New Media Challenges in Traditional and Internet Marketing

When you are talking to people in person, a small misunderstanding in communicating a message is rarely a deal breaker.  If you say something and it is interpreted incorrectly the person you are talking to might frown, furrow their eyebrows, or even take a step back.  You can apologize for the misunderstanding and correct your mistake, putting your partner at ease.  The conversation can continue without problem, and nothing comes from your error.

Media does not work that way.  You do not have the chance to correct yourself.  And when marketers make the mistake of trying to make a message transfer from one form of media to another, the results can be even more devastating.  A message originally made for TV does not work on the web in the same way, just as something written in a press release does not make a good billboard ad.

And when things go wrong today, they really go wrong.  Let’s imagine that a local company decides to send out an email to all of its customers advertising a new product.  The copy to be used in the e-flyer is taken from an existing radio commercial that plays on local stations.  When over the airwaves, the person reading the script of copy is able to add inflection to lead customers into interpreting the message in a particular way.  As such, the meaning of the message is directed, and less work is required by the receiver of the message to understand what it says.

When translated into a strictly print format those suggestions disappear.  What on the radio was a light hearted and sarcastic suggestion to come to the store or risk missing out on a big sale now seems like an aggressive warning to customers.  Of course it isn’t really – it’s just as it seemed on radio, a joke even.  But in print there is no way to keep customers pointing in the right direction.

To keep yourself out of trouble, follow a few quick and easy rules for dealing with different media:

  • Do not try and stretch the same advertisement across two different media.  It will not accurately transfer and may completely blow up in your face
  • Take them time to consider how your advertisements might be perceived differently than you meant for them to me.  There is no incorrect interpretation by potential customers, only positive and negative ones.
  • Be mindful that different messages are best suited for different media.  If you’re being sly and sarcastic, choose a visual or audible media that transfers that casual tone accurately.

Don’t shoot yourself in the foot by being careless with media.  At the same time, don’t be afraid to branch out.  It takes a diverse series of marketing strategies across media to be effective in the business world.  Just be careful.


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About the Author


Ricky Ahuja is the serving as the VP of Marketing for and provides strategic corporate and functional marketing consulting services to early stage companies.

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