Experimenting with new channels is not cheap, and you have to accept that there’ll be failures as well as wins along the way. But if you do it right you'll almost certainly grow your customer base. New channel innovation sits at the heart of MVF’s strategy. Here’s why…
1: Competitive advantage
We have experienced significant competitive advantage as a direct result of being the first to market in new channels. Simply put: if you’re in a viable channel before your competitors, you’re likely to benefit from a period of shallow advertiser depth. As soon as the secret’s out, though, costs increase, the audience grows overburdened with competing messages and you’ll have to start working harder to extract the same returns. Speed is of the essence. It also pays to forge good working relationships with the platforms in question. There’s only positives to be gained if you’re a key part of their early growth.
2: Diversification of risk
Whether it’s your best salesperson, one key client, or a supplier with a singular offering, over-reliance makes bad business sense. And the same is true for your go-to-market channels. Facebook and Google are dominant across many sectors, and some businesses are almost entirely dependent on these platforms. This means relatively minor tweaks in their algorithms can spell disaster for overly reliant companies. Hence, a commitment to assessing new possibilities as and when they arise makes sense. If you’re using five channels to reach your customers you’re in much better shape than if all your eggs are going in to Facebook’s basket.
3: Audience growth
Any organisation content to churn out the same old messages to the same people for years on end should expect to run into difficulties at some stage. Embracing new channels means investing in new ways to grow your audience, and the benefits should be obvious. If you’re able to master Instagram or Pinterest, you’re likely to be speaking to a very different audience than the email list you’ve had for years, comprised of people that registered at a company event. Similarly, the people opening your emails aren’t necessarily the same one following you on Twitter. Audience growth (read sales growth) requires a commitment to cross-channel communication.
4: Diversification of message
Different channels lend themselves to communicating in different ways. Some necessitate the presentation of a more visual side to your brand, while others are better disposed towards offering the audience more granular detail about specifics of what you’re offering. By testing a wide variety of channels, you give your business the best possible chance of expressing itself and leveraging value right across the web. As with the point about audience growth, diversification means being able to engage with a wider variety of people, and in their prefered spaces.
5: Learning when you lose
While you won’t see any champagne corks popping in the MVF office when we decide our attempts to leverage a new channel have failed, you won’t see many glum faces either. New channel innovation means accepting a certain percentage of your experiments will fail, and factoring them into the budget. We generally work with a 60/40 rule, where 60 per cent of our ventures into new channels bear fruit. There can be any number of reasons for these failures, but we document all scenarios and make sure we take the learnings away to ensure we don’t repeat mistakes and are able to apply what we learn elsewhere.