Cross-Channel Narrative or “Stickiness”: Which Marketing Strategy Should You Use?

There is much discussion about cross-channel marketing today, in great part driven by the multiple-device users your clients’ marketing messages need to reach. Branding experts talk about telling your brand story through multiple channels, so the story carries the reader or user from channel to channel as it unfolds. Online marketers seek web traffic, so they use social media to increase buzz and offline marketing to inspire search. Social and content marketers tout engagement; offline marketers integrate social to achieve the same goal. But is all of this cross-channel effort really having a measurable influence on moving product or selling services?

We should be thinking about the flip side of the cross-channel marketing coin: should ad agencies and their clients be thinking strategically about “stickiness” of ideas presented via carefully selected media, rather than spreading marketing dollars across too many channels and achieving little or no impact?

If your clients want to attract people who are ready to buy—and keep them long enough to persuade them to buy—cross-channel marketing may not be the ideal strategy. Think more about making client marketing messages “sticky” and save cross-channel narratives for awareness campaigns or promotional efforts.

More Media or Better Ideas?

“Stickiness” has been widely embraced since the publication of Chip and Dan Heath’s Made to Stick. It’s hard to believe it is only ten years since the book was first published, offering the Heaths’ concepts about what makes certain ideas “stick” while others fade from notice. The creation of stickier ideas has been applied to everything from public speaking to branding and marketing. But as media devices have proliferated and individual users’ media consumption habits have altered, “stickiness” has fallen by the wayside. Trendy too often trumps strategic thinking. We are so focused on being everywhere the customer might be, we’re spending too little time thinking about where they are most often, and for the longest time.

Hence, this reminder that “stickiness”—using memorable ideas or presentations to attract and hold on to customers—is a smarter strategy for many of your clients. Agencies need to know how to find and reach customers for each of their clients, in ways that make customers stop and stay awhile.

  • Where do they congregate?
  • What media do they prefer or use for accessing each space?
  • What activities take place in those spaces?
  • What kinds of messaging are most appropriate for those activities?
  • How can messages serve customer needs, and guide customers through the client’s purchase cycle?
  • How can those messages be made more memorable and shareable?

The more precisely you can answer these questions, the more effective you will be as a marketing partner for each client. Fail to know your customers well enough to find them with the right messages in the right places… at the most influential times… and your value as a marketing partner rapidly declines. You can best serve the client by knowing the customers and delivering “sticky” marketing results.

Don’t do full-scale cross-channel marketing for every client or every campaign. It’s your job to parse the data and select only those channels that will do the job best.

As you work on your next campaign, dig deeper into customer research. Learn all you can about customer wants, needs, activities, media consumption and habits. Create “sticky” marketing with great creative ideas and strong execution, then apply it to create impact and engage customers for longer periods.

It’s not about using the most channels—it’s about using the most effective channels, most effectively.

Identify the best places to use your “sticky” messages, get customers to spend time with those messages, and your services will be golden to clients and coveted by prospects.

See also: Why Cross-Channel Is Not the Same as Multi-Channel

Transmedia Planning: The Brand Is the Story

Recency: Reaching People Ready to Buy


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