Silo, silo in the game – who is the prettiest or are we the same?

Social media marketing vs. email marketing. Direct mail vs. email marketing. Outdoor vs. TV. Choosing media channels and marketing instrumentation seems to be a case of personal preference. And that is likely costing your business much success.

Consumer prefer many different channels - do not silo your marketing efforts

You need more than fancy pants to succeed in marketing these days

Written by Michael Leander

Let’s face it. Being great at marketing these days requires more than a flashy pair of pants, a slick hair-cut and some über smart eyeglasses.

With new channels comes new challenges. Marketers should be taking a holistic and customer centric approach.

Instead too many marketers have become one trick pony’s boxing themselves into neat little “evangelic silos” . Hence most marketers fail to approach their market with a holistic mindset driven by outside- in thinking. And that is likely to deliver much less success and oftentimes failure.

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Silo-ism is a problem now. And it will become an even bigger problem in the near future if marketers don’t change their mindset away from the tool and channel orientation and move over to a media and channel agnostic approach.

Read interview with David Aaker – author of spanning silo’s

Give a boy a hammer, and he will find that everything he encounters needs pounding
The Law of the Hammer is attributed to both Maslow and Kaplan. Another form of narrow-minded instrumentalism include: déformation professionnelle, a French term for “looking at things from the point of view of one’s profession”.

In the case of the majority of marketers, sadly marketing efforts are based on what the marketer knows, cares for and takes an interest in. Too many marketers are band-wagoners – people merely following what they perceive to be trendy and cool. Some time ago it was Email Marketing. Then Digital as a whole. Then Second Life. Now it is all about Social Media.

So many businesses are currently investing in social media marketing initiatives without even understanding why, how or even what type of Return on Marketing Investment to get from those activities. What’s worse, so many have become instrumentational evangelists.

The story of the worst kind of new media marketing consultant
An acquaintance of mine has very little real marketing background and experience, but jumped on the social media bandwagon early on. Referring to social media as the Holy Grail, he is a very good example of someone with only one (battered) hammer in his marketing tool box. Someone whom genuinely believe that whatever the business or marketing challenge, social media is the answer.

And I strongly disagree with that. Because it is never about the tool or the channel. It is – on the contrary – always all about understanding how to best engage with different groups of customers and prospects. Different channels and media work in different stages of the buying and selling cycle. And people are different – so a group of customers can be reached effectively through social media, others through direct mail, email, personal phone calls etc. But usually the best approach is to mix all these different channels up.

Here are 3 random thoughts that I believe are worth remembering when you are going about solving marketing and business problems. Get the newsletter for more thoughts on important marketing issues.

1. Who is the person with a problem that you can solve?

The first task for any marketer is to understand which problems you can solve for your audience. It is surprising how many marketers don’t get that!

Secondly, you need to identify whom your target audience is. The more detailed you can be in your definition of your ideal customer segments, the better.

If you already have a size-able group of customers, you may want to consider the Twin-segmentation model. It is a simple technique where you identify your best customers, understand the characteristics of those customers, and then find prospects that are similar to these customers. To learn more about Twin segmentation get the newsletter

2. What are the media preferences of your target audience?

The diagram is for illustration purpose only

Depending on whom you are targeting, you can bet that their set of media preferences will differ. And even within so-called homogeneous groups of like-minded people, you will find that media preferences can in fact differ a lot. Unfortunately the one-hammer people will lead you to believe that as long as you are in social media then you are safe.


In most countries, surveys document that as much as 25% of any demographic take preference for direct mail. Yes, that’s right. Direct friggin mail. Of course your average social media consultant doesn’t have a clue, nor does he care.

The smart marketer would try to demystify target group media preferences. If you are good at direct marketing, you would do that through profiling of each of your potential customers. Your profiling activities would seek to identify how each person would like to receive communication from you and how that person would prefer to interact with you. A smart and relatively uncomplicated method, yet most marketers seem to be too busy developing new viral campaigns to care.

For more about this topic, read Jim Marous’ fine article here

3. Where in the buying cycle is your target audience?

buying process in marketing

Graph for illustration purposes only

The length of the buying cycle of your product or service can range from only a few minutes to several months or even several years. Usually, the length of the buying cycle is directly related to the price AND complexity of your product or service — the higher the price, the longer the buying cycle.

Buying commodities such as printer paper or milk involves a very short buying cycle, whereas a major purchase such as a house or building a new factory tends to involve a very long buying cycle.

The question relevant to marketers is how you educate and nurture your prospective customers while they are in different stages of the buying process. I have seen many examples where the media instrumentation changed several times throughout the prospective customers buying process. From initial communication in digital channels to closing the deal in offline channels.

That is all I have time for now. But I intend to follow-up with more input. Get the newsletter for more thoughts on important marketing issues.