Indy AMA
Indianapolis Chapter of the American Marketing Association

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Lessons in Omni Channel Marketing

Written by Kelly Wheat

Defining omni-channel marketing is simple, but executing it successfully takes serious strategy.  From the Latin word omnis meaning “all” or “everything,” omni-channel marketing focuses on the customers’ experience and how they can engage with a brand across multiple platforms simultaneously. This could mean being in the store and reading reviews on their phone, or seeing ads from Finish Line on a laptop while checking social media posts about new styles.

Michael Grimes, Vice President of Omni-Channel Marketing at Finish Line, was the guest speaker at IndyAMA’s September luncheon, and he outlined Finish Line’s strategy for marketing and how this plays out in the retail world of high-end fashion sneakers.Michael has been at Finish Line since 2008, and has steered the brand through its current growth of over 650 physical stores with 400 more located within Macy’s stores across the nation, and the acquisition of 80 specialty stores that retain their own name but are run under the Finish Line flagship.  Finish Line to date counts over 10 million loyalty customers.

Michael said that the primary questions always on his mind – and should be on all marketers minds – are:

  1. How well do you know your customer?
  2. How well do you know your brand?
  3. How well does your customer know your brand?

Finish Line’s guiding principles are that speed and relevancy for the customer results in customer loyalty – but how fast is fast enough?  He said that by 2016, 75% of retail will be influenced by digital channels, and 50% of searches will done on mobile devices.  Finish Line’s strategy is to make their customer’s experience a completely integrated and friction-free one.  Michael said they always consider:

  • Do we talk to our customer?
  • How often do we talk to our customer?
  • Do we actively listen to the customer?
  • Do we respond to what we hear, changing our strategy as needed?

Michael illustrated his point by telling the audience that through extensive market research, they have been able to create a persona of the typical Finish Line customer, referred to as “Jake.” Jake is male, 23 years old, has disposable income, and cares about sneakers as a fashion item rather than a functional one.  Finish Line is always monitoring their data to refine Jake’s profile, and this persona is what their strategy is built upon.  The celebrities and the music that appear in their videos and commercials are chosen for their appeal to Jake.  Social media strategy is geared towards Jake.  The in-store experience is built for Jake.   This point was made well at our luncheon, as no one in the IndyAMA audience that day had Jake’s profile – thus no one recognized the celebrity for Finish Line’s newest commercial! (Hopefully Michael hadn’t planned to sell the audience sneakers that day.)

In concluding his presentation, Michael summarized that Finish Line “Delivers the Epic Finish” via brand differentiation, their media plan placement, and their campaign platform, all of which are constantly monitored for effectiveness.