Brand marketers -- and often their retail partners -- must ensure that the product information they provide is accurate, up-to-date, and consistent across all shopping channels. If they fall short with the consistency of their omni-channel branding, the consequences can be severe, with consumers losing trust and manufacturers and retailers losing sales.
On the plus side, a cohesive omni-channel brand presence allows the product -- if marketed successfully -- to become more ingrained in the consumers' everyday lives. But this is no easy feat given the sheer volume of products, content, and packaging information that brand marketers are dealing with every day. Capturing content from product samples and digital files is a demanding process, requiring specialized systems and workflows. Coupled with the need to distribute this content to a wide network of retailers, mobile apps, and specialty merchants, the whole branding process can be overwhelming.
There are three steps brand marketers can take to deliver a consistent and effective branding strategy in today's omni-channel environment.
The importance of high-quality, complete, and accurate product content is not lost on brand marketers; however, most organizations struggle with silos. Internal silos can prohibit the availability of accurate and complete product content being shared between internal departments, as well as with third party resources. The product content used for the e-commerce site might differ from the content that was provided to the ad agency. Multiply this inaccuracy across multiple departments and channels and a brand marketer is faced with an omni-channel mess.
To streamline the accuracy, efficiency, and reliability of product content, brand marketers can leverage a central database for product information either in-house or provided and hosted by a third-party. By leveraging a one-stop-shop for product content, marketers can save time in their daily tasks to ensure the information that they provide vendors and partners is consistent, accurate, and drives efficiencies.
Putting a system in place to leverage a central database for product content is an important first step to improving omni-channel branding, but brand marketers shouldn't stop there. As it's often said, the only constant in life is change -- that is especially true in the world of consumer products. Packaging, nutritional info, ingredients, and other product attributes are continually updated. Those variations, factored across numerous SKUs and product categories, can wreak havoc on a brand marketers' omni-channel branding strategy.
Brand marketers should commit to internal processes -- or a third-party resource -- that helps guarantee that product information is constantly updated to maintain the validity of the data.
The next logical -- and critical -- step in the path to a consistent omni-channel branding strategy is to distribute that information to the right sources. Like most business processes, it can be best to automate the distribution of product content to promote efficiencies and reduce the likelihood of human error. With new channels for product information popping up each day -- such as websites, social media, blogs, and mobile applications, etc. -- it's important to focus on reach and efficiency in your distribution strategy.
Sue Sentell is president and CEO of Gladson.
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