Channels are ways for you to reach your Customer Segments. Channels are ways for you to reach your CS. Channels can be email, social, CPC ads, blogs, articles, trade shows, radio & TV, webinars etc.
Communicate with your customers
How will consumers come into contact with your brand? Where will they first learn about your company? Will it be through social media? If so, which sites? Will it be through advertising? If so, where will these ads exist? You can use the ecosystem mapping template and create a strong content strategy to help you define what channels you’ll reach customers at different times.
Channels to consumers are also known as “touchpoints” — the points or places where users encounter your brand. Identifying consumer channels is crucial, as you want to ensure potential users are hooked on what you’re offering and satisfied with your service through every step of their experience. There are three time periods when consumers will come into contact with your company; within each of these are a range of ways in which users will encounter your brand:
- Social media platforms
- Word of mouth
- Main website
- Conversations with sales or other team members
- Follow-up “Thank you” notes
- Email updates on new products or features
- Customer feedback surveys
Careful! The bullets above are meant to spark your thinking about possible channels. However, when you fill in this section be specific about your consumer touchpoints.
The old saying is ‘fish where the fish are’. Now the thing is, your channels to find and talk to your potential customers might not always be obvious. It is also dependant on the complexity of your business.
For example, your business might be Business-to-business (B2B), in which case your channels could be partners and affiliates. You might not sell to the partners but you might sell through the Partners.
Let’s say you run an e-commerce store. Your customers are on Facebook a lot, and so that’s a channel for you. For others your channel might be events because it’s going to take a little bit of thought leadership and a little bit of expertise to be able to speak about what it is you deliver – because your product is knowledge. In that case your channel would need an environment where you can transfer knowledge.
So think about your channels, list them out because this will be a key thing in your marketing and sales strategy when it’s all in line with your customer base and your customer segments. Then you have a good sales and marketing pipeline, which is actually just a revenue pipeline.
A key part of creating value for your customers, which drives revenue growth, is knowing what the alternatives are to what you’re offering.
Your biggest competitor: “Doing nothing”
So you’re running a business and you know that your customers have a particular problem, or that you can solve a particular list of problems. The next thing you want to do is to find out what the existing alternatives are for your solution. It may not necessarily even be a competitive product. It may actually be that your prospects do nothing at all. It may be that an existing alternative is to not do anything because they are too scared of making the mistake of getting the wrong product, or getting the wrong service. So your would-be customer delays the decision-making process even longer.
An existing alternative might be a competitive product, in which case you need to figure out, “Well what is it that I solve that my competitor doesn’t solve?” If you’re a Business-to-Business (B2B) company selling tasks that are outsourced to you, an existing alternative could actually be your customers hiring an internal team to do it instead. So you might actually be competing against an internal team. In this case you’ll want to frame your solution in a way that explains the benefits of using an external team versus an internal team.
The point is, don’t just think about competitive products. Also think about some of the excuses and the things that people do, sometimes even just out of human nature, that would replace your solution in their problem context – even if it means they’re doing nothing.
So what are the existing alternatives?
How else can your customers address their problems? What products or services already exist as alternatives to yours? This section is where you identify competition. Who are you up against?
Research your competition using multiple methods. Ask target customers about other products or services they’ve explored or used. Utilise search engines, social media and trade publications to become an authority on your industry.