Last Updated: November 17, 2020

People are inundated with advertising nearly everywhere they turn. Whether they’re scanning the toothpaste label as they squeeze out a dollop, or wearing a t-shirt with an Old Navy logo on the front, they’re affected by a form of marketing. Marketing professionals are familiar with the “rule of seven”—the idea that it takes a consumer at least seven times to see a product or company advertising before he or she feels compelled to make a decision—and leverage it.

That said, people may deliberately ignore certain forms of advertising because, let’s face it, they can be obnoxious. The challenge for marketing professionals, then, is to slide the marketing and advertising into the consumer’s awareness without being irritating, or simply ignored. The goal of cross-media marketing is to put a company’s name and product front-of-mind continually, catching consumers in a variety of mediums. (See also Integrated Marketing)

What is cross-media marketing?

Cross-media marketing is what the name suggests—it involves using a variety of media forms to integrate your marketing message into peoples’ consciousness. Using a variety of media puts your company’s message in front of more consumers more often. Rather than marketing a product exclusively on a website, cross-marketers use a combination of mobile apps, paid search engine returns, link ads, television commercials, YouTube videos, content marketing, print brochures, radio and television ads, social media, and trade-show marketing. Many forms of cross-media marketing are so subtle that consumers often don’t realize they are being marketed to. (See also Stealth Marketing)

It would be foolish to spend an entire marketing budget on a website and not market that website through social media channels. In fact, one of the foundational principles of Internet cross-marketing is to spread your name, products, and links in as many places as possible. It’s difficult to determine who’s going to click through to your website from a comment on a blog; but when it happens, it’s yet another opportunity to invite activity.

Likewise, using multiple social media sites is a best practice. Die-hard tweeters may not resonate with LinkedIn, and Facebook fanatics may shy away from expressing themselves in 140 characters on Twitter. However, people with a product or service to sell shouldn’t be picky about their social mediums; all customers are welcome.

Who implements cross-media marketing?

Nearly every organization or company uses at least two forms of media to market their products or services (See also Multichannel Marketing). For example, moviegoers and television viewers don’t often register product placement, which is just one form of cross-media marketing. When a viewer’s watching American Idol, he or she might not realize that the judges are drinking from prominently placed Coca-Cola cups to advertise Coke.

5 Brain Burst Ideas

Cross-media marketing begins with creative brainstorming. Use these effective strategies to get started:

  • Ask yourself just before going to sleep, “How can I market my product best?” In the morning, you may have a fresh idea.
  • Ponder ideas while exercising. Moving shifts energy, and ideas come quickly with doses of endorphins.
  • Play on Pinterest. Looking at other bursts of ingenuity and creativity tend to spark your own.
  • If blocked, work on another project or take a break. Anxiety and stress are creativity killers.
  • Consider every idea. If you get an inspiration, keep your mind open. There may be something there.

Likewise, it’s no coincidence that while Disney puts out a new movie, the shelves at Target are being simultaneously stocked with a new line of dolls and toy figures featured in that movie—nor that schools and pediatricians suddenly have a vast supply of free Disney movie stickers to hand out to children. Cross-media marketing from one Disney movie extends to fast-food toys, backpacks, lunch boxes, clothing, shoes, coloring books, free prizes, and even “free swag” for new mothers leaving the hospital. Additionally, online cross-media promotion for a Disney film might include a smart phone app, a gaming website, a Facebook page, an online code to earn points or win a prize from an interactive website, and even advertising in school sponsorships.

Many companies use cross-media promotions and marketing campaigns to grow their business by placing themselves in front of customers’ consciousness as often as possible. Grocery and other retail stores use Facebook to announce sales and promotions, while also sending retail circulars by mail or email. Retail stores will also often use Facebook to ask customers what they want to see more of in stores, while simultaneously running a huge direct mail campaign and running television commercials featuring celebrity designers (See also Facebook Marketing). Many companies give away products through contests on blogs and also buy content marketing in the form of reviews.

This strategy works in other arenas as well. Many authors create cross-media promotions by offering calendars, CDs or podcasts of speeches, and giveaways through book tours and blog tours. Likewise, political organizations and candidates, non-profits and charities, and religious organizations also use cross-media marketing to grab the attention of potential donors, voters, and churchgoers.

