Category Archives: Marketing

No Medium is an Island

Isn’t print dying? Marketing dollars are all flowing online, right? These are samples of things I hear on occasion when I tell people we’re creating a brand called the Community Magazine Network. I’m big on prefaces so here’s mine: a magazine is both a medium and a story telling technique, generally they are one in the same and reside on paper but that will not always be the case. As a result, the word in our brand that I focus most on is Community.

All that being said, I was flipping through Inc Magazine (turning pages not swiping on a digital device) and what did I see? A print ad from… GOOGLE! Google is the company that prints money from it’s online ad network (oh, they do let you buy ads in other mediums too but that’s beside the point for now). There ad has a call to action that requires readers to go online, you can see you get a $75 trial so it’s a compelling offer for new customers.

What’s the lesson here? Digital is powerful but can’t do everything. The very first marketing class I took at APU talked about the importance of Integrated Marketing Communications and I buy into it. The premise is simple and extends the Reach x Frequency concept to say, you want action get your message in front of your target audience as much as possible and in as many (relevant) ways as possible. That means that brands need a diversified approach that includes a variety of mediums and messages.

Wouldn’t you know it but empirical research has shown that magazines drive web traffic and search more than other mediums. The key in all mediums is contextually presenting your message to the right group of people knowing that if done right the cumulative effect will have a whole that is greater than the sum of it’s parts.

You’re not the customer!

A common theme in MBA marketing courses is that you, the marketer, are not the customer. The idea is that you need to validate your messaging, medium, and even product with the customer to ensure you’re doing things correctly. After all, you may be a 30-year old product manager for a product targeted at baby-boomers. Or you may be responsible for selling a gender-specific product to the opposite sex. In these cases you clearly are not qualified to act as a proxy for the customer.

But what about in a startup?

I tend to think that the best opportunities are those you uncover because you feel the pain yourself and the startup is your way of relieving that pain. This is clearly a generalization and even if you are the customer you’re not able to speak on behalf of every customer but as an entrepreneur with finite resources sometimes your best course of action is to build and market a product you’d want to use yourself.

So, you tell me. When is the best time to figure things out internally and when does it make more sense to go outside the company to find the answer?