- Posted by Dave Chartock
- On May 4, 2016
- 0 Comments
- brand message, context and perception, developing your brand message, marketing
Nearly every journalism student and every working journalism knows Marshall McLuhan’s “The Medium is the Message” phrase. He coined the phrase 50 years ago to explain that the form of a medium embeds itself in the message, creating a symbiotic relationship by which the medium influences how the message is perceived. (For example, an article in print differs and is perceived differently than a broadcast or online story about the same subject).
In other words, it is the medium that shapes and controls the scale and form of the context within a specified medium.
This has never been more true in today’s digital world, especially when it comes to brands. Brand marketers know their audience. Their marketing strategies have identified and understood their customers. Where they fail is in how to target their message. What they need to do is identify the times, places and moments when a message can be at its clearest.
They need to determine character impact versus text. Princeton psychologists John Darley and Daniel Batson devised a test to help determine this.
They first assessed the personalities of 40 theology students and asked what motived them: personal salvation or the need to help others. Next, each student was asked to deliver a sermon. At this juncture, a situational variable was introduced. That variable split the students between being told they were running late and being told they had plenty of time to reach the church in which they would deliver their sermon. Then, a plant –a man pretending he had fallen – on the route to the church. Next, the researchers made note of which students topped to help the man.
The results were that 40 percent of those who were told that they were late, stopped to provide help compared with 63 percent who had been told they had plenty of time.
One conclusion drawn by the researchers was that we underestimate context as a driver of behavior. What does this mean for businesses? It means situational or contextual factors are more important than personality when it comes to ascertaining behavior.
This experiment implies that brands need to focus both on targeted contexts and targeted audiences.
Marketers continue to identify what the right content should be for their message. They need to test, not assume.
When it comes to brands, what consumers hear, see and think is shaped by the context in which they encounter it. For example, the weather affects mood and in turn, that affects an intended purchase, especially if that intended purchase is at a brick-and-mortar venue.
While marketers have no control over the weather, they can control what they do for their brands in the context of the weather. The same holds true with regard to the non-controllable situations.
Perhaps one solution is using social media management where your audience can be targeted with a tailored message within the controlled context of the Internet. Here, more than anywhere else, he medium has become the message.