The Medium is not the Message

When I had a marketing agency, one of the most frequent mistakes I saw companies make was to plan their communications around the medium.

Let me illustrate, by quoting several client briefs:

“We want a Facebook campaign.”

“Please quote for providing PR to launch this new service.”

“I’d like to update our company brochure.”

In response to each of these, (and hundreds of similar examples), I always asked ten questions that more often than not caused the client to ask us to produce something else using a completely different medium.

1. What’s your desired result?
2. What’s that worth?
3. What are the consequences (if you achieve/don’t achieve)?
4. Who are the target audience(s)?
5. What do they currently think, feel and do?
6. What do you want them to think, feel and do?
7. What’s your personality?
8. What’s your story?
9. What’s your one big thing?
10. What are the benefits of your one big thing?

Only after these 10 questions have been fully answered should you then consider the most effective medium to communicate your message.

What’s prompted this subject for today’s four-i is the use, actually make that abuse, of video. Every day I’m seeing agents and suppliers alike churning out videos that are not just poorly produced but lack any editing and worse are misdirected (i.e. have no obvious target audience in mind) nor seemingly a clear desired result. You don’t need to use video for everything or indeed anything – the medium is not the message – the same is true for Facebook, Instagram, Twitter – everything! Before embarking on any communication, answer the 10 questions and you’ll end up being far more effective by having the right message and the right medium for the right audience.

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