Channel marketing is how small businesses survive in the world of giant industry. Proper distribution is the key to success no matter what service or product you are selling. With the marketplace fast becoming a virtual enterprise, finding the right channels is more critical than ever. What is the most important channel when creating your small business marketing plan?
What are Channels?
Simply put, channels are how companies get their products out to customers. In most cases, a channel is about communication - finding ways to let consumers know you are in business. From there, the concept gets more complex. Channels boil down to specific formats for moving a product or offering a service.
- Social media
- Email marketing
- Print advertising
- Internet ads
- Search Engine rankings
- A physical store
These are all examples of channels.
Creating a Channel Schematic
The Internet has changed how small businesses work for the better, but it has also made the concept of marketing more involved. The smart businessperson knows how to find the right grouping of channels and create a comprehensive approach to product distribution.
Website - ultimately, it is all about creating an Internet presence. Most companies recognize the value of a business website. It gets the brand listed in search engines, creates an e-commerce channel for purchasing and serves as a virtual store for consumers to browse. Businesses can exist these days without a physical store, but few make it without a proper website.
Social media - one of the key players for communication and interaction in any industry. Setting up accounts in mainstream sites lets a business promote new products, advertise sales, generate leads and manage online customer service. With sites like LinkedIn, social networking becomes a tool to find employees, new vendors and create B2B relationships.
Internet Ads - a low-cost approach to advertising that can target specific groups on the web. It is the modern-day version of a full-page newspaper ad. Internet ads cover social media sites, search engines, mobile advertising and local directories.
Don't Forget the Old Standbys - a percentage of the population still reads the newspaper, subscribes to magazines and pulls out the phone book when they need something. A small amount of your marketing budget should aim at traditional channels such as local advertising, newspapers and billboards.
Channel marketing is more than a trend - the concept is not new, just growing. The Internet has given consumers modern avenues for shopping, searching for businesses and communicating with one another. By finding the right mix of channels, companies expand their opportunities to build repeat business and find new leads. Diversifying marketing using a combination of virtual and traditional channels will build a business that lasts.
James Cash is part of a team of writers and specializes in writing about current news events.