Story Telling

During a recent meeting with a partner we were discussing the shifts in media, the rise of social media, our thoughts on a print resurgence and more when I realized – it’s about the story, not the channel. With apologies to Marshall McLuhan, the medium is NOT the message. Yes, the medium influences how you deliver your message, but crafting a story that takes the buyer on the journey from awareness to purchase is key.

Think about it, as prospects become aware of and eventually consider and purchase your products they need different types of information. At the early stages they’re becoming family with your product and perhaps your company. Are you reputable? Do you have good quality? Are you priced right? Then as they move into selection they’re evaluating whether this product or service will meet their needs. Will it fit? Does it function like they want? Is it available in their favorite color? The story can even extend into repeat purchases (the best kind of customers) where they had still more needs for information. Have you improved the product or service? How? Does this present any challenges? Any benefits? Is it still affordable?

Whether you’re using advanced tactics like Twitter, or tried-and-true modes like print advertising or direct mail, spend some time thinking about your story BEFORE you invest a lot of time considering media channels. The story may even suggest the channel.

Balanced Diet

With the tightening economy and increased focus on ROI, we’re seeing a number of folks forget that integrated marketing is a real response to buyer behavior. Potential buyers make a journey from awareness to consideration to purchase. And they use media differently at every stage. So when you’re tempted to shift your entire spend into one channel, think about your own behavior as a buyer.

For me, sometimes I find things through online searches. Other times as a result of an e-mail. But when I form an impression of a company, it’s primarily driven by ads in magazines. I find that I only move online when I’m in the process of consideration. And, I tend to gravitate to the brands I have a positive association with.

The exception is really, really niche products. The SUPER small companies who make some sort of specialized gear that’s not available anywhere else. I’m talking left-handed springs for Ross fly reels made before 1987. For that oddball stuff, I go right to search engines, or sometimes forums.

The point is that different buyers consume different media in different ways. And those ways change as they move toward purchase. If you put all your focus into one channel, then you miss all the others. You could eat steak all the time, and it’s tasty, but it’s not a good idea. Balance is healthy, in diet and marketing.