The Medium Is The Message

A side effect of our quest for hyper-efficiency.

In his book "Understanding Media: The Extensions of Man", Marshall McLuhan wrote: "The medium is the message." The basic idea was that the medium itself was (at least) as important as the message it proposed to carry. This matters, since much of our communication uses mediums that suggest a lack of care or concern.

Inspired by two other consultant friends, every year I write and send handwritten cards for clients and key prospects. I try to send them by the end of November since many people take some time off during holidays.

This is an "old-school" initiative and one of the least efficient ways to send a message. It takes time to individually draft them. And the posting costs, although very small, are infinitely higher than sending an online message.

Wouldn't it be more efficient to simply send an email to my whole list of contacts, using custom fields to add their name to it? Yes. But doing it would also change the way my message will be perceived by the recipients.

The truth is some channels have become so widespread and ordinary that they are now commoditized. On our quest for hyper-efficiency and scale, we remove the meaning of the communication. The person who receives a "thank you" by email does not feel that you care.

Some of you might point out to some hypocrisy here since I'm usually a big advocate of streamlining activities, delegating, automating. The point stands. You can and should apply these to your marketing initiatives, especially to raise awareness and interest for your offerings.

But when it comes to nurturing relationships, a phone call is better than email. A video call is better than a phone call. And a face-to-face meeting is better than a video call.

The trick, as always, is ensuring you know what's really important and should be prioritized. 90% of the people you come across are happy to read your insights and learn more about your work online. You should employ your marketing initiatives to earn (a moderate level of) trust in scale.

But the other 10% deserve your time and attention. These are key contacts in your existing network, current and previous clients, and perfect-fit prospects with whom you want to build rapport. Whenever possible, choose the most inefficient medium - it will likely be the most effective one.

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