The medium is the message

Crafting an effective, multiplatform marketing strategy

By Christine Clancy, Group Managing Editor, Prime Creative Media

It’s been more than half a century since the Canadian Academic Marshall McLuhan coined his now-famous catchphrase “the medium is the message”. His logic came at a time when household televisions were arriving on the scene, and people were trying to understand how they would affect the printed word.

Fast-forward to 2016, and the introduction of the web, electronic newsletters, and social media have added yet another layer of complexity to Marshall’s theory that the nature of the medium will ultimately affect how information is understood. Marketers in the B2B environment need to understand the nature of these media, and what messages fit best with each platform.

Here is our simplified guide on how to practically apply Marshall’s theory in today’s media environment.

Print – “Help me learn and understand”

Research continues to prove that no matter how we improve our digital products, people remember and understand more when they read printed information.

It turns out that flipping through pages of books and magazines is very important for how we absorb information.

Companies looking to include storytelling or content marketing in their plans need to keep this front-of-mind. To inform your reader through content, try to do it in print. You will increase your chances of them remembering your brand and information.

Video – “Entertain me”

The human brain processes video 60,000 times faster than text. This is why it’s easier to watch a movie than read a book. As a result, because the brain is working less, people remember less when they see something on video.

What film is best at is tapping into emotion. “When we watch a video, we become immersed in it and create an empathetic connection with the screen,” writes Psychology Today. Any company planning on making a video should ensure that it’s entertaining and appeals to human emotion. Use this medium to improve your brand’s perception by association.

Electronic Newsletters – “Make me act”

According to research by MarketingSherpa, most people spend 15 – 20 seconds reading through an email on average. This means that anything included in an electronic direct mail (eDM) needs to immediately grab the reader’s attention. In this way, direct emails are great branding exercises, while also presenting an opportunity to get your message or brand delivered straight to a person’s inbox. They can be seen at the gateway to action, as a way to guide potential buyers to your web site, or to make enquiries on purchases.

Social Media – “Make me like you”

On the surface, the saturation of social media use makes it an appealing marketing channel. But a closer look at usage habits makes it less attractive in the B2B space. The 2015 Sensis Social Media Report confirmed that 92% of Australians use social networking sites mainly to catch up with friends. This means that B2B companies on social media are trying to compete with personal posts – a battle that won’t easily be won.

The only way to properly use social media in a B2B marketing strategy is to embrace the social element. Brands prepared to invest heavily in developing personalities and winning friends online may be able to translate that work into more clients over time. But the real action will come through other marketing channels.

Web Sites – “Help me find you”

Despite modern efforts of social media and paid searches, organic searches – people actively looking for products and information via Google and coming across your site – continues to dominate traffic sources. A study by BrightEdge found organic search drives 71% of traffic to business services sites. Paid search drives less than 10%, and social less than 5%. This confirms why B2B companies shouldn’t invest too much – if anything – in paid search. Well-crafted, multi-platform marketing campaigns are the only way to attract clients throughout the full buyer’s journey.