Redefining “The Medium is the Message”

April 23, 2018
Author: Van Nguyen

In 1964, Marshall McLuhan introduced the phrase: “The Medium is the Message” in his book, Understanding Media: The Extensions of Man. Flash forward to over 50 years later, and his idea is more relevant than ever and has a deeper meaning.


We often forget or ignore what type of medium we are using to dialogue with our audience. Each medium channel is a unique touch point for reinforcing our message. What works in a print ad doesn’t necessarily work as well in an e-blast. Taking the time to understand how your target audience consumes information is just as important as the message and is the key to making sure that your value is translated in an effective and meaningful way.

Once a “customer experience roadmap” has been determined – it should include the best touchpoints for reaching that particular target audience. Touchpoints are also related to each phase of the customer journey: Discovery, Awareness, Interest, Consideration, Intent, Evaluation, Purchase, and Loyalty. We then layer in the type of medium or touchpoint to use to market to our audience. The result should be a holistic and integrated marketing plan.

We typically start defining the budget, planning the media, and developing next year’s ad campaign during Q3/Q4 of the previous year. The creation of the ad campaign concepts is most often based on business objectives and goals defined. The selection of an ad campaign is then translated into multiple touchpoints, but they don’t often translate into a small mobile ad or have a strong call-to-action or engagement component needed for e-blasts. Working backwards to define intended action or desired metric is the key to coming up with the campaign message for various customer touchpoints. What do you want your target audience to do? What state-of-mind are they in? How can you help them make a decision?

I am often asked about how Social Media tactics fit in with B2B marketing efforts. My usual answer is that a customer is in a “social” state-of-mind. They logged on to Facebook for a reason – and it was not to be “sold”, read “fake” news or have their privacy sold to third party interest groups. Rather they logged on to be social with friends and acquaintances. When they are logged on to LinkedIn, they are most likely in a “business” state-of-mind. How do we communicate in a way that is meaningful to them? We may want to utilize various social media for content marketing programs that meet current business objectives and not just display an ad from this year’s campaign.

Mr. McLuhan’s idea that the content of the medium does not affect the audience as much as the characteristics of the medium itself, is an idea that helps us marketers choose the best media to reach our audience who live in a media saturated world. We innately engage media in different ways. Understanding how the audience consumes information and hypothesizing their current state-of-mind during this process will help marketers utilize each touchpoint effectively and create meaningful content that opens up conversations that lead to action.

What’s your experience with messaging for the medium? Contact me at:

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The articles found on our blog are intended to educate, inspire and reconcile B2B sales and marketing professionals. We are all fighting on the same side, ideally working towards the same goals within our organizations. At Artime Group we believe that most manufacturers produce more value than they effectively communicate. That leaves money on the table for both management and sales professionals. We hope our articles spur dialog on collaboration and the value of good marketing.