An article I just read in Time Magazine prompted me to blog, as it is one of those pieces that, well, I wish that I had written! The gist of it is that there is no better time than now to understand and act on your customers’ use of the Web and your traditional “channels” of messaging, communications, and commerce.

The author of the article makes a few great points about how the combination of the economic crisis – which clearly effects consumption and consumption patterns – and the consumers’ reliance on the Web for information and purchases, makes it critical to embrace and act on this sea change.

Ever since I tried to get Home Depot interested in allowing consumers to shop online and pick-up their purchases in-store, I’ve recognized the opportunity afforded to us by strategically leveraging the Web and traditional retail environments. And as my former colleague Jerome Nadel will tell you, the opportunities in Financial Services are just as great, and perhaps, even more daunting. Regardless of the business that you are in however, I assure you, there are cross-channel strategies that you can employ. Which raises the question of “what to do?”

A complex answer, but in the space of this blog post, I can offer a few ideas:

    Talk to your customers, find out how they are researching and consuming your goods/services – across all channels.
    Take a channel inventory, you may have too few or too many. Change the mix if necessary.
    Establish baseline cross-channel metrics so that you can set goals for the optimized state.
    Consider how you are communicating with consumers within and across the channels they use and modify your communications to meet their needs.
    Optimize your messaging and offerings across all channels.
    Review results based on your goals.
    Iterate across channels to ensure that you continue to meet customer’s needs.
    Above all, consider the short and long term implications of all of the above. Focus on the “low hanging fruit” so that you can move quickly and go from there.

There is no better time than now to invest in cross-channel strategies. And regardless of how you choose to proceed, I would suggest that you either embrace cross-channel or get in line for the next bailout.

What do you think? Any great cross-channel success stories out there to be shared?