Is The Medium The Message?

Medium Message1964 was the year of my birth.  It was also the year Marshall McLuhan, a Canadian philosopher of communication theory coined the phrase, “The medium is the message.”

According to Wikipedia, McLuhan’s insight suggested this central thought:  “The form of a medium (“media” plural) embeds itself in a message, creating an interdependent relationship by which the media influences how the message is perceived. Huh?

There’s still a debate on what that phrase means.  Smashing Magazine reports: “Saying that we experience different media in different ways doesn’t sound groundbreaking, but deeper exploration of McLuhan’s theory can change the way you design and develop your info marketing content.”

Okay, I think I’m starting to understand…

Here’s what I do know:  The meaning behind’s McLuhan’s insight has puzzled academics, philosophers, media mavens and marketers alike during the past 48 years.  In my view, “The medium is the message” is more closely related to another communication insight inspired by Werner Erhard which is, “Context is decisive.”

Let me explain: The communication model is simply SENDER —> MEDIUM —> RECEIVER.

When a SENDER chooses a medium to deliver a message, that medium represents the “context” of the communication.  The “context” of a communication dramatically influences how the intention (content) of the communication is perceived by the RECEIVER.  Put differently, the communication channel supersedes the meaning of the content in importance.

Is your head spinning or is this starting to make sense?

Let’s take a real life example with “online video” with my replays of our MarketingOnline.com Friday Hangouts that are public and $0 to experience.

The context of the media we are using each week is online video that’s broadcasts live, thanks to GooglePlus.  Live attendees have a different experience than website visitors watching the replays.  To prove it, go ahead and watch a replay at MarketingOnlineHangout.com and then return on a Friday at 12Noon Pacific/3pm Eastern and experience it for yourself.

(That was shamelessly smuggled promotion, but I do want you to experience what I’m talking about).

As the medium (“context”) changes, so does the perception of the message (“content”).  Are you getting this?  Depending on your intention with marketing communications you send, the perceived result of your communication is strongly determined by the medium you choose (video, audio, posts or a combination).

What’s even more interesting to me nobody else seems to talk about is the thought that the same medium can express a different message if it’s experienced “LIVE” or “RECORDED LIVE.”  Isn’t that true?

Here’s my point:  As a marketer, I find it useful to blend message contexts (“media”) to gain maximum impact upon the RECEIVER.  This is “blending of media” is often called “Multi-Channel” marketing.

In my recent promotion of our Ultimate Membership Site Seminar 5-day event, I utilized many communication channels and summarized it with a Video Postcard to support my message (and Intention) to fill more seats.

It worked.

I believe using one medium (as a lot of marketers do) limits the impact potential of a message. Many marketers I know have a bias toward certain mediums like email, postcards, online video, blog posts, or whatever else you can think of online or offline.

Using one medium the majority of the time is like catching fish with a fishing pole.  You can catch fish, but your “reach” is limited.  Multi-channel communication is like catching fish with a fishing net.  You still catch the same fish, but many more at the same time.

It now makes sense, right?

ACTION STEP:  The next time you’re thinking about sending out an email to your list or to any group you choose, consider combining other media sources like voice broadcasting, online video, offline postcards, blog and social media post, to communication the same message.  Most of your competitors won’t do that and the extra time and effort you put out will eventually pay off by dramatically boosting your social influence – guaranteed!

Try it and share your results on this blog or in our members area at MarketingOnline.com … if you are a member. Thanks for reading and as my thrillionaire friend, Nik Halik always says, “Have an EPIC day!”

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Because you made it this far, take a moment to discover how other business minded people see you by taking the Marketing Online Hero Persona Test.  Let us know how your come out!

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