“A message came back from the great beyond
There's fifty-seven channels and nothin' on
Fifty-seven channels and nothin' on”
When Bruce penned those lyrics almost 20 years ago, the not so subtle suggestion was that the expansion of cable TV choices had not resulted in a concomitant elevation in overall quality. Now, with 600 to 700 channels, that indictment has been writ large as any number of cable/satellite/Internet channels deliver far too little in the way of edifying content.
Ancillary to this, but perhaps much more important, the competition for “eyeballs” has driven an increasing polarity in the way individual channels position themselves. On one end, we have the many “news” channels that “ape” each other in the pursuit of the sensationalistic stories that hold the audience rapt with anticipation for the next salacious element in the narrative. At the other, much more plentiful end, are the hundreds of boutique/niche channels whose core mission is so narrow as to obviate any chance of delivering something unique on a 24 X 7 basis. Copying, stealing, sharing, repeating -- to the point of extremely diminishing returns.
In the digital/social media universe, we are risking much the same type of dilution of message that has become endemic in television. As enterprises increasingly avail themselves of every channel that might, at its endpoint, find one of their prospective customers, there exists the same risk of watering down the intent of the positioning/ messaging in which so many have invested so much.
I am cognizant of the foundation for successful branding and positioning strategy - consistency and repetition of the message across all media. But in the constantly expanding digital environment, where many of the channels have little or no cost to the user, might the competition for “eyeballs” devolve into an exercise that dilutes the core enterprise story and value proposition? Alternatively, with the increasing requirement to narrowcast to reach an expanding population of niche sub-segments, doesn't the new channel strategy become incredibly more complex as individual channels are allocated to serve a single unique niche target customer group?
As we complete the transition from marketing 1.0 to marketing 2.0, the advent of marketing 3.0 challenges marketers to adapt the strategy, planning, and execution of the marketing effort to embrace this increasing complexity and work to ensure that their chosen channels are delivering a message that their target constituencies find to be clear, concise and valuable.