Originally posted on the Chameleon blog 02/08/2013
One of the biggest issues being faced by digital managers today is the much talked about integrated, cross-, multi- or even omni-channel marketing approach.

This issue isn't exclusive to digital however and both brand and agency folk working across all channels and sectors, including charities, need to find the most efficient and effective way to deliver coherent brand experiences that the customer expects, and I believe "digital first" is the most effective solution.
A Common Problem
At the recent Chameleon iRaiser launch event held at Amnesty International's rather smart looking Shoreditch office, I got chatting to a digital manager from a large UK charity about the challenges faced by digital managers in medium to large sized charities.
Over a cup of tea, we discussed how events like this give people working in digital in the charity sector an opportunity to discuss what turn out to be commonly held problems; too much work, not enough time, not enough resource, having to deal with agencies... ok, maybe not the last one, hopefully.
Until joining Chameleon last year, I worked outside the charity sector and I can assure those put upon digital managers that this is not the only sector facing these problems.
Working in Siloes
As I mentioned to the charity digital manager at the iRaiser event, the main problem that I've experienced in previous roles outside of the charity sector is that even large global brands and retailers have trouble executing integrated campaigns successfully due to the siloed nature of their organisations.
Agencies also have the same problem: you need a lot of skills and knowledge to work in digital, whether as a creative, marketer or project manager. You also need a whole host of other skills and knowledge to work in Direct Marketing, Branding, Point of Sale etc., (charities have their own particular challenges too) and to expect someone to do the full range effectively and successfully is in most cases, unrealistic. The old phrase "Jack of All Trades, Master of None" springs to mind.
Lack of Understanding
My experience working for an "integrated" agency a few years ago backs this up. The clients we worked with were mostly large, often global, retail and entertainment brands. Our contacts at these brands usually worked in very specific parts of the organisation, e.g. instore POS (Point of Sale) or Retail Activation, and generally had little to no understanding of digital.
The agency had no one at a sales level who understood digital so IF we ever did manage to sell some digital activity it was generally with no real understanding of what that entailed (from client or agency), which meant I often ended up, as the only digital person, having to Project Manage this part of the campaign.
On one memorable project for a large global retail sports brand this involved working with a number of different people in different parts of the organisation and in some cases their 3rd party agencies, in order to deliver email, social media and website promotional activity, none of which had been fully understood or planned by either the client or the agency.
So while industry sites and blogs continue to extol the virtues of the omni-channel approach and the wonderfully acronymed SoLoMo (social, local, mobile), and the need for brands, including charities and NFPs, to interact with customers/donors/supporters/fundraisers etc. via their channels of exploration and at every stage of the process; the problem remains that this isn't how most brands and charities are organised and it requires lots of internal collaboration to deliver truly cross-channel campaigns. And as I've demonstrated this isn't just within the organisations but also within the agencies.
Digital First
Too often I've found, despite the obvious and very highly publicised shift online, that digital is seen as easy and that anybody can do it. We know it's not (not if you want it done properly), and that's why Chameleon's digital first approach is the right one in my opinion and I think there should be much more ongoing collaboration and conversation between agencies and brands in the planning and execution of campaigns and strategies, whether they be charity, not-for-profit, retail, entertainment etc.
The omni-channel solution should be about brands, and agencies, getting their internal communications right and ensuring that they have the right resource in the right place at the right to time to ensure they can deliver a cohesive and effective solution, whatever that entails, after all the customer expects and demands a coherent brand experience and it's up to both brands and agencies to find the best way to deliver it.
Back to Top