Understanding Media Options

I’ve been teaching a course at a local college called “Understanding Mass Media,” which inspired  me to share with you all the various media options and channels you have for communicating with and marketing to your target/prospective customers.

In the marketing world, “the media” refers to any marketing communications channels or vehicles. It can be what are known as the “traditional” media — newspapers, magazines, radio and television — or what we consider to be the “new” media — social media, blogs and other social/online channels. When people think about using social media for business marketing, they typically focus on Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter (and they should use these channels, as appropriate), but there are so many more media channels to consider, both online and off. I’m going to give you a quick rundown of possible media options and how best to use them.

Traditional Media

To make good use of newspapers, magazines, radio or television as a communications channel, you would do one or both of the following:

  1. Conduct public relations /media relations, pitching media outlets your news and story ideas and building relationships with the media contacts with the goal of getting coverage; or
  2. Place advertisements with these media outlets.

The latter can be pricey, depending on where and how often you place your ad. To conduct media relations effectively, you should hire a PR consultant or agency to perform the media outreach for you, unless you have the time and confidence to do it yourself. A PR professional will have the expertise to successfully pitch your news and story to the media and get you the media coverage you desire.

Social/Online Media

The trick to making the most of social media is to not only have a great looking presence but also post to it on a regular basis with content your followers will find valuable and will drive them to your website.

In addition to the usual suspects mentioned above, I highly recommend looking into using these social/online channels:

Google My Business – This Google vehicle will enable you to get more of a presence in their search engine and search results. Like Facebook and LinkedIn, you would create a profile on your business and post to it on a regular basis.

YouTube – Videos are a hot communications vehicle these days and you can create them rather inexpensively (especially if you create them yourself). By creating a channel for your business’s videos on YouTube, you further help your business get found in searches as well as convey your message and provide an engaging visual of your company. Your videos should also be posted on your website or blog and across all your social media channels.  

SlideShare – This site is a hosting service that offers the opportunity to post your business’s content, specifically presentations but also marketing documents, videos and infographics. You can upload your files privately, using the site as a repository for exclusive content for your customers or partners, or you can share your documents with the public (whether they are in Word, PDF, PowerPoint or the OpenDocument format).

Instagram – It’s not just for kids anymore. More and more businesses are tapping into this social media site’s increasing popularity. You can post photos, videos and artwork, show off your uniqueness and present your visual, creative and more human side.

Other Media Channels

Email Campaigns/Newsletters – You don’t want to start spamming people, but if you have developed a database of contacts who have opted in on the promise of receiving valuable content (for example, via a sign-up on your website for a newsletter or more info), then you want to deliver. Keep your emails non-salesy and focused on informing and educating your audience while also offering them a high-value piece of content that will draw them to your website seeking more.

Direct Mail – Many businesses still use and find success with direct mail campaigns. However, you want to ensure you are targeting the right audience, using a message and creative that will capture their attention and offering something valuable that will serve as a call-to-action.

Promotional Products – One way you can help increase brand awareness and get your message across the market is through distribution of products with your company name, brand and message on them. Via trade shows, speaking engagements, etc., you can giveaway simple products such as mugs or more highly valued products such as t-shirts, jackets, hats and tote bags. Your target audience will appreciate the thoughtfulness of the gift (while they’re providing that “free” advertising for you), which can help keep you top of mind with them.

Don’t Forget Your Website!

You website is a media channel, and it’s a big online channel that you can leverage optimally through SEO, having an active blog, social media and other inbound marketing and digital marketing tactics.  

Choosing the Right Media

Of course, you’re not going to use all the media channels mentioned above. First of all, who has the budget for that? What you want to do is use the media channels that will best convey your message and reach your target market (more specifically, your target customers). By doing your research on which media channels will work best for you and using those channels as optimally as possible, you should see an uptick in results from your marketing efforts.