The Communication Firehose

There is a dramatic increase of usage for the term “omni-channel” or “multichannel” marketing. It’s truly the hot button term today. Is it really good for your customers? And therefore your bottom-line?

Wikipedia defines omni-channel as …

…the use of a variety of channels in a customer's shopping experience including research before a purchase. Such channels include: retail stores, online stores, mobile stores, mobile app stores, telephone sales and any other method of transacting with a customer. Transacting includes browsing, buying, returning as well as pre-sale and after-sale service. [link]

In the enterprise marketing space, this concept goes much deeper. This conversation typically includes web content management, enterprise search, marketing automation, deep web analytics, unified marketing records, digital asset management, email campaign marketing, customer relationship management, lead scoring, targeting, segmentation, e-commerce, product info management and much more…. Omni-channel marketing can be carved up into a number of enterprise delivery platforms.

The Firehouse Mentality.

Don’t get me wrong, the idea of a firehose is inherently good for safety’s sake. The reality is your customers aren’t on fire. They need a brand that has finesse. A brand that can listen and pay attention to the reaction of customers that are the target for their brand.

I also feel like some brands who choose to over-communicate are cheapening their brand’s value to the customer. I find myself wondering “is there always a sales going on 100% of the time? if so, why not price the cloths cheaper and have less sales.” What is the value proposition of a brand that is constantly discounting its clothing?


So what’s my point? Don’t be so quick to leverage those systems that your company invested so much time, effort and money into without a plan of attack. Just because the system can do it doesn’t make it a strategy. Also, don’t let your stakeholders push you into frequent communication plans that may end up hurting the customer relationship in the end.


Ask yourself, “What is the right cadence and rhythm for communication?”. Use metrics and web analytics to understand how your customers are reacting. Use A/B testing and smaller test pools to test out ideas before adopting them across the enterprise. Be careful of overlapping agendas from different sub brands in you company. Just because you have a single customer repository don’t be tempted to blast out communication that isn’t targeted to the right people at the right time.


We are entering a dangerous era of enterprise marketing where the levels of personalization and audience targeting are bordering on creepy. Treat your customers with the dignity they deserve. If you do that, they will become brand ambassadors for you.