Punjab is often referred to as the ‘granary of India’ because of its high agricultural output. With five rivers flowing through the northern Indian state, it is naturally fertile, however, vast tracts of it were uncultivated until the late 1800s. That was when, during the British Raj, Victorian engineers transformed Punjab by creating a vast network of canals and waterways, irrigating wasteland into productive agricultural land. Like much Victorian engineering, those canals and waterways are still irrigating the farmland of Punjab.
So what on earth do canals built in the 1800s have to do with marketing? Well, they usefully illustrate that distribution is valuable in its own right.
During the late-Victorian age, Punjab’s farmers increased yields and overall output rose as existing farmland became better irrigated and wasteland was made productive. Similarly, social and digital channels are providing marketers with the opportunity to gain an extra foothold in the minds of those who are already customers and access to others who were previously out of reach. Just like the canals of Punjab distributed water, these new channels provide a useful method of distributing marketing activity.
Crucially, for social and digital channels to be effective from a marketing perspective, they need to be connected, with a logical flow that links directly to core marketing activity. Those who execute distribution well across all channels should expect to see higher sales from existing customers as well as an increase in overall sales brought about by capturing new customers.
To be clear, this is not yet another call to action for integrated campaigns – that argument was accepted a long time ago – this is a call for marketers to think about all the channels they use and make sure they’re sensibly connected. How often do you go to a corporate website and click a link to Facebook that takes you to a page that hasn’t been updated since 2010? Every link to an unused or disused social media page directs a potential customer to a dead end.
Social media provides immense marketing opportunities. Viewed as a distribution channel, it can potentially increase sales. However, to achieve the sales boost, companies must audit the channels they use and ensure that they are as well connected as the Victorian waterways of Punjab.