How Rich is Your Media?

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Think about, in this day and age, the number of ways in which communication, even business communication, tries to replicate face-to-face interactions. With technology, we try to get as close as we can to replicating this experience. We’re fortunate to have so many communication tools available to us through a simple internet connection and a number of devices right at our fingertips. But how do we know the best way to communicate in any given situation?

Lengel and Daft explain the media richness theory in a recent article I read by saying, “face-to-face communication is the richest medium because it has capacity for direct experience, multiple information cues, immediate feedback and personal focus.”

In the B2B marketing landscape, it’s important to pick the right medium for the message you are trying to communicate. Since we can’t always communicate face-to-face, there are two rules Lengel and Daft have developed to help you select the right media for your message:

  1. Send non-routine content, major announcements or more complicated information through a rich medium. Get as close to face-to-face communication as you can with videos, webinars, conferences or trade shows, social media, and television or radio ads.
  2. Send routine content, unambiguous data or simple communication through a lean medium, like e-blasts, print advertisements, brochures, flyers, spec sheets or press releases.

For example, maybe you have been tasked with telling your company’s history for its 50th anniversary. A corporate video visually showing images to bring the story to life, an animation or even having a spokesperson featured in a video would be much more impactful and appropriate than a few bullet points on your website.

When selecting media for marketing campaigns, ensure the messages match the richness of the media you’re using so they don’t get lost in the noise of other messages constantly getting pushed at us. Data glut can happen when rich media is used for routine messages, and that excess information can cause overload. On the other hand, data starvation can occur when lean media is used for non-routine messages, and those messages will likely get lost in the clutter.

Marketing planning for 2015 is already well underway for many companies, but don’t forget to take the time to identify the best media for the messages you want to communicate over the next year. And don’t just assume this is for big picture planning only. Think about this the next time you go to write an email. If your message is important and would be better received in a face-to-face conversation, you may be able to avoid that message getting lost and saying to your coworker “but I thought you were doing it!”

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