For what kinds of customers is cross-media marketing effective?

10 Popular "As Seen on TV" Products

  • Ped Egg (pedicure scraper)
  • Pet Rider (car blanket)
  • Edge of Glory (knife sharpener)
  • Slim Away (zippered girdle)
  • Deep Romance (gem jewelry)
  • Aluma Wallet (security wallet)
  • Slice-O-Matic (vegetable slicer)
  • Lint Lizard (vacuum attachment for dryer)
  • Sticky Buddy (lint roller)
  • OrGreenic (“green”) Fry P an

Source: Huffington Post, “As Seen on TV: The Ten Hottest Products Right Now,” April 30, 2012

Every person is confronted with cross-media marketing on a daily basis. The more often they see a company message, the more they begin to identify with the company or product. Often repeatedly seeing or hearing about a company mitigates any original skepticism about a new product or company. As an example, people generally disbelieve any diet pill or supplement claim—until it’s featured as effective on Dr. Mehmet Oz’s television show, and offered for sale on his website. In other examples:

  • A working mother might see a car with logos for a housekeeping service, noting the clever name and the claim that it’s a green company. She then might receive a coupon inviting her to try the service for 50 percent off, in a direct mail piece. She might finally decide to call, once she sees a sign on the front lawn of her neighbor’s house.
  • A child who has seen a Disney movie will ask for a doll or figurine for their birthday, beg to sport a character backpack on the first day of school, and be simply gaga over a fancy princess dress and tiara. Parents tend to give in to frequent pestering—which is another reason why cross-media marketing is so effective.
  • Insomniacs might be persuaded that a new mop really is magical, or that a special knife will never ever dull, because of an “as seen on TV” (look right) infomercial. Then they see content marketing in the form of a blog review and are further persuaded. Once they finally come across the item at a local retail store, they finally purchase the product.

Customer awareness of a product grows every time they’re confronted with a form of advertising about the product. Each time it makes an impression and further solidifies the product as legitimate and well-known. Each impression increases the likelihood of a potential customer becoming an actual customer.

How is a cross-media marketing campaign developed?

Every business needs a comprehensive marketing strategy in place, and that strategy will almost certainly include cross-media marketing. A recent study conducted by Harvard Business School reported that retailers using cross-media marketing are more profitable than those that use only one channel for promotion.

The first step in building a strategy is to form a cohesive, consistent message that can be used across all media outlets. Making different claims, in different tones, across different outlets confuses consumers and causes suspicion (See also Brand Marketing). How you want to present yourself as a company is also a consideration. You won’t see Toyota promoting their cars on the Shopping Channel; yet, the Snuggie made millions of sales with their goofy low-budget television commercials and Internet sidebar “As Seen on TV” ads.


Can success be measured by Twitter followers? Here are some of the most popular tweeters:

  • Lady Gaga, 27,000,000+
  • Justin Bieber, 25,000,000+
  • Katy Perry, 24,000,000+
  • Rihanna, 23,000,000+
  • Britney Spears, 19,000,000+
  • Barack Obama, 18,000,000+


Using a comprehensive array of research tools will help you discover how to target your audience in the most effective ways. The Nielsen Company, for example, makes it its business to know who’s buying what, from where, and how best to keep your customers’ attention. Nielsen can tell you which television shows 12- to 17-year-olds are watching, or that breaded chicken breasts sell better at Albertsons than Walmart because of product placement and $1.00-off in-store coupons.

Additionally, social networking sites and search engines, such as Google, can be fantastic sources of information to discover what people are talking about and where they’re gathering. There are even research tools which help you determine what time your target audience is hanging out on Facebook or Twitter, which in turn allows you to set up social media posts at prime times. You can also glean information from the analytics of your own website, such as which posts are getting the most traffic, which geographic location readers are coming from, which tools and links they are clicking through to, and your general demographic.

When creating cross-media campaigns it’s best to designate a desired action. For example, your goal may be to strategize your cross-media campaign so that it drives readers to your website to pay for a print or online subscription. Therefore, to accomplish this you might create mobile applications, email newsletters, Facebook and Twitter accounts, YouTube videos with commentators, and podcasts with editorialists or financial experts; or, you might employ popular bloggers, and attempt to get links from other media sites. All of these marketing outlets can drive customers to the website; however, it’s important to determine in advance what strategies will actually work, rather than “throwing everything at the wall seeing what sticks.”

