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Parallels between Omni-Channel and Onam : A new outlook

September 10, 2019

First things, first. What is omni-channel?

Omni-channel is a multi-channel approach to marketing, engaging customers in a relevant way.

The result is an integrated and cohesive customer experience irrespective of the customer touchpoint.

Onam is the legendary harvest festival of the Southern state of India, Kerala, celebrated with much pomp and pleasure across the state.

For those of you familiar with Onam, what are some of the images that come to mind?

Flower carpet
Flower carpet


Ona Sadya - union of tastes - omnichannel


Boat race - the strength of team work
Boat Race


Tug-of-war and Omni-channel share the same concept

Let’s get it right. This article is not about Onam Marketing.

It’s not about tricks and tips to reach your audience during the most popular shopping season in the state of Kerala.

Rather, this is an attempt to look at omni-channel marketing and draw parallels with Onam, the best cultural representation of Malayalees around the world.

Look at the Onam images listed above. There is ONE common factor that runs through all of them.

  • It’s the one big factor in digital marketing.
  • It’s the biggest differentiator that marketing automation offers your brand.
  • It’s the modern marketer’s mantra for brand success.
  • It’s one of the best ways to engage your customers and prospects in today’s multi-device, multi-channel day and age.

What is it?

  • It’s the beauty in togetherness. In other words,
  • It’s about making sense of multiple entities coming together.
  • It’s about unity in diversity.
  • It’s about meaning in multiplicity.

Let’s take them one by one.

A flower carpet, fondly called ‘athapookkalam’, is a coming together of multiple units.

Flower carpet -omnichannel

It’s a veritable blast of colour but if done correctly, can be a feast to the eyes.

With a thought-through design and strategy in place, carefully picked and sorted flowers and foliage, and a well-orchestrated execution, the flower carpet sends across the same, unified message to its audiences.

The messages can be as diverse as world peace to the co-existence of faiths to depictions of beauty and culture.

 Let’s look at the Ona-Sadya or the feast.

How can one ever forget the culinary harmony on a fresh banana leaf?

Onam feast omnichannel
Traditional Onam sadya served in banana leaf

From salty to sweet, from sour to spicy, from thin to thick gravies, from smooth to textured curries, from the pristine pink Kerala rice to the riot of colours on a green banana leaf. Doesn’t the cohesiveness amaze you?

The Ona-Sadya is a perfect example of unity in diversity. Of making sense of multiple entities coming together to create meaning.

If you analyse the Onam-feast in detail, there is a pre-defined strategy in place. It’s not a random throwing in of dishes or ideas. Every single item that goes onto the banana leaf has been thought-through and has evolved over the years. It’s a time-tested medley of tastes that has worked its magic over generations. It has travelled across the seas and around the globe. It has come to be a part of the Keralite’s DNA.

But to make sense out of it, one must know the details. What goes in first? What’s the order of serving dishes? Does one go from left to right, or, right to left? Do you serve salt or sweet first? And, what do you finish it with?

If done correctly, the Ona Sadya leaves a lasting impression not only gastronomically but also neurologically- the pleasure of a well- made Sadya is wired deep in the neurons.

What’s the secret of winning a tug-of-war?

Tug-of-war and Omni-channel share the same concept

All the right forces in the right direction, at the right time, can make a big difference.

If you have been part of a tug-of-war, you know what matters. A pre-conceived strategy that is communicated seamlessly to all members of the team can help one win.

What else? Flawless execution of the strategy by unifying efforts across the rope is important too.

A tug-of-war team may have diverse people, of all ages and strengths.

But it’s possible to script a success strategy, keeping all the differences in mind.

The above observations are true for the famed Snake boat races too.

Boat race - the strength of team work Omnichannel

Acclaimed as the sport with the largest number of team members in the world, it throws open multiple challenges concurrently.

Each rower rises up to the challenge and plays their part well, to a dot as outlined in the team strategy.

The final race is a culmination of months if not years of practice, of harmonious rowing and pushing each other to do their part to the best of their ability.

What is common across the above cultural elements that make Onam a grand festival – one that appeals to the heart and mind, to the multiple senses and generations?

That different entities can co-exist in total harmony! All at the same time.

Irrespective of differences, togetherness can certainly be peaceful and can yield the desired results.

Isn’t it all the same for an omni-channel experience too?

There is a pre-conceived strategy in place.

One that is based on your audiences or users. One that is rooted in the deep knowledge and awareness about their digital habits. One that has the required know-how about their digital touch points.

There are multiple devices and channels at play. Based on user behaviour, an omni-channel strategy assigns meaningful attributes to them that helps target them in a relevant and powerful way.

Omni-channel is a multi-channel sales approach that provides the user or customer an integrated experience. The idea is to provide the customer a seamless experience irrespective of the time or place of the interaction.

Omni-channel assures a smooth experience to the customer across channels and time. An omni-channel strategy ensures the customer gets a unified, cohesive experience whether or not the customer is visiting the brand website or checking email on the desktop or a mobile device.

Isn’t this a multi-channel experience? No.

There is a fundamental difference.

A brand may have a great mobile marketing experience coupled with an engaging social media and a flawless website.

However, it’s not necessary that they work together. When a brand uses multiple channels, but don’t orchestrate them to work together, it stays ‘multi-channel.’

Here’s a visual depiction of omni-channel vs multi-channel:

Omni-channel marketing

Brands that use omni-channel strategy align their messaging, goals, objectives, and design across each channel and device.

If you are keen to use an omni-channel marketing, then seamlessly integrate the various communication channels that you use to engage your customers.

Keep in mind your customers’ perspectives and interests to optimize the consistency of the company’s marketing messages.

In short, an omni-channel approach has the customer at the centre of the strategy. It begins with the customer at its core.

Omni-channel is one of cmercury’s pillars. Its predictive/ AI layer helps you with accurate customer targeting across channels and devices.

Using cmercury omni-channel capabilities, you can now create a more holistic and contextual user experience leading to a cohesive, integrated brand experience for the user.

What better time than this Onam season to consider an Omni-channel strategy for your brand?

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