How Digital Tips the Marketing Balance

Dec 08
Mind Map of Media Plan Options

Mind Map of Media Plan Options

Mind Maps Help Create
A Balanced Media Mix

I recently discovered Mind Node, an app that allows you to create a mind map on any topic. Mind maps are great tools for visualizing information and when I did a sample mind map on Media planning, the results on the left, made it instantly clear why digital marketing can be so overwhelming for business and marketing people. It’s a quantity versus quality issue.

The shear and growing size of the innumerable digital and social media choices — shown in blue and green on the left side of the chart —  is  daunting. Traditional media is shown on the right side of the chart in yellow and lime green. The broadcast node (bottom right in lime green) has four elements — Television, Cable, Radio and Pandora. Pandora, or more correctly satellite radio, could  arguably be included in the radio node, pruning broadcast down to 3 nodes versus the 8 and growing nodes under social media.

One of the best books ever written on media planning is Sissors and Baron’s Advertising Media Planning, now in its 7th edition. As the book notes, digital advertising really began in 1995 with Yahoo!, and now, less than 10 years later, digital option nodes already outweigh traditional media options.

It’s important to note that social media was not developed as an advertising medium, but increasingly with revenue pressures and opportunities looming large, first Facebook and now LinkedIn and Twitter have developed advertising options. Hence, advertising complexity has increased in direct relationship to the growth of advertising choices.

Marketing is far more than advertising, so the complexity in marketing is even more exponential. Marketing people have embraced and need to be literate in each medium, and the subsequent learning curve can be overwhelming. When you look at the mind map, is it little wonder that business people cannot handle their own social media, and that most marketing departments also are not staffed up to meet the challenge?

In fairness, to some degree the challenges were always great even with traditional media. For instance, the newspaper node in 2011 represents 1,382 daily newspapers , according to Editor & Publisher, an industry trade magazine. Although newspapers adopted Standard Advertising Units (SAUs)  to make sizes more uniform across papers, paper sizes still vary and each newspaper has its  own rate structures, deals and combo packages. Due to the number of papers, many agencies and media planners opt to buy newspaper space  through centralized buying services, and many newspaper groups such as the New Jersey Press Association have set up a one stop buying service for papers in the Garden State, PA and NY. Now imagine putting together a national campaign and one that includes much more than papers!

Putting together a media budget is a true reach and frequency jig saw puzzle with infinite options. What’s the budget? How many people do you want to reach? How often and consistent can you afford to reach them?

Add to this that social media is so much more than advertising. It is about audience engagement, growth, interaction with advertising simply as a side note. A great Facebook marketing person needs to understand contest rules, have familiarity with some third-party services or apps, understand Facebook advertising, have a reputation or monitoring service, know Facebook analytics, and that’s just to name a few skill sets.

I could argue all those skill sets were also always critical in traditional mass media, except that mass media marketers just didn’t know it at the time. Still, the mind map does what it’s supposed to do:

  1. Visually show us how all elements are needed in a  true integrated plan
  2. Show how the digital side is growing out of proportion to traditional media
  3. Indicate the increasing complexity needed in modern media planning

A Take-away: Don’t spread yourself too thin. No one can be an expert in everything. Use a mind map in your own strategic planning to determine the elements most critical to your success and the resources need to be great at those few elements. It’s fair to say most marketing departments are not staffed well enough to any one node well, much less all of them.


In News Marketing Cont_ _t Matters

May 16

Read the phrase Cont_ _t Matters.  How did you fill in the blanks?  If you’re like most news people, you’ll see the word “Content” because it’s been beaten into your head. And it’s where we’ve strayed as news organizations, because content was always our strong point. We didn’t need to learn something we already knew and something that had long been our unique selling proposition. Content Does Matter. But it’s not all that matters.

Journalists are trained from Day 1 in J-school that content matters. And if journalists weren’t steeped enough in tradition and silo’ed thinking, the onslaught of social media hasn’t helped. The social media drum beat consistently repeats that “content matters.”  It’s an important drum beat for the average blogger, tweeter and poster because, unlike journalists, they tend not to understand content and post everything from spammy sales pitches to this morning’s breakfast menu.

