All Channels Are Not Created Equal

Have you ever tried to hang a picture on a plaster wall with a hammer that’s too small and a nail that’s too big? Or how about trying to prepare a meal with a really dull knife? Name your situation, but there aren’t many things more frustrating than trying to accomplish something with a tool that isn’t fit for the job.

I think businesses experience frustration for the same reasons.

A friend of mine asked me a question that shed some light on the problem. He is on the planning team of a large annual fundraising event for a local non-profit. They’ve done a great job of growing attendance each year, and they have big plans for 2012. After telling me about some of their ideas for awareness and promotion, he asked if I could tell him “how to use social media, like Facebook and Twitter.”

My response? “Well, how you use them really depends on what you want to use them for – they’re not fit for everything.”

Images of marketers with small hammers and large nails started popping up in my head. No matter the communication tool in your toolbox, if you use it to do something it’s not good at, you’re signing up for poor results and lots of frustration. Want to make a closer connection to your customers? Broadcast advertising ain’t gonna cut it. Want to provide a takable ‘mobile experience’? There’s a good chance just slapping a QR code on every product or advertisement you produce isn’t going to garner the type of interaction you want.

Wielding multiple tools well isn’t the easiest thing in the world, though. The fact that use can vary so much from business to business (QR codes might work perfectly for one project and be a waste on another) can create a quite a learning curve.

As all of this was rolling around in my head last week, I ran across a simple example of a company who seems to have a good handle on how to use different channels in a way that works for their company and their customers:

“If it’s hard-core rack knowledge and education you’re looking for, head over to Yakima.com. But if it’s our fun-loving mojo that you want a little slice of, then join us at Facebook.com/YakimaProducts. We’ll promise to keep you as entertained as humble rack folks can.”

I’d venture to guess that Yakima doesn’t have a whole lot of staff to throw at Facebook and Twitter, but that they see value in the mediums. They know that not all channels are created equal – they’re not going to be able to provide the level of technical assistance on Facebook that they can provide on their website, but their website probably can’t spread their fun-loving mojo in all of the ways that Facebook can.

Because they’re using each tool for what it’s good at, their customers (hopefully) will know exactly where to go to get what they’re looking for.



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