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Say It Again -- and Again To get the attention of distracted consumers, use these three tips to bombard them from many mediums.

By Kim T. Gordon

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

What's the number-one goal of any well-rounded mediaprogram? To help customers remember and act on your messages.It's easy to say but far more difficult to accomplish. Not onlyare you fighting the clutter in individual media, but you'realso struggling for attention from consumers who are activelymultitasking.

New research shows 70 percent of all consumers, at one time oranother, use media simultaneously. While listening to the radio,for example, nearly 60 percent of consumers also go online, almost50 percent read a newspaper, and about 18 percent watch TV,according to the "Simultaneous Media Usage Study"conducted by BIGresearch, a consumer market intelligence firm, infall 2003.

Direct communication with consumers rarely occurs one-to-one,thanks to simultaneous media usage. Suppose you send your customersa direct-mail package. While reading it, nearly three-quarters ofthem will also watch TV, about 60 percent will listen to the radio,and 35 percent will even go online.

Gaining the attention of multitasking consumers isn't alwayseasy, but it can be successfully accomplished if you follow thesethree guidelines:

1. Choose relevant content. At least half of theBIGresearch survey respondents admit they pay attention to one typeof media more than another when they're using mediasimultaneously. That's not surprising, since we all knowit's virtually impossible to give equal attention to severalthings-such as a newspaper article and a TV ad-at the same time.This is where the importance of customer "engagement"comes into play.

With the proliferation of specialized media, it's easierthan ever to put your message in just the right context. The key isto so thoroughly understand the needs and desires of your bestprospects that you can run your ads or place your PR where you knowthose prospects will find the content most engaging. For example,suppose you were targeting new parents. You'd skip the generalconsumer media and place ads in online and offline media thatcontain ads and editorial focusing on early parenting issues-frombreast-feeding to educational toys. Chances are, the targetaudience would be more engaged in what they found there, even whilemultitasking, and consequently, pay more attention to yourmessage.

2. Avoid cluttered environments. Whenever tests ofmagazine advertising recall are performed, full-page ads are amongthe most memorable. That's because, alone on the page,they're less affected by clutter. Right now, clutter seriouslydetracts from advertising effectiveness in most media. Even newermedia, such as many websites, are becoming excessively cluttered.And placing your message in an overly busy environment can causeconsumers who are already multitasking to overlook your advertisingaltogether.

Take a critical look at your present media placements. Are yourprint ads buried on the page? Do your radio spots run fourth orfifth in line during commercial breaks? For better results, lookfor sponsorships or other opportunities that help you break awayfrom the pack instead of drowning in a sea of clutter.

3. Use multiple types of media. The ideal way to capturethe attention of your best prospects is to use multiple types ofmedia to surround them with your messages. In fact, multipleexposures to your message in different media will help prospectsremember it. And while you can't control their experienceentirely--by running a combination of TV, newspaper, magazine,direct-mail and online advertising all at once, for example-it ispossible for you to selectively choose multiple forms ofwell-targeted, engaging media to reach your multitaskingaudience.

Depending on your target audience, you could run radioadvertising and an online campaign, or perhaps your prospects wouldbe best reached through a combination of direct-mail and cable TVspots. For optimal results-and a memorable campaign-be sure tobuild on a unified message or theme that's carried through allmedia.

Kim Gordon is the owner of National Marketing Federation and is a multifaceted marketing expert, speaker, author and media spokesperson. Her latest book is Maximum Marketing, Minimum Dollars.

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