The Rosetta Stone is iconic in the study of ancient Egypt. Champollion's translation of the Egyptian hieroglyphics by discovering their patterned similarities with the better-known Greek and Demotic language texts on the stone opened new doors of study. Yet, for all the historical significance and abundant knowledge made available by the work of Champollion and others, I think there is an important and relevant application to modern marketing in the multimedia age.

To find that application, we need to go back a bit further in history than the discovery of the stone in 1799. We need to go back to the creators of the content—Ptolemy V's Council of Priests (ca. 196 BCE). The priests created the stone as a decree of the ascension of Ptolemy, and because the message was of such great importance, it was inscribed in three languages: Greek for the administrators, Demotic for the readers of the common language and Egyptian hieroglyphics for the priests. I think the contemporary application becomes quickly obvious when we consider the priests' purpose and the significant effort involved in getting their message to targeted audiences.

"To effectively communicate, we have to speak a common language to each intended audience segment."

The priests understood that to reach their audience and communicate effectively, they needed to identify that audience and then provide targeted content in the most efficient manner possible. Sound familiar? I'm sure it does. The ancient Egyptian priests and modern marketing specialists have at least two things in common: a targeted audience and a message to spread. The priests knew their audiences well—at least well enough to render their message in three versions to ensure that those who needed to receive their proclamations would not only receive it but also understand it. This is the key. To effectively communicate, we have to speak a common language to each intended audience segment.

In the contemporary business world, for instance, many organizations serve both B2B and B2C segments. Within those segments, even further divisions occur; so, your message must be viewed and comprehended by a wide range of audiences. Targeting each specific segment requires not only language but also media consideration. While the executives of your B2B segment may well appreciate a detailed Flash sequence outlining your quarterlies, their technical resources might be looking for a flexible and powerful search tool into your support knowledge base that, most likely, would be neither understood nor appreciated by the executive segment.

Likewise, the communications to your B2B customers should be much different in context and language than those used to reach out to your B2C customers. A marketing video using family-friendly characters and language and backed by whimsical music, wholly appropriate for the B2C channel, would hardly be taken seriously by your vendors and investors—even were the content the same.

So, how would Ptolemy's Council of Priests approach your multimedia marketing challenges given the tools and context of contemporary business and marketing communications? Clearly, it was their intent to speak directly to each segment with a unique and highly focused presentment, maintaining the context and content of the message for each, while limited to a single media channel—carved stone. With the modern availability of multimedia and the increasing granularity of selected target audiences, the priests' challenge would be significantly more complex than their ancient outreach, but the method and principles remain the same. Consider your multimedia platform, whether web, tube or social media site, as your Rosetta Stone, and make certain that your organization's message is translated into the channels, media and languages appropriate to your target segments.

DAVID MARTINA is the vice president of Systems Integration for NEPS, LLC of Salem, New Hampshire, a firm that provides solutions for the automation of document-intensive business processes. For more, email


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