Rash Vs. Rational: The Foolproof Way to Vet Media Tactics

September 11, 2019

Marketers have more options for media channels than ever. That’s the good news — innovators will keep improving ways to connect with customers.

The challenge is deciding if a new tactic makes sense for the brand.

Will it be effective? Is it worth the time and money? Does it only work in other industries? Or is it just hype around something trendy?

There are no guarantees that something untested will jumpstart sales or reach a wider audience. But there is a foolproof way to vet these communication methods without risk.

Media channel mania

As recently as the 1980s, The Big 3 of radio, television and print dominated media. Today’s marketers have 120+ communication methods, 6,829 technology solutions and consumers who demand 24/7 access to brands.

That’s a lot to consider. But it doesn’t have to be analysis paralysis. We’ve heard that “all great changes are preceded by chaos.” The chaos cannot overtake marketing strategy, though. Does this hit too close to home?

Don’t veer off course

Rash decisions can do more harm than good. Unfortunately, examples aren’t hard to find. The retailer with no e-commerce that sank its resources into digital marketing. The soda brand that printed Pincodes on labels without any value to consumers. The distinguished financial services institution that focused on social media to target Gen Z.

These ill-advised moves all cost time and money. They didn’t get positive results. And they didn’t help build the brand.

Most tactical mistakes marketers make come with one of these mindsets:

  • Do it all. The Peanut Butter Approach spreads budget evenly but thinly across every tactic.
  • Maintain status quo. Blockbuster was a juggernaut doing business as usual. Until it wasn’t.
  • Chase the shiny penny. The hot new thing is tempting at first glance, but needs careful analysis.

Shiny Penny Syndrome is when marketers chase after the buzziest trend — but they lose direction and stray from the strategy, pursuing something that’s doesn’t have much value.

The rational strategy

Rash marketers put a tactic or channel first. The rational strategy prioritizes the brand’s purpose.

Something sexy and new is still exciting even with a measured, intelligent vetting process. Decisions get easier when marketers have the confidence of knowing what the organization is about and where it’s going.

This simple, hierarchical approach to emerging media settles whether it’s a good match. The rational strategy starts at the top, and catches marketing methods that don’t ladder up to what’s most important.

1. Vision

This is what a company stands for, the why, the long-view for where leadership wants to be.

2. Objectives

The next level of executives determine marketing goals – leads, sales, traffic, etc.

3. Pillars

What the company is about aligns the brand with how customers should think and feel.

4. Strategy

Creative leads and strategist lay a foundation and build a framework to base decisions on.

5. Tactics

Working teams decide which avenues for execution make sense for the brand, then implement.

Who does rational right?

Even from the outside, it’s easy to see that Airbnb follows this framework for applying tactics. Here it is in action, with every what supporting the overarching why of the brand’s vision.

Vision: Airbnb exists to create a world where anyone can belong anywhere, providing healthy travel that is local, authentic, diverse, inclusive and sustainable.

Pillars: Be a Host | Embrace the Adventure | Be a “Cereal” Entrepreneur | Champion the Mission | Every Frame Matters

10 strategic tactics: “We Accept” Campaign | Passion Categories | Marnie the Dog | “Live There” Campaign | App Design | The Bélo Logo | Neighborhood Guides | Airbnb’s Guidebooks | Airbnb Stories | The Floating House.

No question Airbnb is successful while remaining uniquely, recognizably innovative. It’s a vivid example for how to grow and succeed through new media channels.

Where to start, and what comes next

We’re in the early days of immersive video, practical augmented reality, and voice- and location-based media options, to name a few.

Coming soon? Camera-centric browsing and search, mixed reality with physical products, ambient media with cognitive ergonomics and much more.

There’s no break from the next big thing. Some of it sounds intimidating. But soon it could be status quo.

The marketer’s job is simple — move content to where it has the most value. Reallocate budget and transfer dollars, circulate the media. Execute, measure, iterate. But only after thorough, rational vetting. Optimization doesn’t fix what’s a flawed idea from the start.

Evolve without getting overrun by chaos. Make that connection — then make the decision.