Shoppers are increasingly channel fluid, easily going from viewing an Instagram ad to testing products in-store and searching online for the best deals. So, how can brands and retailers show up in an authentic way that creates an engaging omnichannel experience for customers at every touchpoint?
In our recent podcast, Kerry Thorpe, Head of Communications at Ben & Jerry’s, and Molly Baker, CEO and founder of Boutique Marketing Agency Indie Consulting, answered this very question. With decades of experience, they share their strategies to delight customers and create fans in an omnichannel world.
This article summarizes their key takeaways. Or you can watch the full episode below.
“We first and foremost want to start with what are we looking to achieve? And what are our customers looking to receive from us?” Molly Baker, Founder and CEO of Indie Consulting, explained when discussing how organizations can decide which communication channels to use.
Kerry Thorpe, Head of Communications at Ben & Jerry’s, agreed adding, “I think it [the channel choice] all depends on the campaign and the message you’re trying to get across and whether it’s a big campaign of the year. As much as you would love to put every single channel together for every single campaign, budgets don’t allow that. But some campaigns lean into presence in the physical world more than others.”
In this customer-centric approach to devising a marketing strategy, it’s essential to map out your brand’s objectives with the campaign, your key campaign messages, and your customer’s buyer journey. By considering all three aspects, marketers can identify where their customers are, what actions they want customers to take in each channel, and how they can deliver the message through those channels.
Additionally, Kerry & Molly highlighted the importance of considering the audience’s mindset when they are on each of these channels.
“Putting ourselves empathetically into the shoes of our customers and saying when they’re on these platforms, what type of mindset are they in?” Molly explained, “Are they sitting on the couch, trying to watch something on Hulu, and they’re just in zone-out mode? Are they scrolling through Instagram to see pictures of their friends’ kids and tap and like? Or are they really in a shopper mindset with their grocery list next to them?”
“As much as we can match the mindset to the action we’re looking for, the better because if we’re trying to get someone watching a Hulu show to then go buy a new popsicle, those are like three barriers we have to cross in order to get them there.”
Molly argues that marketers should consider how customers interact with various channels and what they expect from each platform. This will enable marketers to deliver more relevant and engaging content that builds brand affinity.
While marketing has progressively shifted to digital-first and performance-led, Kerry highlighted Ben & Jerry’s recent Chocolate Love-A-Fair campaign in which experiential marketing plays a pivotal role in conveying complex messages effectively. “That was Ben and Jerry’s coming together with Tony’s Chocolonely to announce a commitment in the cocoa supply chain. So it was us [Ben & Jerry’s] saying we would move. We were fair trade, then we paid an extra living income price on top of fair trade, then we joined Tony’s open chain to have transparency in the beans that we sourced.”
“So that’s a message that’s quite complicated to tell. And you need to take people on a journey,” Kerry continued. “So experiential was key for that, that we could have an event that kind of talked people through this mission and the ice cream that we had to celebrate it. So for that, we did have events in the markets that launched it, where we brought people together for almost a Ben and Jerry’s and Tony’s commitment ceremony and we had a celebrant marry the two brands and took them through this commitment and they went to play typical games you might play at a wedding or a ceremony where the games were educating you on this social justice topic.”
While experiential may not be possible for every campaign, it enables brands to communicate complex messages interactively. Incorporating experiential elements into marketing strategies can bring omnichannel campaigns to life and engage audiences on a deeper level. The video below includes footage from the Chocolate Love-A-Fair experiential campaign.
@tonyschocolonely_uk_ire POV: You just stepped into the Tony’s x @Ben & Jerry’s UK Chocolate Love A-Fair 🥰 #ChocolateLoveAFair #Valentines #ChocolateLover #IceCream #fyp ♬ Starry Eyed – Jane & The Boy
“We’re seeing clients move back more into some traditional tactics, whether it be out of home or print even – kind of viewing print as like Guerilla marketing. Which is funny because that never was what it was!” Molly explained when asked about trends in channel usage amongst clients.
“We definitely have seen some of the more traditional marketing and media tactics be pulled back into the mix.” Molly continued, “And I think that’s a good thing! I mean, the pendulum swung pretty far into performance-based digital, and reasonably so, but for long-term growth, especially when you have an omnichannel brand, you need those more awareness-building tactics that might not return right away but that are going to show different aspects of your brand over time. So I think it’s been a good way for the space to round back out again.”
While marketers can be quick to choose channels first, Molly argues that it’s important to take an empathetic approach and consider the audience’s mindset. With this approach, there isn’t a question of traditional or digital channels. The answer is yes and yes.
As well as choosing the right channel, our guests emphasize the need for compelling and creative storytelling throughout marketing campaigns.
“I hate it when I see a brand where everything is just ‘buy now, buy now, buy now.’” Molly exclaimed. “I understand that we sometimes have to beat people over the head; I get it. But there needs to be some level of creativity in the mix, too, and storytelling. That’s what makes this all fun and interesting.”
“Especially given where the economy’s been over the past year and so much uncertainty with inflation and cost of living. Just encouraging people to spend more money is not the answer, right? So, I think plugging back into emotional connectivity and finding ways to provide value back to customers again with that giving mindset. I think that’s going to be needed a lot more than just getting a CTA in front of someone to purchase.”
Kerry agreed, adding the need for storytelling as a way to communicate with audiences across channels consistently and coherently. Returning to the Chocolate Love-A-Fair example, she highlighted, “We also worked very hard on our point-of-sale items for shoppers when they went into their local supermarket. And thought about where will they be dwelling some more, and what messages can we get across.”
“So we did try to bring the big idea and creative through our different channels, but we were trying to think through: how long do people have to absorb these messages? Can we take them down a deeper funnel of messaging? Or do we just go Top Line? And what does that look like?”
“There were lots of conversations on how to get the message across in the right channel. But for that one, face-to-face touch points were so important. And bringing people into the physical world was really really important to tell a deeper story than ‘Ben and Jerry’s has a chocolate flavor.’”
Creativity and storytelling connect with customers emotionally, fostering stronger brand connections and memorable experiences. For our guests, this is key when engaging with and delighting audiences across multiple touchpoints. Marketing should go beyond a singular call to action and inspire and delight customers through compelling narratives and imaginative content.
This was just one of the topics we spoke to Kerry and Molly about on our recent podcast episode. Our lovely guests also shared a bit about life at Ben & Jerry’s, their biggest marketing lessons, and creating fans by leading with values.
You can watch the full episode here: https://youtu.be/4glFkE_GMQs?si=zj9ApjOwi40fH2tK
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