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4 Questions for Media Success

  |  December 6, 2011   |  Comments

Building a comprehensive media strategy.

This week I'm collaborating with Leah Block, our newest media team member, to bring you this column. One of the things I always try to do as a manager and entrepreneur is identify easy-to-remember approaches, questions, and exercises that can consistently be applied to complex situations. The idea is to embrace daily exercises that, if applied uniformly, can cover the majority of situations people run into and get organizations to apply a universal set of best practices and standards. For an example, you can see my previous column "4 Questions for Agency Success."

So when Leah showed me some of the questions she asks herself when creating a media plan, I thought this was a perfect concept to place in my column: a library of daily questions and exercises we as marketers must ask ourselves. So we co-authored this column and came up with four questions for media success.

The Setup for the 4 Questions for Media Success

A comprehensive media approach shouldn't necessarily be about maintaining the same messaging or goals across all media channels and placements, but rather, it should focus on the full brand embrace and customer journey. It requires a keen understanding of all media tactics being used and how each one affects or leads into the other; guiding the consumer through the conversion funnel from awareness to purchase to loyalty. Oftentimes, marketers and media people are wrapped up in individual parts of this process, or a singular metric like acquisition of new customers. As a result, they don't connect all the phases in the customer journey to create a lasting brand embrace or focus on driving sales from existing brand loyalists. For example, what may be deemed a display acquisition campaign will never just be as simple as that. An acquisition banner not only drives direct conversions, but it can also keep brands and products top of mind with consumers in the purchase consideration phase. So while display and search can be used to connect with new customers, remarketing can be used to stay in touch with prospective buyers after the first engagement or lead capture event to actually close the deal, or encourage brand loyalty and repeat sales.

In a nutshell, it's not all about one goal or metric, but all the goals and metrics that need to be applied throughout the customer journey. If all you are pushing is a lead capture call to action or brand building engagement, you're not accommodating the continuing dialogue requirements of converting a consumer into a loyal or repeat customer. If most companies just relied on the first-time purchaser or even the first click to close a deal, they would be out of business pretty fast. This is especially true for consumer packaged goods - they are super reliant on brand loyalty!

So how do marketers keep the requirements of the full customer journey top of mind and not fall into the trap of boiling their campaigns down to a single metric? When planning a new campaign, marketers and advertisers alike need to consider the larger picture and full customer journey. So at a minimum, always be asking these four key simple questions:

  • Who am I trying to reach?
  • When am I reaching people?
  • What do I want them to do?
  • What's next?

4 Questions for Media Success Exploration

So let's dig deeper on the four questions and see where they should lead the people asking them.

  • Who am I trying to reach? This is totally standard and the question that all marketers and media people ask when creating a plan. So we won't go that deeply into it because it's obvious you really need to do your homework on this question.
  • When am I reaching people? Now this is a question that's asked much less frequently. Think about paid search and why it works so well. It's as much about "when" as it is about "who." It gets people right when they are looking for what you're selling. So why not try to apply some of the magic of "when" to display? By asking this question, it forces you to identify where people are in the purchase consideration phase or branding process. It makes you ask questions like, "Do the people I am targeting already know my brand or product and what it does? Have they already engaged with my brand or filled out a lead gen form? Are there other forms of advertising like television providing air cover and support and can I surgically synchronize with those campaigns? Should my ads mirror the traditional advertising or complement it? If you are doing retargeting, should you be hitting people with the same ads as those who have not been to your site lately?" These are all the secondary questions asking "when" forces us to think about as media and marketing professionals. So, when we target consumers with online display, we're very often looking at "who" when targeting but we also need to be thinking about "when."
  • What do I want people to do? Now that you have thought about both the "who" and "when" of your targeting, you have to focus on exactly what you want them to do at the very moment from that particular campaign or placement. This will drive two very important decisions - what action or behavior should your creative be trying to encourage and what are you going to measure? So in the case of a branding campaign where there is lots of air cover from other media and no possible transaction, you may be looking at engagement. In the case of a post-conversion retargeting program where you already collected a lead, you don't need them to fill out the form again - you want them to keep your product top of mind. If it's a brand loyalist, maybe you can encourage them to share your message in their social networks. So what do you want people to do and measure against that goal?
  • What's next? This is another question that is rarely asked by many media people and in fact a lot of marketers. Now that you reached people in one environment and they took an action, how will you reach them in the next phase of the purchase funnel and what messages and offers will you present to them? What behaviors will you encourage? Again, do you want to show people the same message or offer through the whole purchase consideration process or should your media message actually help to escalate people to purchase and brand loyalty? Think about how search, display, retargeting, social, packaging, and even in-house email all string together. That is what you will need to think about and piece together by asking, "What's next?"

Clearly there are more questions and factors that one can apply to their media program, but starting by asking these four questions will lead you to open a lot of unexplored opportunities, strategies, and tactics. As always, please comment to let us know what you think and of course share this column with the above social sharing buttons!


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Harry Gold

As founder and CEO of Overdrive, Harry Gold is the architect and conductor behind the company's ROI-driven programs. His primary mission is to create innovative marketing programs based on real-world success and to ensure the marketing and technology practices that drive those successes are continually institutionalized into the culture and methods of the agency. What excites him is the knowledge that Overdrive's collaborative environment has created a company of online media, SEM, and online behavioral experts who drive success for the clients and companies they serve. Overdrive serves a diverse base of B2B and B2C clients that demand a high level of accountability and ROI from their online programs and campaigns.

Harry started his career in 1995 when he founded online marketing firm Interactive Promotions, serving such clients as Microsoft, "The Financial Times," the Hard Rock Cafe, and the City of Boston. Since then, he has been at the forefront of online branding and channel creation, developing successful Web and search engine-based marketing programs for various agencies and Fortune 500 companies.

Harry is a frequent lecturer on SEM and online media for The New England Direct Marketing Association; Ad Club; the University of Massachusetts, Boston; Harvard University; and Boston University.

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