mail, email, blogs, social media, and radio.

The use of multiple media types in a single campaign represents an increased understanding by marketers that direct marketing is more effective when a campaign is designed to leverage print, mobile, web, and social media in an integrated and targeted fashion.

Customers must be able to access brands wherever they want, however they want. If a consumer wants to shop with a mobile device, that’s where the marketer needs to be. Marketers need to ensure customers receive best-in-class service regardless of how they want to shop or where they are. In December 1998, the headline on the cover of Fortune magazine provided corporate readers with a stark choice: “Internet Or Bust!” The article was no less stark in its message: “Somewhere out there is a bullet with your company’s name on it. Somewhere out there is a competitor, unborn and unknown, that will render your business model obsolete.”

Given the rapid adoption and acceptance of cross-media communications, I believe a “Cross-media Or Bust” mantra holds true for the printing industry.

Frank Romano is professor emeritus at the Rochester Institute of Technology

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