Stop Focusing On One Channel Of Marketing At A Time!

By MaryEllen Tribby

People often hear the term multi-channel marketing and ask if it is the same thing as multi-level marketing.

The answer is no, definitely not, no way!

Multi-level marketing (MLM), as defined by Wikipedia is also called network marketing, referral marketing, and pyramid selling. It is a term that describes a marketing structure used by some companies as part of their overall marketing strategy. The structure is designed to create a marketing and sales force by compensating promoters of company products not only for sales they personally generate, but also for the sales of other promoters they introduce to the company, creating a downline of distributors and a hierarchy of multiple levels of compensation in the form of a pyramid.

The products and company are usually marketed directly to consumers and potential business partners by means of relationship referrals and word of mouth marketing.

This is NOT multi-channel marketing.


Multi-channel marketing is simply offering customers and prospects more than one way to buy.

It is leveraging successful direct response marketing into a cohesive campaign that consists of different channels of marketing. It includes all channels of online and offline marketing.

Think about the way people you know buy things. Now try to answer the questions below.

Question #1: Do you think an 80-year-old grandmother in Stanford, Connecticut, who has a passion for gardening buys through the same channel as a 21-year-old man who loves to surf in Venice Beach, California?

Question #2: Do you think that they are both good prospects for, or have responded to, a multi-channel marketing campaign?

If you said “no” to question #1, you are correct. And if you said “yes” to question #2, you are correct.

Let’s say the grandmother in our example wants a new pair of gardening gloves. She receives a direct-mail offer showing a beautiful picture of the gloves at a reasonable price. The offer comes from the same company that sold her a new shovel a year ago. The good price, the picture, the timeliness of the ad, and her comfort with the company all combine to make her interested in buying the gloves. But part of Granny still thinks she can get one more year out of her old gloves.

The very next day, she sees a TV commercial for the very same gloves. And the commercial features an 800 number that makes it easy to order. So she picks up the phone and orders. Five days later, she is enjoying her new gloves.

And let’s say our 21-year-old surfer wants a new surfboard. He’s already gotten numerous sales calls via telephone from the same company that sold him his first board. But he is not ready to buy a new one without seeing it first. It doesn’t matter that he’s familiar with the company. It doesn’t matter that they are offering a convenient payment plan. He refuses to buy a new board without first seeing it with his own eyes.

As luck (or good marketing) would have it, a couple of days later he receives an email from the same company offering the same board with the same payment plan. But the e-mail includes a 90-second video of the board that showcases its benefits. He orders it immediately online.

These examples show how important it is to market your products through multiple channels. Different people respond to advertising in different ways. And very often your customers or potential customers need to see offers more than once before they make the decision to buy.

In both of the cases above, the customers needed to have the same message delivered via a different channel in order to make the purchase.

Had the companies in question marketed through only a single channel, both sales would have been lost. Plus, both companies now have customers who have purchased through two different channels— and studies have shown that there is a direct correlation between the number of channels a buyer has responded to and his lifetime value to the company. A study by the Direct Marketing Association [DMA] found that customers who buy from two channels rather than one are between 20 and 60 percent more valuable to a company over time. Customers who buy from three channels rather than one are 60 to 125 percent more valuable.

Another benefit: Multi-channel buyers purchase a wider range of products. Therefore increasing their lifetime value.


There are numerous ways to calculate a customer’s lifetime value (LTV). And most of them are daunting. But let’s make it less complicated.

Lifetime value is the contribution a customer makes to your bottom line over the period of time they continue to buy from you. You need to know your customers’ average LTV for two very simple reasons.

1. Lifetime value will help you determine exactly how much you can spend to acquire a new customer.

2. Lifetime value will help you determine how much you need to spend to retain an existing customer.

Knowing the LTV of your customers will be a deciding factor when incorporating various multi-channel marketing campaigns into your business model.

If calculating LTV is new to you, I suggest you use the Harvard Business School Toolkit—Lifetime Customer Value Calculator, Basic Model. It’s available for free download at Here’s a quick peek at the way it works (you will, of course, substitute your own assumed values when using the software).


Time between Purchases (years)        3
Retention Rate per Period                   80%
Average Purchase Value                      $50.00
Profit Margin                                         25%
Profit per Purchase                               $12.50
Discount Rate per Year                        12%
Product Inflation per Year                   3%
Cost of Reaching Potential Customer  $0.50
Response Rate                                       10%
Cost of Attracting a Customer            $5.00
Coupon or Other Discount Costs       $8.00
Total Customer Acquisition Cost      $13.00


Years per Period                         3
Retention Rate                           80%
Inflation per Year                       3%
Discount Rate per Year               12%
Change in Value of Customer Purchase Period    –13%
Discount Rate per Period    40%
Net Present Value of Customer Purchase Stream    $23.55
Cost of Acquiring a Customer    $13.00
Net Present Value of Acquiring a Customer    $10.55

There are more complex models from the Harvard Business School and other sources. But keep in mind that you are a marketer, not a bean counter. Get your numbers and move on to bringing in more revenues through multi-channel campaigns.

Successful companies have been implementing multi-channel marketing campaigns for years.

However even today, some companies are still afraid to experiment with multi-channel marketing. They market through only a single channel, the channel that they are most comfortable with.

This is a common mistake. And companies that insist on pursuing a single marketing channel remain indefinitely in the infancy stage of business growth.

Remember how the hyper-successful pop-up ads of the early 2000s took a huge dive in popularity and efficacy? Marketing is cyclical. You need to position yourself to reach your customers the way that they want you to reach them.

Once you understand and apply the secrets of multi-channel marketing, you will discover that your customers are happier. And having happier customers means a healthier business.

If you’re ready to find more customers, create bigger profits, and expand your business, check out my #1 best-seller, Changing the Channel: 12 Easy Ways to Make Millions for Your Business.
MaryEllen About MaryEllen

MaryEllen Tribby has helped thousands of people start a new business or grow their existing ones. MaryEllen is the Founder and CEO of, the world’s leading newsletter and website for the empowerment of the working mom. Prior to founding WMO, MaryEllen was Publisher & CEO of Early to Rise and President of Weiss Research where she added millions to their bottom lines in just a few months. She also ran divisions at Forbes, Times Mirror Magazines, and Crain’s New York Business. MaryEllen is the best-selling author of Reinventing the Entrepreneur: Turning Your Dream Business into a Reality and co-author (with Michael Masterson) of Changing the Channel: 12 Easy Ways to Make Millions For Your Business.

Speak Your Mind


* Copy This Password *

* Type Or Paste Password Here *