In April of 1979, the final episode of All in the Family drew 40 million viewers. In the same week of April in 2012—with the U.S. population having grown about 30% in the interim—the top-five English-language TV programs garnered 29 million viewers combined.

You know some of the causes: innumerable channels to choose from, video on the Internet, DVRs ... To give just one example: More people are using their tablet devices in the bedroom than are watching TV (apparently there is an app for everything).
Similarly, radio has seen substantial audience erosion thanks to Sirius/XM, iPods, streaming music sites, and people simply talking on their cell phones as they commute instead of listening. And we don’t even need to recap what’s become of the newspaper industry.

We are firmly planted in the Era of Fragmentation, and your potential customers have scattered like the shards of a broken mirror. The temptation is to follow them to the Internet—and certainly that should be a part of your plan. But if you think there are a lot of TV channels for your prospects to choose from, consider the nearly infinite number of websites.

So is it time to give up on traditional media? On the contrary: clients of mine are getting solid results and building their brands effectively, in radio, print, and television (and McDonald's and GEICO, among many others, don’t seem to have given up on TV). The key is in understanding that things have changed and adjusting your strategies accordingly. Want to avoid someone skipping past your spots with a DVR? Target news or sports programming. And so on.

Effective marketing has always been about doing a lot of little things right, but that has never been more true than it is today. With countless media outlets vying for the eyes and ears of your prospects, the proverbial marketing “home run” has become harder to come by … but if you’re consistently hitting singles and doubles, you can tally just as many runs.  —Jim Rafferty, principal of JMRketing, provides outsourced marketing leadership to companies in the home improvement industry and beyond.