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Broadcasting vs. Narrowcasting

I have worked in the field of marketing and public relations for 20 years and yet, I continue to be surprised when old strategies that work well take on a new name that can be confusing. Let's see, how long have I been doing narrowcasting? Probably my entire career because agencies, corporations, not-for-profit organisations, and public health institutions were not interested in conducting a narrowcasting media campaign. Many years ago, the strategy had many names, such as ethnic marketing, multicultural marketing, cross-cultural marketing, diversity marketing, and community outreach. Living in society today, for some odd reason, makes me think that using the term narrowcasting is attached to discrimination against certain groups of people. It's even challenging for me to say the word out loud with no one around to listen.

Over time, lessons in life have taught me that the only thing constant in life is change. It's essential to stay on the cutting edge of one's profession and be aware and connected to change. Strategically, my firm and colleagues have always focused our media and health promotion campaigns for certain priority audiences with key messages. We have used ethnography to study the entirety of people's lives: their work, family relations, religion, health, education, and other social habits. Since people experience these things simultaneously, our approach is holistic and true to how people live. At Promotions West, we don't just ask people what they do, instead, we observe behaviour and participate in their lives.

So, what's the difference between broadcasting and narrowcasting? Unlike broadcasting, which involves delivering information to the mass public, narrowcasting is a term that describes delivering information or media to a specific or narrow group of people. Narrowcasting helps your message to be clearly understood since you can speak in specific industry terminology and go into depth on use cases or details only your priority audience would understand.

In addition, narrowcasting is when you show any content that targets buyer profiles or audience groups. By limiting the access or by making the content highly personalized which renders it irrelevant to the non-target groups. The creative part of narrowcasting is that it allows you to abandon the broadcast strategy and create content with your priority audience or target group in mind. It helps to know your audience the way you would like to know a new friend. This refers to more than simply their profession or even their position as the decision-maker.

Narrowcasting utilises different tools and channels, such as social media platforms, digital signage, email marketing, and more. Investigating existing internet strategies on various websites is crucial for creating narrowcasting concepts. Here are some current narrowcasting strategies or techniques that have always been helpful, regardless of the label or name placed on the activity:

  • Digital Signage is a great example of narrowcasting because it's present in convenience stores, corporate offices, mail rooms, health facilities, universities, and public health facilities. For example, a digital screen at a local market can reach customers waiting in line and display ads that trigger the need to get tested for various health issues or it could increase impulse shopping in malls for items like a new iPhone, a new suit, shoes, a delicious cup of coffee, chocolates, or other items.

  • Community social media forums can enable consumers to discuss your brand when you give them a way to provide feedback. It's possible that connection and activity can increase customer loyalty when your audience believes you are listening to their ideas, opinions, and feedback. There are many platforms today that help to build stronger communities.

  • Podcasts. Over the past few years, there has been an explosion of podcasts and podcast-hosting sites. It allows one's priority audience to stay connected and informed about a topic of interest while doing other activities, such as cooking, walking, exercising, shopping, or commuting to work. Whether it's a quick update on how to use YouTube, how to create a podcast, how to write a blog, how to prepare a great meal, or how to make the best gin martini, the audience can get highly targeted content through narrowcasting mediums and share it with their friends and colleagues.

  • Paid or Non-Paid Advertising can be used to develop clear and concise messages focused on your priority audience.

Narrowcasting is effective for addressing target demographics when combined with tailored and specialized information. To be successful and effective, a strategic plan must be in place that is both clear and detailed. The following factors should be a part of your strategy:

  1. Identify the priority audience you want to reach.

  2. Understand their location and where they go shopping, socialising, getting their hair cut, where they go to eat or have a cocktail, if they are religious, etc.

  3. When doing a media or social marketing campaign, remember to measure it through analytics.

  4. Try not to focus on just a single content. Always generate new media through marketing and social listening.

  5. Evaluate where they consume news or other information. Discover the best media that the priority audience uses to get information.

  6. Encourage participation through focus or roundtable discussion groups that provide lunch or dinner and financial incentives to show your authentic appreciation of their time and ideas.

  7. The most important tip is to get feedback from your priority audience by actively listening to what is being said and hearing what is not verbalised.

When focusing on a specific priority audience funds can be saved by designing each campaign to reach them. When feeling a bit nervous or insecure about the next steps, we would recommend reaching out to those community stakeholders and key members of your priority audience for advice and their ideas. Including key members of the community in the process can always lead to a successful campaign supported by your priority audience.

Good luck with your next public relations or marketing campaign. If you have any questions, please feel free to contact us at Promotions West with your questions and we will provide you with a few helpful tips.

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