Which marketing channel is best?

Lindsay Woodward Marketing

It’s a question I get asked all the time: “Which marketing channel is best?” People hope for a magic answer that’s going to help them market their product or service. There is actually a very simple answer, but it’s not one people usually like to hear.

As soon as I tell people I’m a marketing consultant, often the first question that pops out of their mouths is to ask me the best way to market their business. That and, “so you do social media then?” The answer to the latter is always, “I do whatever is best for my clients”. And the answer to the former is, “The best marketing channel is the one that’s going to reach your clients and give you the best chance of success.”

Tick Boxes
I’ve found there always seems to be a strong focus on social media marketing. And not because research has been completed and a strategy developed that has identified social media as the best channel for that individual business, but because there seems to be an idea that you have to be on social media or your marketing won’t work. It’s like the box ticking marketing approach. Are you on LinkedIn? Yes! Are you on Twitter? Yes! Are you on LinkedIn? No. No? Then you must get on it straight away. You must.

It’s not just social media. I’ve heard conversations like, “Have you done direct mail, have you done PR, do you have a blog?” They always follow with this emphasis on the word “must”. Because if it’s worked for one person then it absolutely must work for someone else, surely.

Multiple Channels
I went to a marketing seminar recently where we were shown research that demonstrated how the more channels used in marketing, the better chance of success. Therefore by just focusing on one or two channels, no matter how good you are at optimising these channels, you’re limiting yourself.

That makes sense, though. More reach, more leads, more customers. It hardly seems like rocket science. But what is more challenging is using the channels to the best of your ability and creating a joined up thinking approach.

It’s no good having an advertising campaign that showcases one message, having PR that talks about something completely different, and then your social media asks everyone unrelated questions. You need one message, one stand point, one line of thinking, and you need to push this out across all your channels in a carefully planned manner.

The best way to achieve marketing success is to first of all create marketing strategy. It seems like a big word, especially to smaller businesses. But strategy is simply about making all your actions well thought through. It’s about finding an objective and focusing on working towards that objective.

So what would you like to achieve in the coming year in your business? More leads? More customers? Perhaps you’d like to better position how your current customers perceive you or you’d like to enter a new market? It doesn’t matter what it is, but have an objective and then start to think about how marketing could help you achieve it. You’ll need to do some research, find out who you need to target and then find out how best to reach them. That’s in terms of channel and in terms of message/tone/language/images. You need to engage with your audience, but you can only do that if you really know who your audience is.

As soon as you start to get some clarity, then you’ll see what channels will work best and you’ll see how to use those channels to give you a better chance of success.

So next time you’re wondering what marketing channel is best, ask yourself first what you want to achieve and work from there. Because, quite simply, if you don’t know what you want to achieve, how will you ever achieve it?