Choosing the Right Medium for Your Message
By Michele Wyse
To determine the best medium for your message, consider who you are trying to reach. Knowing your audience is important to developing any message. For example, are they tech-savvy or do they need something tangible to hold in their hands?
Here are some important considerations for designing your next communication:
For both printed and electronic communications, determining how you want your end user to interact with the piece is a critical step in choosing the appropriate format for your message.
Electronic media such as e-newsletters, tweets, blog posts and even Facebook status updates, if used correctly, are highly effective ways of getting your message out into our ever-connected world. Ideal for quick and concise messages, e-communications have the advantage of, at the click of a link, driving traffic to your website and starting a conversation with your members.
For printed materials, how the reader interacts with the piece plays an important role in its success. Awhile back I received a printed piece promoting Nissan's latest car, the Cube. As I opened the outer envelope, a 3-dimensional cube with slick photos of the car actually sprung out of the envelope and onto my desk. It was brilliant in that it was so surprisingly different – the designers had found a way to turn a 2-dimensional print piece into a 3-dimensional, interactive and unforgettable print piece.
While Nissan's campaign was flashy and expensive, challenge yourself to find creative ways to encourage reader interaction without the need for a big budget. If your message requires multiple pages, explore new ways to present your copy – such as a design that folds a bit differently than a standard trifold brochure. Die cuts and non-traditional sizes can also add interest to your printed materials. A well-designed printed piece that invites the reader to interact with it will get your message heard.
To achieve the best of both worlds, consider incorporating QR Codes into your printed materials. Readers with a smartphone can use a reader app to scan the printed code, which brings them directly to your website, or to a specific page on your site – allowing them to connect with fellow members and staff, and learn more about your organization.
Today's challenging economic conditions have meant budget cuts – and often marketing budgets are the first to be slashed. Consideration of your overall budget factors into choosing the right medium as well.
If your budget is tight, you might take advantage of free or low-cost e-communications (tweets, blog posts, and e-newsletters) for your regular day-to-day communications as much as possible. Since print pieces often involve costs for design, production, mail prep and postage, save the print pieces to promote your biggest announcements or achievements, or to create a buzz for your biggest annual events.
Timing is an important factor in determining what format will work best for relaying your message. For your most time-sensitive messages, an e-mail blast, Facebook post, or even a series of tweets may be the most expedient method of reaching your audience and getting your message out. Another advantage of electronic media is that your message will reach a broader audience as recipients re-tweet, "like" your post on Facebook, or forward your e-mail blast to a colleague.
Printed pieces will require a bit more time to design, produce and mail, which makes the print format ideal for promoting upcoming events or getting out information that has a longer shelf life. Again, you can also use electronic media in tandem with print media. Follow up a series of promotional tweets with a beautifully designed postcard or informational brochure with a consistent message. Consistent messaging with well-planned timing (a tweet, followed by an e-blast a week later, followed by a postcard a week after that) will create interest in an event and strengthen your brand recognition.
Before choosing the best medium to convey your message, always get to know your audience and then play to their preferred methods of communication with creativity and originality. A little creativity can go a long way if you think through the kind of buzz you want to create ahead of time.
What mediums are you currently using for your messages to members and potential members? What simple options could you incorporate today to help increase the effectiveness of your communications?