Spot On has always been an advocate of media neutral strategies, to the point where we have frequently recommended clients take a completely different course to the one they originally envisaged in order to build campaigns that communicate their proposition effectively to their target audience. And that has not infrequently meant not even using media to communicate that message, but other forms of communication from conference events through to mall promotions through to simple word-of-mouth.
Our approach hasn’t really changed in that respect in today’s online world. We still back the idea of media neutral strategies, created with the customer at the centre of our thinking and built on solid objectives that create true measurability. Without a defined objective, any talk of measurement is wasted. Similarly, a strong strategy depends on having an objective to meet. Only now do we look at how we can best execute that strategy – what target audience we are looking at and how best to reach that audience with our message.
Of course, it’s rarely a one-off thing. One message communicated once to one person changeth not the world. Often we’ll be aiming at a stepped process that sets out to build change through consistent communication. That change – in a consumer’s buying habits, the perceptions of a given community or the opinions of a group of people – would typically come about as a benefit-led process and we tend to segment that in four main steps: awareness, acceptance, understanding and advocacy.
The way in which we communicate that change is set by the target audience at a given time (most of our work involves more than one audience), whether that audience is positively or negatively elective or defined by segmentation. A media neutral approach is all the more important in today’s digital world when the platform and the message can change quickly and the emphasis is on conversation and dialogue rather than targeted outreach – and where direct communication is increasingly taking the place of media relations in the tactical toolkit.
The final piece in the media selection puzzle is us. Consumers. Increasingly, we are choosing the channels we use to communicate with each other – and brands. And we can be surprisingly fickle: Pinterest went from nowhere to global phenomenon within months, while the move to mobile has created new heroes – and zeroes. In fact, consumers will use different platforms at different times for different reasons. The challenge for a brand is to be where the consumer wants them, when the consumer wants them and with the information the consumer wants. For the investment in that effort to make sense, each touchpoint should create value for the brand as well as the consumer – and to do that, a strategy needs to be in place that ensures consistent communication with an objective in mind. That strategy needs to cut across every touchpoint, online or offline. And so it needs to be media neutral.
If you’d like some thoughts on how this applies to your brand and, perhaps, some impartial advice about where your brand directs its marketing effort feel free to contact me on alexm(at)spotonpr(dot)com.
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