“Each medium, independent of the content it mediates,
has its own intrinsic effects which are its unique message.”
Dr. Marshall McLuhan, Understanding Media: The Extensions of Man.

The philosophy of Marshall McLuhan offers insight into issues with which business managers still grapple today.  McLuhan coined the phrase, “The medium is the message.” In the world of marketing, this is a bit of an overstatement, but we should take the point seriously.

In the lingo of communications professionals, the word "medium" refers to the method by which one disseminates a message. You often hear the phrase, “the media,” as in the “the media overlooked this story.”  The speaker using this phrase typically refers to the big three: newspaper, radio, and television. Your selection of media, however, contains many more options.

Consider the myriad number of salespeople who travel to your office hoping to sell you their product or service. You may have encountered situations where the salesperson did not seem terribly knowledgeable about the product. The salesperson is the medium. Almost ignoring the message the person is trying to deliver, you instantly start drawing conclusions about the company who sent you an unhelpful salesperson: “they don’t value customer service,” or “they don’t mind wasting my time in pursuit of their sales,” or “they are not competent enough to fully train their staff before pushing them on me.”  In these cases, the medium is speaking more loudly than the message.

Keeping McLuhan’s philosophy in mind when planning your communications strategy can help you make more effective communications.

  • The strategy that is consistent, predictable, and professional over a long period of time sends the message that the company is stable, trustworthy, and professional. For home health, physical therapy, and hospice, technically written newsletters mailed to doctors are a good option for this. 
  • The representative who is more attractive than knowledgeable may send the wrong message to a certain segment of your referral base.
  • Articles that are well researched, technical, and well reasoned send the message that you are an expert in your field.
  • Brochures that are less professional than your competitors' may send the message that you are less competent. Under the right circumstances, good copy writing can turn the tables and convince readers that you are the more dedicated, even if not the best funded, alternative. This is a case of the message overcoming its medium. If you cannot make brochures that meet the minimum standards of professionalism, don’t make brochures. Try some other medium that you can manage well (e.g. flyers or basic letters).
  • Three-foot tall, tabletop displays featuring 8.5×11” pages designed with basic clip art send the message that this is a small-time organization with small-time skills.  Do not pay to participate in health fairs when such displays will portray your skills as inferior to the competitor across the room.  Either scale down your presentation to something you can afford to do well or find a medium other than the health fair. Consider professional banner stands for as little as $165 plus shipping and taxes.

If you have a medium you would like to begin using or to upgrade, contact Brazzell Marketing Agency.  Brazzell Marketing Agency specializes in marketing for community-based and outpatient healthcare providers. BMA understands your financial margins and designs packages that work within your profit points. From technical newsletters to brochures to websites to social media marketing, Brazzell Marketing Agency can help you manage professional media within your budget.