The channel selection process is more complex than ever. This is due to the Digital Revolution. From roughly the 1950s through the 1980s there were only a few widely used marketing channels. That was an era of mass media push marketing, where messaging was typically advertisements for products and services. This brought about the development of USPs. With the rise of the internet came a boom in marketing channels, and there are now hundreds.
The challenge with that many channels is that only companies with massive budgets can afford to use the majority of them. It’s also too much of an undertaking to become an expert in every channel. That’s why it’s important to identify your most profitable prospects and segments. You will need to aim your messaging toward the ones that will provide the greatest reward on a channel of which you are knowledgeable.
On the plus side, the channels make it so that marketing efforts can really affect your bottom line, especially in a commoditized market. By being smarter than the competition when selecting channels, you can get a leg up. Smart marketers will do their homework to zero in on the best channels and focus only on their preferred segments. The goal is to be a leader in those areas, because it’s better to be great to a select few smaller segments than to be just good to large segments.
How to Select the Right Channels
Efficient channel selection will result in more conversions with less wasted time and money. Pretty appealing, right? But how is it done? To begin, refer back to your personas’ buyer’s journeys. As a quick refresher. The buyer’s journey consists of five phases: Awareness, Consideration, Comparison, Intent and Decision. These are the steps buyers take as they seek solutions to problems or pursue opportunities. Channel selection goes hand-in-hand with the buyer’s journey because your job as a marketer is to find the maximum impact points — points along the buyer’s journey where your messaging can make the greatest impact on the prospects’ purchase decisions. Part of achieving maximum impact is deploying your message on channels prospects use regularly and trust for information.
We first presented the graphic below when we discussed the buyer’s journey. Now that you’ve expanded your knowledge of the marketing process, it should make a little more sense with regards to the buyer’s journey and possible channels.
It’s obviously not efficient to use all possible listed channels. Here’s how to narrow it down:
First, list all of the channels you think your prospects are using. When they are seeking a solution, where do they go for information? Is it a trade publication? Do they attend trade shows? Do this for every phase of the buyer’s journey for each persona. For maximum efficiency, it’s best to narrow down your list to about five channels.
Next, research those channels. Reach out to whoever runs the channels (trade publication advertising director, trade show organizer, etc.) and explore your options to deliver your message on their channel. In many cases, they’ll have some kind of advertising or sponsorship package. Since most channels require payment to use, you’re probably wondering what the secret formula is to get the most bang for your buck. Cost Per Thousand Impressions (CPM) was developed to quantify the volume of people that could be reached at a certain cost. To calculate CPM, take the advertising cost and divide it by the number of impressions (trade publication subscribers, for example). So if a trade publication ad costs $675 and will reach 11,000 people, take 675 ÷ 11 to get a CPM of $61.36.
With that said, CPM is just one way to help you form your marketing strategy and is not the end all, be all. Remember, your goal is to reach the right personas, not the most personas. Quality, not quantity. It’s better to reach 100 great personas on a channel they engage with on a regular basis than to reach 10,000 prospects from a broad demographic that may or may not include your ideal personas.
Hopefully, you’ll have enough information available to settle on four or five great channels. If you have a situation where you have several comparable channels that all offer the same ROI, turn the attention to your company. Decide if you have the knowledge and resources to be successful using each channel. If you don’t, maybe eliminate those options. Or, if you really want to give it a go, you can seek assistance. There are a variety of marketing specialists you can work with: ad agencies, direct mail shops, web developers, SEO specialists, content marketing experts — the list goes on and on. If you don’t like the idea of having so many partners, there also are general marketing agencies that can effectively execute on multiple channels.
Find a Balance
Since the Digital Revolution, there’s been an ongoing battle between the traditional marketers who say you’ve got to launch your message to the public and the digital marketers who say it’s all about creating great content the public will come to you to find. The terms outbound (traditional) and inbound (digital) were coined by HubSpot and are also commonly used. However, there’s also omni-bound marketing, which combines elements from each.
Even though it’s a good practice to deploy your messaging on a handful of the best channels, don’t limit yourself too much. Use the channels you’re comfortable with, as well as some that are more outside of your comfort zone. If your research tells you that you can be successful using traditional marketing tactics as well as digital marketing tactics, do it!
Efficient channel selection requires an understanding of personas and the buyer’s journey, knowledge of how selected channels work (or a partner who can help), and a dedication to finding the best possible combinations. If you mix some old-school marketing and add some new tricks to your repertoire, you can get more response from your messaging than ever before.
Have additional questions about channel selection or want to learn even more? Call us at 815.431.1000 or submit this form to contact us.