Media by Design

I often talk, tweet, and generally rant about being “customer-centered” and making marketing and media decisions around what is best and most intuitive for your customer. So, I thought it may be helpful to take a moment and answer the question: “what does it look like to be customer-centered?” Obviously, that answer will vacillate depending on context (business, marketing, pricing, etc.) and the specific business model, but for the purpose of this post we’ll stick with evaluating a customer centered approach to telling stories through media.

First things first, let’s make a quick clarification. The days of differentiated media are over. No longer is social iphonemusicmedia different from traditional tv, radio, or newspaper media. The only types of media that truly matter are the major categories of earned, owned, and paid media. Each has their place and appropriate use-case, but how is a business owner, brand manager, or agency exec to go about determining or defining that use case for their particular brand?

With that caveat in mind, let me introduce you to a concept I refer to as “Media by Design.” Essentially, this is the concept of combining design thinking (customer-centered, intentional, purposeful, meaningful, etc.) with media decisions, and applying design principles to our strategic and tactical choices for media. Practically speaking, doing Media by Design looks like the following:

  1. Placing the customer at the forefront of every strategic and tactical media decision that must be made. No stories, channels, or actions are decided without first encountering the customer.
  2. Building a robust customer persona and journey map that clearly defines the who the customer is and walks the organization through a “day in the life” of the customer and their interactions with the brand.
  3. Leverage the insights, ideas, and gaps identified through the customer journey mapping process to begin to craft strategies around engaging the customer where they are comfortable and already present.
  4. Choose media channels that prioritize the customers and provide them with an engaging and powerful experience.
  5. Utilize proven tactics within the chosen channels to drive awareness, activation, amplification, and retention.
  6. Test tactics and strategies in the “wild”, fail early and often, adapt, and repeat.

This method is a tried and true methodology that designers have been putting into practice for years. Recently, business thinkers (such as Eric Ries, author of the Lean Startup) have begun to craft their thoughts and actions in this way of behaving. But, for many reasons, we have continued to choose our media spend on hollow figures like impressions, click through rates, or heaven-forbid viewership. As our customers have evolved, we must too evolve in our approach to communicating our persuasive stories to them in a way that is native, organic, comfortable, and meaningful.

Media By Design-Customer-Centered,

That’s my 6-step plan to Media by Design. What’s yours? Have you tried any of these tactics in driving your media decisions? Would love to hear your opinions and experiences!

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