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Which Medium or Channel Is Right for Your Marketing?

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If you know what you’re trying to do (your mission), who you’re talking to (your market), and what you’re trying to say (your message), it’s time to choose a medium for connecting with potential customers. 

Discussing which channels would be right for your business — and how to use them — could be the subject of its own book, so it’s tough to squeeze this topic into an Internet article. But I can offer you some direction for how to get started.

Typically, people think marketing begins at the medium. They ask, “Should I start using Facebook ads? Do I need a blog? Should I create an Instagram profile? Do I need to build an email list?”

These are important questions. The key to answering them lies in the work you’ve already done.

How to Find Out Where Your Customers Are

If you have an idea who your potential customers might be, you can also guess where they might be found. Based on your target market and avatar, you have at least a rough sense of what they can afford, what they care about, what their hobbies are, and where they like to shop.

So, you tell me: Is your avatar the kind of person who would spend a lot of time on certain social media sites? Which ones, and why? Do they represent businesses or are they buying for themselves? Do they attend particular conferences or events? What other businesses do they already buy from that you could partner with to sell your product?

Not only that, but your marketing approach will depend on the type of product you sell. Is your product the kind that people need to hear about from their friends, or would they be more likely to use a search engine to find it? 

Based on the price point and the complexity of the product, how much information or interaction might a person need in order to make a purchase? Do they need to book an appointment or call with you to learn more and purchase, or can they purchase directly from your website, your store, or a retailer?

If you have a clue about what your avatar reads, listens to, or watches — or what other places they visit, whether physical or digital — you have a clue about where to advertise. Testing is critical. Go broad on advertising before you go deep. If you have success with a podcast ad but not with Instagram ads, you know where to focus your attention and marketing dollars.

Go narrow with social media and then expand (if it makes sense). It’s better to have a thriving Twitter account and nothing else than to be barely posting on several different platforms. You may want to secure usernames or handles for your brand across platforms just in case, but don’t feel the pressure to be everywhere at once. And when it comes to being found online, SEO is not for the faint of heart. 

If you choose to invest in content marketing, educate yourself on best practices, or else you’ll get disappointed fast — and waste a lot of time and effort.

If you ever lose your way, find out what your competitors are doing and study their approach. Emulate what they’re doing, then think about ways to expand your reach beyond theirs.

Prioritizing Channels By Value

As a rule, any medium or channel where you can acquire contact information (with permission) takes precedence over one where you can’t acquire contact information. For that reason, email tends to be more valuable than social media platforms. Social media marketing may be more effective for your brand, but don’t neglect the chance to collect email addresses or phone numbers whenever possible. 

All contact information should be volunteered to you by your leads or customers and kept safe. If you buy or abuse information, you’ll annoy or repel your target market, impeding your ability to make a lasting connection with them. (You may also run aground of spam and privacy laws.)

It can be easy to get obsessed with the numbers — followers, fans, visitors, viewers, readers, listeners, etc. And while you want to keep those numbers trending up, engagement trumps volume every time. An email list of 300 engaged subscribers beats an unengaged list of 3,000. It won’t matter if they’re following you if they don’t pay attention to you. 

Begin by paying attention to them — providing helpful advice, responding to comments, and posting content they would be interested in (that doesn’t promote your product). You’ll have greater opportunities to promote your products when you genuinely sympathize with your customers’ problems and interests.

Be Patient… and Listen to Your Target Market

If your brand is new, choose a medium and sit in the market for a little while. As you engage with others, take note of the culture and atmosphere. Care about what your target market cares about. Campaigns will form naturally, and your audience may even begin asking you for solutions. Remember to ask questions and request feedback. Let them know you’re listening, and they’ll start talking. 

Connect with your target market’s values, stay focused on their desired transformation, then introduce the world to your products.

This is an edited excerpt from my book Mission, Market, Message: The Actionable Guide to Marketing for Small Business Owners, which you can purchase on Amazon.