In contrast, news posts on Twitter and Facebook tend to be shortened headlines and more shortened headlines and more shortened headlines. It’s content on steroids. If the goal is to drive freeloading traffic to news websites, they’ve succeeded. But if the goal is to create community, they’ve failed.

Social media is just another marketing channel and as such should be treated with due marketing respect. This means that in addition to content, two other words need to be considered – ConTEXT and ConTACT.  With context, the market wants to know “Why they should care.” And, with contact, they want to know why they should trust you as the source.

This last piece is critical to understanding why the industry has lost credibility. A 2011 Pew study in September 2011 found that “75% of Americans say journalists can’t get their facts straight.” 1 With readers and audiences losing trust in legitimate news sources, it’s hard for marketing folks to put out ads with taglines such as “Your Trusted Source,” or “News You Can Trust” and yet those are the slogans you continue to see around the country.

There are likely many reasons why trust levels are falling, but at least one is the failure to build community, or ConTACT. It’ s the industry’s true weakness.In the desire to be objective, we’ve failed to connect. We appear uncaring and aloof. We judge political stories as more important than high school plays, and good news as less valuable than hard news, an increasingly couched term for news of bad events.

And this is where news marketing plays a key role. Of all departments in a standard news organization, it’s marketing that goes out into the market to participate in events, listen to the voice of the customer, and manage community service programs. Without marketing, Content is not balanced with Contact, and without key touchpoints to keep customers and readers engaged, Content loses Context and Trustworthiness.  It’s no longer coming from a good friend or neighbor.






How Newspapers Became Mass Media

May 16

Did you ever consider that newspapers were the original targeted media? In fact, it was so accepted that newspapers were targeted that most felt USA Today was insane to believe it could be a national (read mass marketed) newspaper when it launched in 1982.

Today, many believe the Internet is leading the way to the demise of the newspaper. In fact, all the Internet has done is what USA Today attempted to do – reposition newspapers as mass media in an increasingly micro-niched world.

While many business moguls might have you think the current problem facing newspapers is its business model, I believe the real challenge before the industry is a marketing one – repositioning (or going back to its roots) as an effective target marketing vehicle.

When radio and TV were first introduced, they were considered a threat to newspapers, but history has proven that theory wrong. The reason it was wrong was that cost of entry (advertising time) was so high and the medium was so different. Network TV is true mass media. Network radio is as well, but radio was first to come closer to the newspaper model with news radio geared to a regional audience.

Cable TV finally broke the TV mass marketing mentality and soon appealed to local car dealers, in particular, followed by restaurants and jewelers whose egos made them adore seeing themselves in their ads. If newspapers can learn anything from Cable TV it should be to encourage entrepreneurs to feature themselves in the ads instead of their products as entrepreneurial egos trump ROI every time.  “My wife’s third cousin saw my commercial,” was a common response I’d hear when accompanying news account reps on sales calls to local car dealers. ROI didn’t enter the ad buy equation. The value was more basic.

But as the famous newspaper cartoon line from Pogo goes:  “We have met the enemy and he is us.”  Newspapers have done as much, if not more, to damage their own unique selling proposition than the radio, TV, or the Internet by forgetting who and what they are.

USA Today has done more to change how newspapers are expected to look and their positioning as a mass media and The New York Times and Wall Street Journal are eternally chasing the national newspaper moniker as well.  Meanwhile, regional newspapers are being caught in the middle – never a good marketing position. They have the big guns above them and the micro-niched weeklies, direct mail and Internet sites beneath them.

The goal then, is to move from the middle, and not necessarily to regain the higher ground. Papers never had that ground. The answer may be in Tom Peter’s In Search of Excellence -“stick to the knitting.”  The first order of business is to agree that the middle ground is not the place to be.  Let’s learn from the retail market newspapers cover so well… big box stores do well as do well-positioned boutiques.  Middle of the road stores don’t last long.  The middle is not generally the place to be for long-term market success.