Yep, it’s the middle of the summer and I am about to take some time off. But that’s not exactly what this post is about. It’s about making sure that no matter what time of year it is, you use the right message distribution technique for what you are offering.
In the old days, this was called “media planning and strategy.” And, unfortunately, in most cases people don’t really think beyond the tactical when it comes to media planning and message distribution. Many will focus on the more tactical considerations such as do they skew their budget to digital vs print and broadcast? Do they invest in email or launch a PPC campaign? They might say, ‘we’ll measure it on the backend and adjust accordingly.’ All widely-used tactics, but they don’t constitute a proper message distribution strategy. Its not their fault, because the data has overwhelmed the message distribution decision making process. Data is good, don’t get me wrong, but it shouldn’t be the sole determinant of what message distribution strategy to take. You have to align it with your target’s decision making process as well as your competitive advantages.
Now if you will indulge me, let me expand on the fishing analogy and how it illustrates the three basic media strategies that can work for you. Just keep in mind that good message distribution factors in two of the three “R”s in a communication strategy: the right person, and the right time. I think we know why it’s important to reach the right person at the right time — the closer you can get to a person who is on the verge of making a purchase decision, the more likely you’re able to register a conversion or a sale. Asking me to buy your suntan lotion while I’m in a meeting is an example of what you don’t want to do.
Okay, here we go with the fishing strategies:
Bait Fishing. What that basically means is that you figure out what your main messages are as you scan the water and paddle out to where you believe the fish are gathering. You drop your line there with the hope that the fish are going to buy. This technique has been used for literally decades prior to the explosion of digital media, but it’s still an effective strategy. And in some cases, it’s still important because regardless of how precise your communications efforts are, you still benefit from less intentional, more casual consumers. These are the consumers who didn’t think they were in the marketplace for, let’s say, a pair of shoes, but saw an ad for a nice pair and decided they wanted them. In some cases, 20 to 30 percent of all purchases can come from this type of consumer, so, they shouldn’t be written out of the equation when you develop your marketing and communications plans.
Net Fishing. This is where you put a net across a stream and catch whatever crosses the net’s path. What you catch depends on where you place the net and the size of the net’s openings. This technique is good for any organization that has data and information on their target audience, related to life stage or lifecycle – academia, for example. Most academic institutions seeking to recruit students cast a net across whatever communication stream they use, and set it to capture as many students in a certain age group as they can. Another group that can benefit from net fishing is one that has a symbiotic relationship with another product or service. The best example I can think of is car insurance. If I buy a car, I’m going to need car insurance. Net fishing is the most efficient message distribution strategy because it allows you to target audiences at the right time. If you can, you might want to deploy this strategy in place of what you are using now.
Spear Fishing. This works best for organizations that cater to very specific audiences. Think of the scuba diver who targets one particular fish. Many nonprofit organizations and those that sell luxury goods use this technique. For spear fishing to be successful, an organization needs to have detailed information on what constitutes the perfect target and needs to make sure the message delivery mechanism allows delivery of specific criteria. A bevy of software programs exist that can help you figure out if someone is qualified to be one of your customers and worth the time and effort it takes. Social media advertising is another way of executing this strategy, but it has its limits. While social media advertising can target the audience, the message can get muddled in a cluttered social media environment. The most effective delivery of this message strategy is in a more personal, one-on-one conversation. For a school which is identifying a very qualified student, or for a non-profit which has profiled a candidate, it pays to pitch them personally.
So, you can see, if I put up a sign on my door that says, “I’ve gone fishing” it doesn’t necessarily mean I’m idle. It may mean I’m figuring out how to get you more qualified leads and manage your relationship with customers and prospects.
As always, if you have your own thoughts or want to let me know what you think, feel free to reach out to me at firstname.lastname@example.org