Friday, August 31, 2012

Understanding Message Channels and Target Audience Preferences for Marketing

I was thinking about all of the things we didn't have as kids (“we” meaning those of us who were born pre-1970s). The world has changed so much in the last four decades. In fact, the speed with which technology evolves seems to grow exponentially faster each year.

When I was a girl growing up in Philadelphia and spending my summers at the New Jersey shore, I had to pick up the corded telephone to call my friends and make plans. If I was making a long-distance call from the shore house, I even had to tell the operator the telephone number from where I was calling. Today, that sounds like such a strange concept with things like email (which is passé among our youngest generation), text messaging, Skype, ooVoo, Google Chat, IM and the myriad of other ways people can be instantly contacted. 

During the winter months, my friends and I wrote letters (on paper) to one another and addressed envelopes. We had to purchase stamps at the post office and then mail our letters and wait for days and sometimes weeks for a response. I remember checking the mail every day when I’d get home from school hoping for a letter from one of my friends who lived in New Jersey, Florida, Maryland or a host of other places.

For the traditionalists, baby boomers and gen-Xers reading this blog, think back. We didn’t have cell phones, PDAs, apps, satellite radios, cable TV, DVRs, GPSs, social media, reality TV, DVDs, mobile transit messages, electronic games (not until Atari anyway), digital photo sharing, and the many other things available for sending and receiving messages today.

And for the millennials out there, it’s also important to remember that while all of these different means of communication exist, there are three generations ahead of you who may prefer more traditional means of communicating. 

In the age of electronic communications there a nearly limitless ways people send and receive messages, it is important to understand all of the channels to reach your intended target audiences based on where and how they are communicating.  Before you assume that your blog, website, brochure, billboard, direct mail piece, advertisement, text, etc. – all tactics used for marketing and public relations – are reaching their intended audience, do your homework. Find out how your target audiences want to be reached. Then deliver your targeted messages in ways they can’t ignore.

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