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Making the right media choices is absolutely fundamental to successful marketing communications programs, but how do we evaluate all the media choices available to us?
Here are seven questions that will help:

1) Does the media fit my brand?
In addition to the messages you are communicating, the media itself says something. For example, it’s very rare that you see luxury brands advertising on public transport, because “luxury brands don’t take the bus”. It’s just not right for the image. Every media says something about who you are.

2) Is there an editorial context I can benefit from?
Media such as television and print (newspapers and magazines) provide an editorial context: your message is seen in the context of the surrounding editorial. This is important, because the editorial can help prepare your audience for your message. For example, if you are selling financial services, then the ‘Personal Finance’ section of a newspaper or magazine is a good option.

3) Does the frequency of the media fit my requirements?
Different media have different frequencies: newspapers are usually daily, magazines are often weekly or monthly, some publications are annual, and this will have implications for the scheduling of your communications programs.

Frequency also determines how long a particular media is ‘in market’. Each edition of a newspaper comes and goes very quickly, whereas a monthly magazine will be in market longer, and so can play a different role in your overall communications program.

4) What is the targeting capability of this media?
“Can you efficiently reach your target audience?” – this is the most obvious targeting question. But different media can fulfill different roles: giving you the opportunity to reach your target audience at the right time and in the right place. For example, outdoor media can be focused geographically (to reach your target audience when they are near your retail outlet).

5) Which is my main objective: awareness or action?
Mass media such as TV, newspapers and radio are more suited to building brand awareness and brand perceptions. However, if your main objective is to drive action (to increase your newsletter subscriptions for example) then you will need to consider more direct, action-oriented media such as direct mail or the internet.

6) Can the media deliver the necessary information?
Some media are better at communicating large amounts of information, which may be an important part of your communications campaign. For example, the internet and print advertising (particularly newspapers) are stronger than radio or TV in this respect.

7) How high are the production costs likely to be?
Finally, product costs are also an important consideration, particularly if you have relatively small budgets. For example, producing a TV ad is far more expensive than producing a print ad, which again is more expensive than producing an SMS ad. As a benchmark, consider allocating no more than 6-8% of your total budget to production costs.

Ask yourself these questions next time you are considering your media options. They’ll help you evaluate your choices and you’ll see more clearly how well they fit with your communications objectives.


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