Sometimes in business, ‘The Medium is the Message’.

This is a marketing observation.

So if you are in business or thinking about being in business, this is for you.

Medium.

By ‘the medium’ I am referring to ‘the means’ or some other nuance around how you actually choose to deliver the marketing message.

This is important because if you get the medium wrong, no matter how good the message is – I won’t listen.

The medium becomes the message.

Examples. 

So, an in-house photocopied A5 flyer on 80gsm paper (80gsm is the weight of ordinary/run-of-the-mill/crappy office paper) is never good enough.

I don’t care who you are, it is never good enough.

Unless you run an ordinary, run-of-the-mill and crappy business of course.

Then you’re fine.

And so it follows that the way in which we try to sell or influence is always part of the message.

So if you ask to connect with me on LinkedIn and then in the first or second message treat me as a prospect – I immediately unfollow you.

Because you’re a lazy and unimaginative.

And the way in which you have tried to engage me becomes part of your messaging – to me.

Similarly, as I also don’t like to be interrupted in my day-to-day life, I now make a special effort to remember not to use the brands that interrupt Izobel and I as we watch Mr. Men on YouTube.

The Medium Is The Message. 

As a brand guy, I am big on the importance of message.

I am all about brand really.

Brand being the unique proposition that your business owns.

But no matter how good you are at a brand level – please get the medium right.

If you do not, you will be ignored.

Or worse than that, consciously or subconsciously blacklisted as simply not good enough.

8 Comments

  1. Good points Michael.

    Your references to paper sizes and substrate took me back to the good old days when the main option was to leaflet drop your customers, or if you had a few quid send a bespoke direct mail pack- which incidentally is still a medium not to be discounted.

    I remember how it evolved to become more targetted around the consumer’s demographic profile, subsequently acknowledging buying habits and other seasonal events, which was the first steps in using very personalised data to generate acquisitions and also the retention of customers- hook them in then keep them for life!

    Oh how the world has moved on!

    Yours Mr Lithograhic Dinosaur!

    • Michael Owen

      I think that, in between my grumblings and rumblings, all I am saying really is – don’t be lazy.

      Or obvious.

      Or boring.

      Because if whatever you’re doing is not extraordinary – it’s ordinary.

      And I don’t like ordinary in environments when one is trying to be remembered (for the right reasons of course).

      I am keen to chat with you and learn from you Richard – because I think your business experiences and achievements are way ahead of mine.

      It’ll be great to say hello.

      But I suppose what I am saying here is that I remember most what I remember most.

      I remember that the cv I enjoyed reading most in 20 years (and that I’d actually decided to offer a job – any job – to the author before I’d read it) was hand delivered to me inside a small donkey Piñata.

      Alongside a small, plastic baseball bat.

      The guy shook my hand as he left it on my desk and quietly left.

      Next to the A4 ones (yawn).

      My team rather enjoyed bashing it, eating the sweets inside and handing me the neatly folded cv once it was released.

      It’s just a thought.

      About thinking further.

      Tarra for now

      Michael.

  2. All the data in the world won’t shine a turdy leaflet into something that convinces me to change my behaviour or persuades me to part with hard earned cash.

    The medium needs to play a part in the message. Just as the same word written in different typefaces can trigger a different response in the reader, the same message delivered in different media will provoke a different reaction.

    Sometimes being deliberately obtuse works. I’ve used newsprint to get invitees excited about a very glossy event for example. I think it is about using the material that we have at our disposal in a conscious manner to create an artefact worth receiving, from pixels to foil-blocked, triplex, edge-painted, high cotton stock.

    These days mediocrity is almost absurdly easy to achieve. Anyone with a computer can call themselves a designer. Full-colour, reasonable quality, full bleed, spot varnished print is available overnight at the click of a button. Recycling centres are chock full of the stuff. It’s not special, it’s wallpaper, detritus to be washed up on the polluted beach of commerce.

    I always ask my clients why they want to commit themselves to print. They usually want the recipient to do something in response to receiving it. So I ask, would a 4pp A5 brochure persuade them to do anything? Their answer is usually no.

    If we are going to make an artefact, we usually try to make something that someone would enjoy receiving. It’s not always possible; sometimes we try and fail, but we never stop trying.

    • Michael Owen

      What I think you do so well Shaughn is bridge strategy and tactics.

      And flick back and forth between the two.

      Joining the dots.

      And seek to be memorable – for your clients – through being extraordinary.

      I like also how you believe in ideas, and bright/adventurous/clever/masterful use of typography.

      Such things need not cost the earth.

      Thank you again for taking the time too say hello, Shaughn.

      Michael.

  3. Hey 50odd guys, I think the key message here is memorable.

    And to be clear I wasn’t suggesting leaflet drops with personalised data are of the moment, this was merely a 46yr old guy reflecting on times gone by when the smell of roller wash used to rush up my nose as I strolled across the factory floor as a young print apprentice! And subsequently how the use of media has moved forward, to where we are now being constantly followed by our digital shadows that lurk behind every url and website.

    Have a crazy 50odd weekend- Michael, I’ll message you re meeting up next week buddy.

    Richard.

    • Michael Owen

      I love good print.

      I probably always will. For the reasons you point out Richard.

      The smell and the feel in my fingers.

      Beautiful.

      M.

  4. Richard. Apologies if my response came across as any kind of criticism. It wasn’t intended that way. I was agreeing with you wholeheartedly.

    • Michael Owen

      Richard.

      Meet Shaughn.

      Shaughn.

      Meet Richard.

      Two of the finest chaps I know.

      Shaughn, when you are up here we will all get together, pop to Pete Zulu’s place, see if Carlo will come up too and have a giggle.

      All good.

      Thank you for taking the time to message today.

      Bye for now

      M.

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