Marketing universe is more multi-channel than ever before

March 3, 2009

Editor’s note: This is John Reinan’s weekly marketing column for MinnPost.com. To see the original, go to http://tinyurl.com/alpfah.

Somewhere out there is a marketer who does only one thing. But I’ve yet to meet him.

The range of marketing channels continues to grow, and it sometimes seems like a full-time job just to stay abreast of the options for reaching consumers and influencers, much less actually execute a program using any of them.

In the last few months, my Fast Horse agency colleagues and I have used these methods to reach people with our clients’ messages. In most cases, we used several of them in conjunction:

• YouTube videos
• E-mail campaigns
• Search engine optimization
• Trade shows
• Print op-eds
• Branded entertainment content
• Web microsites
• Social media outreach
• “Earned media” coverage in traditional print and TV
• Planned events
• Guest bookings on TV and radio shows
• Blogging
• Twitter

That’s just what I came up with off the top of my head. And I don’t think we’re at all unusual. Anybody working in today’s marketing business has to carefully consider the best methods for getting out a message.

The choices were easier when there were fewer channels. The great old-media trifecta of print, TV and radio still can be useful, but its members are all crumbling to one degree or another. Magazines and newspapers are shutting down or slashing newshole; TV stations are cutting back on editorial and production staff in favor of infomercials; and radio (with the exception of the public variety) long ago abandoned any pretense of providing locally originated information.

The new marketing channels are full of possibilities, but they also require a long-term commitment. Starting a blog, for instance, is an effort that will pay off only if you can provide interesting and relevant content over time. You can’t expect 10,000 readers your first month. But the readers you get over time are more valuable because they’ve chosen to be there.

The same holds true for other Web-based marketing vehicles. Every company needs a strong presence on the Web, and that means more than just creating YourCompany.com. Individual brand marketing efforts may work best with separate microsites devoted to them, but you’ve got to have a plan for driving traffic to those sites.

It’s a fascinating and challenging time to be in the business. I’ve always been interested in the early days of TV, when the medium was new and people were making things up on the spot.

That’s the situation marketers face today. Old ways of doing things are giving way to the new, and the possibilities are endless for those creative enough to see them. It’s exhilarating, it’s exhausting, it’s rewarding and it’s maddening.

And it’s our business.