There has a tremendous amount of press recently about the growth of online advertising, communities, social networking, job growth and e-commerce. There is no doubting it: online is coming of age. But I think it is more profound that any of us in business can imagine. Currently, the hottest media properties, jobs, phone company, real estate firm and, as we all know, means for finding anything and everything form of search is online. More amazing to me, however, is that my mom runs a car dealership that her father started in 1918, and even they are getting into the online act. But not everything will be sold online, nor will all phone call calls use the Internet, or all media and music be consumed online. And I am not debating the value of online — I am, and will continue to be, a HUGE FAN and user. However, I believe in matching the right channel to every job and activity. Said differently, I use different channels to achieve different needs:
- I still like to talk with my wife in-person (although we use email a lot), as well as create relationships with people in-person.
- I enjoy my weekly calls with my business associates using traditional conference call capabilities.
- I prefer online commerce to storefronts, but that is only until all retailers really understand how to replicate the Sony and Apple store experiences.
In short, I believe in ‘Right Channeling.’ Right Channeling is providing people the channel they need to achieve their personal and business objectives. And by offering them the right channel to accomplish their goals, each and everyone of your constituents — be it customer, employee, partner or investor — will be more loyal and committed to doing business with you. For proof, my two college age sons use the physical world for much of their day-to-day activities — including socializing with their friends, playing sports, and, if you can believe it, shopping for new technology and media equipment. That is not to say that they don’t LOVE THEIR iPods and iTunes, Facebook, etrade, and eBay accounts. But they pick the channel that they want — not the reverse (e.g. businesses picking which channel to offer them their goods and services). It’s time for every business to realize that the online channel is just one channel of three channels – the other two being the phone and in-person. The bottom line is: to succeed in today’s ‘my way’ economy, businesses will have to offer all three channels to succeed.
- Barry 5/29/06