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Changing the channel: How to choose the right medium for your marketing message

Derek Smith // March 26, 2019

Bottle with Paper inside in the Middle of a Creek

We live in a world filled with communications channels. From the moment we wake up to the moment our head hits the pillow at night, we’re bombarded with phone calls, texts, emails, and advertisements. When we’re at work, we’re faced with decisions about how we should communicate internally. Should a new office update be conveyed on Slack, email, text message, or in a face-to-face meeting?

Our customers have their favored communications channels as well. Some love their PowerPoint presentations, while others can’t do without their print brochures. Still others have a digital-first mindset and are all about display ads, emails, and paid social.

So the question becomes: with so many communications channels at our disposal, how should we go about choosing the right medium to convey each marketing message? By knowing our audience like nobody’s business, knowing our budget, and being crystal clear on what we’re trying to accomplish—and how to measure it. If we ask ourselves the right questions, we just might find that our favorite channels aren’t necessarily the best ones to reach our audience and compel them to action.

The method to the message

First of all, your message and how you convey it is just one aspect of your marketing strategy. Check out the 8 questions you should ask before writing your marketing strategy; just one of them involves figuring out your positioning and messaging.

When it comes to figuring out where to present your message, you first need to have a solid understanding of your audience. Don’t make the mistake of trying to be everything to everyone. Rather, invest in really knowing your audience segments through online surveys, phone interviews, or even observations of them using your products. Listen closely to what they say about you, how they buy your products, what they do and don’t like about the buying process, and what they say about your competitors.

Then use these insights to develop customer personas that give your marketing team a deep understanding of who they’re communicating with—an understanding that covers not just their roles and responsibilities, but also their pain points, behaviors, and attitudes. Uncover what motivates them and what they aspire to, and you’re well on your way to crafting the right message.

Get the lay of the landscape

You might already have a good grasp of what your competitors are saying, but it never hurts to spend some time considering their current positioning. Moat is a great tool for quickly evaluating digital ads; just type a competitor’s name into the search bar. You can also browse the home page and a couple of key product pages on their website to get a sense of how your competitors are positioning themselves. I also like to download a few brochures to reference later if I can do it without filling out a form.

Enter the messaging matrix

With a firm understanding of your customer personas, you can develop a messaging matrix that:

  • Outlines how your products and services help these personas solve their problems.
  • Communicates what differentiates your products in the marketplace.
  • Describes your unique brand positioning.
  • Describes your main product benefits with supporting messages for each benefit.
  • Includes some proof points or reasons to believe what you’re saying.

Your messaging matrix can also include your elevator pitch, which is a short verbal summary of who you are and what your company does—and, more importantly, why someone should care.

Once you’ve created your messaging matrix, you can draw from it when you craft your messages for specific channels.

Turn to the right channel

Okay, we’ve covered your audience, what your competitors are saying, and what you’re going to say. Now, where should you say it? Well, you need to meet people where they are. Your audience research should uncover where your personas go for business information—places like professional conferences, trade association websites, LinkedIn groups, industry forums, and niche publications.

BuzzSumo is a useful tool for getting additional ideas; it allows you to see the most shared content and key influencers for a given topic. You can see a list of the most shared content, including Facebook engagements, Twitter shares, number of links, total engagements and more. Search some relevant topics in your industry and look for trends. What channels are generating the greatest engagement?

You’re also going to want to think about the goal of your marketing campaign. For example, if your goal is conversions, you might want to invest in paid search so you can target people who are intently searching for terms relevant to your brand.

You’ll make your marketing dollars stretch farther by choosing a mix of channels where you know your audience hangs out—without trying to be everywhere.

Track and yield

Marketing channels are constantly changing. New mediums emerge and existing ones rise and fall in popularity. So you’ll need to use analytics to track your results and adjust which channels you’re using over time. Platforms like HubSpot make it easy to track the sources of your inbound leads and see where you’re getting the best return on your marketing investment.

Don’t be afraid to test different channels or new ways to convey your message. Maybe your audience loves that hot new social network, or maybe they couldn’t care less. So test that new channel if you’re so inclined—just don’t lose sight of the channels where you know your audience actually is.

 

Derek Smith Team Photo at Element Three

Derek Smith's skills as a reporter serve him well as a senior writer here at Element Three – and if you need a coach for your soccer team, he's got you covered. He's worked as a content strategist as well as a copywriter, so he's always thinking about the why behind every word and every piece of every campaign.