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Do your marketing channels reach your target audience? Or are you pouring money down the drain?

Are you offering product delivery and service that meet your customers’ needs? Or are these channels falling short as well?

Using the right channels to market your products and serve your customers is key to the success of your business.

This post will help you map out your customer channels as part of your Business Model Canvas so you can focus your efforts and streamline your operations.

Customer Channels

Customer channels are the lifeblood of your business, feeding profit and sending energy to your operations.

Mapping out your channels will tell you where and how to interact with your customers at every stage of their journey. Before you dive into filling out the Channels component of your Business Model Canvas, make sure you’ve laid out your Value Proposition and defined your Customer Segments.

Customer channels describe how you reach your target customer segments. 

  • How do you make potential customers aware of your business or your product?
  • How do you convince customers to buy your product?
  • How will they purchase your product?
  • How will the product be delivered to customers?
  • And after the sale, how can you continue to support customers and develop a relationship with them?

Your company’s success is determined by whether you’ve chosen the right channels to match what your customers want and need. That means not all channels are equal.

If you’re pouring money into Facebook ads but your customers are mostly spending time on LinkedIn, your choice of channel will hurt your bottom line.

Your channels need to match what your customer segments want when it comes to getting information, shopping experience, and access to after-sale assistance.

Channels and the Customer Journey

The marketing, sales, and distribution channels your company uses provide specific service to your customer.

In the graphic below, you can see the goals of various channels involved in winning and retaining customers. Orange shows the responsibility of your marketing channels, yellow shows what sales channels need to do, and green represents your distribution channels.

Let’s go through the phases of your customer journey and see how channels play an important role.

Aware – For your customer segments to even know about your company and what it provides, you need to decide how you are going to initially reach them.  Through your marketing and advertising, your customer segments find out about your product and/or services and develop enough interest to want to know more.

Consider – Next, reviews, comparisons, trials, videos, or other methods need to provide information for your customer segment to evaluate your product to decide to buy it.

Purchase – Once your customer has decided to buy your product, they need to purchase it through a sales channel. The customer might buy it at in a brick and mortar store or online.

Delivery – If the customer bought your product in a store, they just take it home. Today, many customers are buying online from Amazon, Etsy, or EBay, which offer a variety of options for delivering your product.

Support – For best customer satisfaction, providing the customer access to assistance after the purchase is important. Customers will have questions. They might want to make a return or exchange.  A delay may occur in shipping.  You want your after-sale customer service to amaze people with your commitment to their satisfaction.

Loyalty – The hardest part of marketing a product is gaining the customer. Once the customer is impressed with your product, they may be interested in additional products or  repeat purchases.  The customer may also become an advocate for your product.

Marketing Channels

Marketing channels make customers aware of your products or services, provide information to evaluate/consider the products, and try to build loyalty for the product for repeat sales or influencing other customers.

Now that you know the purpose of your marketing channels, let’s take a look at some of the options you can use to create those channels.

Personal/Face-to-Face – Allows your company to build the strongest relationship with the customer. The customer can quickly have questions answered, work through any concerns, and be pampered if the product is being branded as a luxury item. A store, farmer’s market, trade shows, or speaking engagements provide avenues to reach your customers directly.

Internet/Social Media – Creating your own website, business Facebook page, YouTube channel, or Instagram presence provides your customer with 24/7 product information, and in some cases, self-service. You can provide articles, videos, reviews, email signups for additional information or questions, “Buy Now” buttons, and contact information for inquiries or issues.  Additionally, you can monitor customer behavior through analytics tools. You can also fine-tune your online presence via search engine optimization (SEO) with tags and keywords, and you can reduce bounce rate with easy-to-navigate webpages.  Creating a presence on Yelp is also an effective way to get exposure online.

Email/Mail – Email or mail can be an efficient way to reach your customer segments directly.  Customers can be made aware of your product and provided with opportunities to take advantage of sales, special offers, or loyalty discounts.

Advertising – Newspapers, magazines, TV, Google Ads, and Facebook Ads are just a few of the options for actively gaining awareness for your product. Signage is an option if you can display your products where passersby might see it. If you have a compelling story that a newspaper or magazine would accept, you may be able to get free advertising through a featured story.

Affiliate marketing – Another business may advertise your product and you advertise theirs. Obviously, the businesses should have similar customers and not compete with each other.

Let’s take the example of an art supply store. What customer channels might they use?

Choosing the Right Channels for Your Business

Based on what you’ve learned about channels, how should you reach, nurture, and support your customers, based on your business’s value proposition? 

Fill in the Channels section of the business model canvas:

  1. A review of your customer segments and customer niches will provide you insight as to which channels to select.
  2. You want to select the channels that will reach the maximum number of customers for the lowest cost. Consider how you will measure the effectiveness of your chosen channels so that you can assess whether you’re getting your money’s worth.
  3. You should not select more channels than you can effectively manage. In particular, social media channels and blogs must be managed with consistency and quality.

Once you’ve mapped out your channels, stay tuned for the next post in this Business Model Canvas series so that you can integrate your chosen channels with your larger customer relationship plan.

Need help choosing the right channels for your business or mapping out any part of your business model canvas? Contact SCORE today to set up a free, confidential meeting with one of our mentors.

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About the Author(s)

Melissa Traynor

After graduating from California Polytechnic State University at San Luis Obispo, Melissa Traynor worked for 25 years in the Silicon Valley for well-established Hewlett Packard and startup MontaVista Software.  Melissa gained experience in the operations of a medium to large company doing a wide variety of support related, technical jobs.

Channels for Your Business Model Canvas