Most people classify information channels as “free” or “paid,” so starting with free:
Effective publicity can be incredibly cost-effective; useless publicity can deep six you as fast as advertising. All of these information channels are worth considering, because all have worked.
“We are the media” is the star currently. It goes by many names: blogging, participatory journalism, peer-to-peer, social networks, or simply chaos. Those who are adept at it become influencers and if they are lucky, online billionaires.
Social media is sometimes seen as one-stop marketing, whereas it’s usually just part of a marketing mix, whether you define SM as the major platforms such as Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, TikTok, etc., or sweep in dozens of smaller social connectivity sites. There are always two questions to social media promotion:
1. How do you convert the visitors to a desired action? If it is a generic action like recycling, it is possible to generate an action with a message alone. If it is more specific, it usually means choosing a follow-up, whether that is a link to a shopping cart or a website. (Even seemingly generic actions like improving health, financial security, or going green generally lead on to some specific offer.)
2. Who will do the hands-on work of posting? Some influencers actually do their own posting, but that doesn’t scale for long, and then there is the decision to either outsource or do the posting in-house.
Mainstream Media Publicity
Mainstream media scares off a lot of people because it is hard to control – reporters may spin or distort a source’s message badly. It can also be incredibly effective – a positive story going national through Associated Press or the New York Times newswire can instantly jump-start both social media mentions and website traffic.
Local services and products can potentially benefit from review websites like Yelp!. Your reputation can also be harmed, because reviewers can snap into attack mode over one flaw in your product or service. Because of this, review sites can wreck your reputation if you depend on them alone, but if you have a website most review sites will add a link to it – and then you still have some control of your message.
Search Engine Marketing
The hot new thing 25 years ago, touted as free advertising, SEO is now routinely overlooked, which makes it worth looking at. Since SEO work is almost all off-shored and done by inexperienced workers who are not native English speakers (or by artificial intelligence), there is plenty of room to move when extensive experience is applied.
Self-syndication of videos took off fast with Youtube in 2005 and is now a huge information channel. It is also a channel with huge competition, and – for a quality video – real costs. Some promotion can be done quite cheaply and some needs professional production, with professional expenses.
Most podcasts, just like most videos, have tiny audiences, and the people who produce them are negatively called “hobbycasters.” That’s about 99% of podcasts. The 1% can be another story, and may push you to orbital velocity on their own. The basic requirement: you need to have a speaker who has an opinion on something – preferably something of interest to the podcaster’s audience, whether the audience is tuned to health, environment, politics, social change, nutrition, sports … the list goes on.
Once a huge channel, radio is still huge – aside from being a favored commuter medium, radio routinely feeds into podcasts to be viewed by people who are able to watch a screen. Radio production can also be much cheaper than videos – noting that you cannot simply repurpose video for radio, because radio spots depend on language (with no imagery).
Websites are routinely underused and misused. They should not be, because a website is completely under your control: the look, feel, images, copy, and your image itself. It may be the most valuable internet real estate you own.
Your website can maintain your reputation by providing a channel for a message that stays on-message. It can promote your reputation by clearly telling what you have to offer. And it can help repair a reputation by targeting Google searches for negative information about you, drawing them into your website, and telling your side of the story.
Syndicating content or advertising is not hard; there are thousands of companies who offer the service. Tracking the content to the bottom line is another matter; it is a lot more complicated than mastering Google Ads software (Google AdWords until 2018).
Social Media Advertising
Initially this meant Facebook advertising, which remains the most sophisticated platform; others offering advertising include Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat, and Linkedin. The main appeal of social media advertising over search engine ads is the ability to target demographically instead of by search words, which some advertisers prefer. (Facebook itself has seen falling ROI on ads in recent years, some of this thought due to the loss of younger users.)
Search Engine Advertising
This still works for certain niches, particularly local businesses or services. It is usually less effective for national brands and campaigns or programs, but there are exceptions to that, since ads for Dell laptop computers and Ukraine relief funds have positive results.
The effectiveness of newspaper and magazine advertising peaked in the 1980s, and has been on a dramatic downhill slide since then. There are times and places it can still work, but the cost-effectiveness needs careful measurement.
Junk mail still fills mailboxes, typically with ads for “must-have” items like groceries, takeout pizza, and cable internet service. Print catalogs sent by physical mail can also work when sent to established customers. Ideas and programs can sell too; snailmail is frequently used effectively by political campaigns, which can be pro or con particular candidates or positions.
I have used all these informational channels with good results. If you would like to line up your ducks, please call.
1. Phone: 415–810–1966 Pacific Time
2. Email: Nicholas Carroll