Depending on the size of your company, each of these steps may either involve one person wearing many hats or a staff of graphic designers, mobile app and tablet developers, website developers, copywriters, marketing managers, research analysts, and social media specialists. In a larger company, each of these players will have their own roles, while working together as a cohesive team to spread a web of marketing. (See also Careers in Marketing)

What career titles work with cross-media marketing?

Marketing Managers

Marketing Managers may direct cross-media marketing campaigns as part of an overall marketing strategy. They often also oversee a marketing staff.

What do they do?

What type of salary should I expect?

  • Marketing Manager
    Median annual pay: $116,010
    Top earners: $187,199+
  • Social Media Specialist
    Median annual pay: $35,550
    Top earners: $71,000+
  • Graphic Designer
    Median annual pay: $43,500
    Top earners: $76,910+

Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics; Mashable

  • oversee the overall marketing campaign, creating tone and feel, crafting an effective message
  • keep up on various new media and identify ways that cross-media marketing might be used effectively in those venues
  • develop creative strategies to introduce products and services in as many ways as possible, so that it stays in the forefront of people’s minds
  • negotiate agreements between third-party media sources such as bloggers, publications, media advertising departments, and cross-promotion companies
Education and Skills

The majority of marketing managers have, at minimum, a bachelor’s degree; however, the number of marketing managers with master’s degrees is on the rise. Managers have usually held a variety of marketing positions prior to managing the department. While in school, students cans benefit from the hands-on experience and mentoring an internship can provide. Often an internship can get a future marketer’s foot in the door of that particular company as well.

Social Media Specialists

Social Media Specialists strategize and run social media marketing campaigns designed to inform consumers about a product or service and drive them toward a specified action.

What do they do?
  • keep up on the latest, ever-changing, social media trends by watching consumer attention shifts; and by reading industry blogs, magazines, and other news outlets
  • strategize and implement social media marketing campaigns, utilizing tools such as TweetDeck, Network Blogs, or HootSuite
  • respond to consumer feedback on social media sites, as well as monitor analytical data containing trackable and provable results of the social media campaign
Education and Skills

Social media specialists generally have a marketing, business, communications, or advertising degree. However, much social media experience is hands-on, and learned through trial and error. Many people use social media in their daily lives and are already familiar with the tools. While an entry-level marketing position, work as a social media specialist can lead to project management and marketing manager positions within a company or agency.

Graphic Designers

Graphic Designers design the elements of a cross-media marketing campaign, maintaining consistency between media to encourage brand recognition.

What do they do?
  • design websites, logos, individualized Facebook and Twitter pages, banner ads, button ads, and other collateral to appeal to customers and deliver a consistently recognizable brand
  • keep up on the latest design techniques, and adjusting visual design elements accordingly
  • integrate function and usability into websites, social media accounts, and other forms of advertising using html and CSS code
  • design brochures, banners, signs and other forms of print collateral consistent with the brand
Education and Skills

Graphic designers usually have bachelor’s degrees in art and/or software development, although some may start with associate’s degrees from an art school. Designers will develop a portfolio with which to display their abilities; this can be built through internships as well as through their own personal projects.

How can a marketing school help you succeed?

Our Recommended Schools

  1. Grand Canyon University (GCU)

    GCU's Colangelo College of Business offers leading edge degrees that address the demands of contemporary business environments.

  2. Southern New Hampshire University (SNHU)

    Explore the bond between business and consumer behavior with a degree in marketing.

Communication is an integral part of cross-media marketing and promotional efforts, as it involves addressing a message to different audiences across a multitude of media outlets—from social media to television, websites, and strategic product placement. Marketing coursework focuses on teaching students to communicate in a way that elicits a desired response: buy, read, click, vote, join.

Marketing programs also instruct students how to acquire and interpret data. Marketers must know where they are most effective and most ineffective. They need to be able to look at analytic results and calculate conversion rates to interpret what adjustments must be made to improve results. A marketing school will give students ample opportunity to learn and employ various methods of data acquisition and interpretation.

Investigate several marketing programs before committing to one. Marketing programs also have specializations within the department, so sure to sign up for courses in several specializations prior to picking your particular specialization—you never know which set of skills will spark something in you.