Is it just me or have you noticed a shift in your status when physically in a store or at your local eatery?

At my regular lunch spot, I’ve started to find myself last on the priority list when waiting for my order. It appears online orders and delivery drivers are first, leaving me waiting at the back of the literal and metaphorical queue!

I do get it. For many, it’s still a new(ish) problem that companies are having to grapple with.

However, the fact that people want maximum flexibility in where and how they discover and purchase items, means that creating seamless brand and shopping experiences regardless of the channel needs to be a priority.

So, how can companies achieve this?

In the past, companies have turned to the 4Ps of McCarthy’s marketing mix which includes price, product, promotion and place or even Boom and Bitner’s 7Ps which add packaging, positioning and people as their focus.

While these may attract new customers, I’m not sure this is enough anymore. COVID-19’s impact on customer behaviour has reshuffled priorities and businesses slow to optimise in-person interaction and digital engagement could see an impact on long-term retention. To keep people loyal when managing omnichannel strategies, companies need to work harder.

I’d propose Peppers & Roger’s 5Is as an additional and interesting way to approach community retention and engagement. These are:

  1. Identification: Know who your customers are, in as much detail as possible
  2. Individualism: Offer a benefit to eachcustomer, based on what that customer needs
  3. Interaction: Create a dialogue to understand individuals said and unsaid needs
  4. Integration: Coordinate all activities for each customer across all channels
  5. Integrity: Secure the trust of the customers by not violating data practices

Using the traditional 4Ps of the marketing mix simultaneously with Peppers & Roger’s 5Is could be a step towards a more holistic approach – supporting strong omnichannel performance. One attracts new fans whilst the latter supports community retention.

I’m also taken with Forrester’s view that engagement is one of the most important metrics within communications. This is where we see success from sites such as Pinterest or from online influencers, where subscribers spend hours researching and becoming influenced by brands and communities when searching for a product before they purchase.

Forrester states that there are four components to engagement:

  1. Involvement
  2. Interaction
  3. Intimacy
  4. Influence
  5. Individual

Whilst this may feel like a sea of Ps and Is, ultimately brands need to provide meaningful and consistent storytelling about the brand offering, tailored to individuals across the channel of the customer’s choosing, for customer engagement.

This is where PR, with its agile approach, really stands out from other marketing disciplines. Driven by editorially led, purposeful storytelling, it holds the key for companies to unlock better connections with their audience and stimulate the audience’s feelings, ideas, and attitudes to align with the brand and business objectives.

However we choose to shop, it’s seamless storytelling across all channels – capturing the hearts and minds of new audiences and existing communities – that leads to loyal brand engagement and advocacy.