My television remote control got the better of me last night. Can you relate? I wanted to change the channel on my satellite system. To do so, you must first push the tiny “SAT” button at the top of the remote. Otherwise, the receiver won’t receive your commands. I kept pushing the up and down buttons but nothing changed. I changed the batteries. No luck. I cursed. I prayed. No luck. “This thing doesn’t work,” I barked. Then I remembered to push the “SAT” button. The satellite system was working perfectly well. I just didn’t know how to operate it. D’oh!

It wasn’t my proudest moment. I share this story with you because we as marketers often make the same mistake.

I met a business owner last week who declared: “Email marketing. I tried that. It doesn’t work.” I’ve heard others write off direct mail, social media, broadcast, and every other marketing medium in similar ways. “I tried that it doesn’t work.”

With all due respect, maybe (just maybe) that marketing medium works perfectly well, but you just don’t know how to operate it. I’m not trying to insult you. I’m trying to remind you that we often blame the machine for operator error.

Every marketing campaign depends on three elements: the market (are you reaching out to the right people?), the message (do you truly understand what those people want and how to offer it to them?) and the medium (what are the best ways to reach them and to deliver the message).

Before you blame the medium, ask yourself: Have I really targeted my market properly? Have I really framed the message properly. More often than not, the medium may work if the operator aims properly with the right message.

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