So Much Focus on the Medium, Don’t Forget the Message

Posted: June 27, 2011
Written by: Paul Entin
Category: Marketing

Many marketing professionals obsess about finding the ideal mix of advertising, direct mail, publicity, social media, email, TV and other media - the “media mix” per advertising textbooks. Certainly, it’s effective to use several different channels but many of these marketers seem so focused on the medium and the ratio that they forget about the message – they forget the reason for all of their pondering, theorizing and calculating is to deliver a sales message.

When faced with lackluster response they conclude, “advertising doesn’t work,” or “direct mail doesn’t work, we tried that.” “Next time, we’ll focus a higher percentage on publicity,” for example. It’s easier to blame low response on the decline of print media readership, the use of email spam filters or on the consumers’ short attention spans than it is to blame the strength (or weakness) of the message.

If the case for the product/service is so strong that it’s worth manufacturing and/or selling then maybe it wasn’t presented or described as effectively as it could have been. Maybe the message wasn't integrated or leveraged effectively across the multiple channels. Many marketers overlook that a wide variety of different factors beyond the media mix affect the response rate and that the method of message delivery is but one of these factors, despite the disproportionate amount of attention it’s often given. Consider these other factors:

  • Does the product/service meet a need?
  • Does the message clearly solve that need?
  • Does the visual design capture attention and support delivery of the sales message?
  • Does the copywriting hold attention and lead to a response?
  • Is the message being delivered to the right audience?

Imagine a financial planner obsessing about the ideal asset allocation ratio among stocks, bonds and cash. It isn’t enough to conclude that 50 percent of assets need to be in stocks. To be successful, the planner needs to know in which stocks. For marketers, it isn’t enough to conclude that the budget needs to be allocated among different channels by a given ratio. There’s more to it than that. Marketing success demands the right message is delivered to the right audience with the right presentation at the right time. And that’s true whether the message is delivered by advertising, direct mail, publicity, Facebook or any other channel.




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