One of the main challenges for modern marketers is choosing the right channels for your marketing message. There are just so many channels available today, especially given the massive growth of online channels. Many small to medium businesses can’t support a full-time specialist marketer, so how do you pick your way through the clutter to find the channels that will give you a good return on investment? Here’s a guide to help you on your way.

What is a marketing channel?

A marketing channel is simply a platform or tactic used to communicate your marketing message to your customers (target audience). The essential principle that underpins all marketing is this:

  • Identify your customers’ needs and wants
  • Find the right channel to reach your target market
  • Send your marketing message

What channels should you consider?

With so many choices available today, it can be hard to select the right marketing mix. Your marketing mix simply means the channels you select to broadcast your message. These will be based on your marketing budget and other considerations.

Two terms you should familiarise yourself with when selecting marketing channels are frequency and reach. Frequency refers to the number of times your message is broadcast. Reach refers to the potential size of your target audience. If a channel doesn’t reach your audience, or get your message across often enough, it’s not right for your mix.

What channels are available?

Here is a basic partial list of traditional and digital channels available for consideration.

Traditional Channels Digital Channels
Print advertising – newspapers, magazines etc Websites
Radio Blogs
Television Social media – Facebook, Twitter etc.
Direct mail and newsletters Email marketing
Billboards Mobile apps
Sales collateral – brochures, displays etc. Webinars
Events and trade shows Search engine advertising
Loyalty and incentive programs Third party display advertising
Telemarketing and personal selling Search engine optimisation (SEO)

How to determine the best channel fit?

As you research the channels available, ask yourself the following questions.

  • Does it reach my target audience?
  • Does it suit my budget?
  • Does it allow me to effectively communicate my message?
  • Can I measure how well it performs?
  • Is it a good fit with the other channels I’ve chosen?

Consistency of message is key to success

Once you’ve selected the right mix of channels, make sure your message is consistent across all platforms. A good marketing mix uses many channels to keep your message top of mind with your target audience.

Measure, measure, measure

Failing to measure the effectiveness of your channels and their ROI is a mistake made by many, including experienced marketers on occasion. The five key measurements of success are: greater brand awareness, lead generation, sales generation, customer education and traffic (for digital channels) and advocates (for traditional channels). Traffic is increased website and social media activity. Advocates are people who voluntarily generate more positive messages about your brand.

If any channel isn’t providing you with any positive return on investment, try to find out why and if you should continue to include it as part of your marketing mix. Get the mix right and you will see positive results. Get it wrong and you could waste a lot of time and money.

If you want more information, especially about digital channels, feel free to get in touch.