Defining Some Parameters

August 23, 2008 at 8:36 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | 2 Comments
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What are “new media,” anyway? And how do we choose which ones will accomplish our marketing communications goals?


New media, or emerging media, as they are also known, cover a vast range of media options that developing technologies have given us. There are blogs (like this one!) and vlogs (video blogs), social networking sites (like Facebook and LinkedIn), podcasts (they’re not just for iPods!), chat rooms, widgets (not the ones from your Econ 101 class), advergames, Web sites (of course), and more.


Which one is best? Ah, that depends on what our goals are. What are we marketing? Who is our audience? Let’s go back to that Econ 101 version of the widget for a minute. Imagine that we’re charged with launching Wilkins’ Wonder Widget into the marketplace. It is designed to help college students get more sleep, eat less pizza, and ace all their tests. Now we know our target audience, and we can begin to examine our media choices. One promising possibility is social networking sites. Facebook, for example, boasts over 90 million active users and an 85 percent market share of four-year U.S. universities. It sounds like our target audience spends lots of those hours that they’re not sleeping there, so we might want to join them there with our marketing message!


On the other hand, what if Wilkins’ Wonder Widget was designed for active singles aged 21 to 34, who commute to work? Then we might consider podcasts as a way to get the word out; this age group is podcast-savvy and often wired while exercising and commuting. If the Widget has a feature best demonstrated with sound, we can take advantage of the podcast’s audio capabilities to wow the target audience as they listen. Podcasting can include video as well, but that may limit the viewing audience slightly to those watching on computer or with devices that play video as well as audio. 


Now, what if Wilkins’ Wonder Widget launches with phenomenal success – after all, how could it not, with our great media choices? – and now wants to launch the Wilkins’ Wizard Widget Extraordinaire, designed for people aged 8 to 88? To demonstrate the Wizard Widget in all its spinning, singing, sautéing, lawn-mowing and crocheting glory to the entire age range of potential consumers, along with a directory of retail locations, usage instructions, and legal disclaimers, our best choice may well be a Web site. Text, images, audio, video, and complex, searchable data can all be conveyed through a Web site, and a wider age range of people uses Web sites than many of our other new media choices.


So there you have it. The question of “which is better” is best answered with another question: what are we trying to communicate to whom? Answering that question will help us successfully communicate.



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  1. It is amazing how many companies don’t start with the “who is our audience” question.

    I am currently doing some work on the volunteer basis and they want posters made or press releases written, etc. I ask who am I writing this for and they reply “people”!

    I know you are talking about new media, but it holds true across the board. Know thy audience before choosing thy medium. It really should be a marketing commandment.


  2. Hear ye, hear ye! Jak has proclaimed a worthy marketing commandment!

    I agree that too often, we speak at audiences without taking the time to know more about them than an age range and income level. If we really want to sustain their loyalty, we will treat them as the important people they are.

    After all, if they don’t buy, the company doesn’t earn, and if the company doesn’t earn, we don’t get paid. Turning it around, how then could we expect someone to speak to our needs when we’re in the customer’s role?


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