Media Matters: Amplify Results with a Better Marketing Mix 

Tips for spending your media dollars wisely and effectively reaching your target customers.

November/December 2016

In marketing, as with anything else in business, putting all your eggs in one basket can be dangerous. However, with the number of channels and types of media available for you to reach customers, there is also a danger of putting your marketing eggs in too many baskets.

The key to ensuring that you are effectively investing marketing resources is in the media mix. 

A media mix is the combination of channels your business uses to communicate with customers and prospects. Channels for small businesses include both digital (social media organic and paid campaigns, online video, search engine marketing, etc.) and traditional media (TV, print, radio and outdoor/billboards).

Choosing the right mix of these channels depends first and foremost on what you can afford and what your goals are.

Determine your needs

There are three main stages of customers’ purchase decision-making process—awareness, adoption and loyalty. Determining what stage you are focusing on should impact how you spread out your resources. For example, if you are moving your location or launching a new product or service, you are in the awareness phase and you are going to want to put your company’s name in front of your target customers in the most efficient way possible. This could include billboards, TV, video or other mass media channels.

After the awareness stage, prospects who move to the adoption phase are ready to make a purchase. To reach this group, you want to invest in channels that make it as easy as possible for the prospects to find and buy from you. To attract prospects online, this would include retargeting, Google AdWords and search engine marketing.

If your goal is to increase customer loyalty, then social media and social advertising might make up a larger percentage of your mix.

Allocating your marketing spend

Many experts agree that spreading your marketing resources across as many media platforms as possible is not the most effective strategy.

“There is no one-size-fits-all solution and there is no ideal marketing mix for every single company,” says Jon Vogel, founder and partner of 215 Marketing, a Philadelphia-based marketing firm. “We don’t always recommend a multi-platform marketing mix. Sometimes you can stick to one or two channels, instead of marketing across seven or eight, because there is a higher or denser return rather than shotgunning dollars across a bunch of channels and hoping for the best.”

The ideal mix varies depending on your type of business (B2B or B2C), industry and location. The target demographic is another key factor in determining what channels would give you the most ROI. For example, Generation X accounts for the most traffic in video-on-demand and television, so you may want to allocate more money toward video channels, if that is your target audience. While video is also a very effective channel for reaching Millennials, one-third of people in this age range say social media is their preferred communication channel.

Evaluating the effectiveness of your mix

“You never want to go all in with your budget on anything you do, right away,” says Vogel. “You want to spend some of your budget to start, check the ROI, and then if you need to crank up the efforts, you have a buffer and can afford to do so.”

When is the best time to compare how much you’ve spent on media to how much has been returned? According to Vogel, the answer is always to keep tabs on your mix’s performance and don’t wait for the end of a quarter or the end of a contract. Check in on the campaign results every two weeks. If you try to measure ROI before the two-week mark, you may not be giving users enough time to get involved with, or respond to, the marketing or advertising piece.

If you are trying a channel for the first time and don’t have historical data on how your marketing efforts through that channel performed, you can better predict effectiveness by researching the audience. You can research demographic information (such as age, location and gender) and psychographic information (such as interests, lifestyle and attitudes). And, if you are considering digital advertising, you can research audience analytics and do keyword research to get an idea of the pool of people who will be viewing your ads.

Just as there is no one-size-fits-all media mix, there is no mix that can be ideal forever. As technology, demographics and your own business change, so should the allocation of your marketing dollars.

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Top Takeaway

Use a test-review-and-revise approach to creating your marketing mix. Allocate some of your budget to specific media channels to start, check the ROI on that investment, and if you want to change course with a campaign or increase the effort, you can afford to do so.