Why Both Are Important When Creating Content For Your Target Audience
Marshall McLuhan, a renowned professor and intellectual, particularly in the realm of media theory, is often credited with predicting the internet almost thirty years before its advent. In the early 1960’s, he coined the immediately popular expression, “The medium is the message”. This concept indicates that a medium’s content is less significant than the medium itself. He notes, it is the medium, and not the content, that has a greater impact on shaping an individual’s, or group’s, perception. For instance, McLuhan would contend that the television carries with it much more significance than any of the messages coming out of it. This idea has remained a controversial topic in advertising and mass media since its inception. McLuhan’s influence waned somewhat in the following decades, but with the incredible growth and influence the internet has had on mass media, there has been resurgence in interest with his work. There certainly is application to this idea, or variations of it, when considering content marketing.
This post will focus on the idea that in order to create quality content, for a specific target audience, you must keep in mind both the medium and the message as foundational aspects of your content. Their symbiotic relationship is key in engaging customers and providing them content that they want and need.
McLuhan may have had a point, especially when regarding mass media and looking at the term “medium” in a broad sense, but when it comes to content marketing, McLuhan might have missed the mark. “The medium is not the message, the message is the message”, was the retort that many had for McLuhan’s controversial conjecture. This kind of critique doesn’t really focus on what McLuhan was getting at anyway. He saw the “content” or “message” as the apparent component, at least to the consumer, where the “medium” is what introduces subtly, over long periods of time, the types of changes that affect our perception.
If you take into account these ideas and place emphasis not on one or the other, but the combination of the two. You’ll have the proper ingredients to creating quality content.
Types of Media (The Medium)
For the content marketer today, there is a plethora of media that can be used. There is the tried and tested advertising media of the 20th century:
And what could be considered new media of the 21st century:
Choosing the right form of media is vital in grabbing the target audience you’re looking to engage with.
Crafting the Content (The Message)
Now that you’ve chosen your medium, it takes careful consideration when creating the content that goes into it. Delivering the right message is imperative in engaging and retaining customers. You want to be part, or all of, the information that you would want your customers consuming. With good content, you won’t have to try too hard to get customers involved. By being the most educational resource for your customer you will set up a longstanding relationship. Much like the symbiosis between the medium and the message, the business and the consumer must be in some form of unison.
A Couple Examples of a Good Medium with a Good Message
The Furrow (John Deere)
Medium: Magazine (Originally in Print, now also Online)
Message: Provides to the reader a mix of current issues in farming with both local and international background, and best practice examples as well as exclusive news and facts on John Deere products and company strategy.
Red Bull TV
Medium: TV and Online
Message: Gives the viewer front-row access to live events, the best in action sports, new music and entertainment, and thrilling videos from world adventurers. Provided a medium where the wasn’t one in the field of action sports.
Content Marketing takes into consideration both the Medium and the Message as key components for determining what a specific target audience will want and need.