Lend Us Your Eyes
Everyone wants eyeballs on their content. But humans have the attention span of a gnat. Such is the Catch 22 of modern marketing.
By 2020, half the world’s population will be online every day. That’s almost four billion people, and the average attention span of those people is about eight seconds and declining all the time.
So long gone are the days of folks sitting down with the newspaper (and accompanying newsprint on their fingers) for a few hours, it’s almost impossible to imagine anymore.
The competition among marketers for those eight seconds of our attention is fierce, and the ways to get it are many. Only a strategy that employs a multimedia approach has a fighting chance of engaging your target audiences.
Different Learning Styles, Different Media
Even more important than identifying what kinds of content to produce (the list is long) is understanding why and for whom it should be created. People learn and engage in a variety of ways and through many different media channels. Generally, there are three different learning styles: visual, auditory, and kinesthetic (learning through touch).
Visual Is King
Nearly everyone processes visual content more quickly and easily than text. It also stays in our long-term memory longer. This is why videos, photos, animations, webcasts, slideshares, and infographics are so important to a robust marketing campaign. Most smart phones today have high-quality camcorders, so producing simple videos and uploading them to YouTube (the second most popular search engine after Google) is inexpensive and relatively straightforward, as long as your content is engaging, meaningful and consumer-centric. And super awesome, too.
Multimedia utilizes all learning styles and appeals to almost all consumers.
Where Is Your Audience?
So Many Screens. Reaching consumers on the platforms they frequent is every bit as important as the types of media you choose to deliver your messages. The average adult 18 and older spends as many as 11 hours a day looking at a screen. Most of that time is spent watching live TV, and a large portion (almost two and a half hours) is spent on a smartphone. Only about a half hour is spent at a desktop computer (outside of work) or on a tablet.
Social Media. While Facebook has become decidedly uncool among people under 25, 72 percent of Facebook users are between the ages of 50 and 64, and 62 percent of seniors 65+ are on Facebook. Younger audiences live on YouTube, Snapchat, Instagram and binge-worthy TV, such as “Game of Thrones.” Brands are also wise to leverage Twitter, where 37 percent of people aged 18-29 and 25 percent aged 30-49 follow their favorite celebrities, athletes and politicos. About 347,222 tweets go out per minute.
WWW. Your website is your virtual front door. This is where all your owned content lives and where prospects will either engage with you or move on to your competitor’s site. It’s safe to say that nearly all segments of society consult and expect comprehensive information from a website and have at least a basic understanding of how to navigate around. A killer website is an absolute must for all businesses today, no matter how small. There are just too many fish in the digital sea for anything less.
Print. Print is still a viable marketing medium, even in today’s online world, and resonates more with older audiences who still value the experience of receiving something tangible in the mail. Print also has special appeal to those who learn best through tactile experiences, as modern printing presses can do some amazing things with surface texture!
Email. Nearly 4 billion people across the world use email, up 100 million from last year. Needless to say, email campaigns are also still relevant, especially if they include good storytelling, personalization and interactive features.
Consumers Demand It
There’s no going back to the days of three media: print, radio and TV, none of which facilitated any conversation with audiences. Today’s consumers are “prosumers,” active participants in the buyer journey with the ability – and willingness – to advocate, critique, persuade, dissuade, advise, share, upload, download, and build up or tear down a brand before the entire world. They demand engagement – experiences – and only a multimedia marketing approach will satisfy them. Anything less will knock your brand back into the dark ages and leave you wanting for leads and customers.
Let our team of experts help you strategize, develop and deliver the best multimedia campaigns for your unique audiences.
IVY MARKETING GROUP. COME GROW WITH US.
In Part I of our series on good listening for great marketing, we opened with what makes for poor listening and, thus, less effective marketing. We noted that less than sensitive listening is also bad for interpersonal relationships.
Here in Part II, we’ll focus on how good listening leads to good storytelling and, therefore, great marketing. Because, after all, everyone loves a story and people buy a story, not a brand.
Many businesses and companies retain marketing/PR agencies on whom they rely to capture and share their unique stories. If these agencies are doing their jobs well, they employ a team of curious, thoughtful writers, designers and media specialists who know the right questions to ask, with their clients’ audiences in mind, and can cull a great story that resonates with them.
Even small firms with small budgets, or no budget at all for marketing and PR, can benefit from employing the listening skills that lead to standout stories. But it’s not easy. So much goes into the storytelling process, long before the first word is said. In fact, though skilled writing and graphic rendering is essential, it’s the groundwork that determines the quality of the finished product.
Let’s explore something we at IVY call CLIQUE, the basic elements behind a great story:
At its core, content marketing is storytelling. Still, some companies and organizations are unconvinced that blogs, social media, press releases, feature articles, email campaigns, white papers, case studies, newsletters, direct mail, and other manifestations of a story are as critical to successful marketing as they really are.
The belief still lingers that the mere existence of a product or service, along with traditional advertising and a website, is sufficient. “We’re here; they’ll come to us,” is sometimes the mentality. But, more often than not, that statement becomes a question: “We’re here; why aren’t they coming to us?”
In this age of content marketing, consumers are “prosumers,” active and reactive participants in the buyer journey, and only content that is personally meaningful will inspire them.
And the only way to motivate consumers is to commit to a robust content marketing strategy. Modern marketing requires a change in paradigm and a resolve to reach ears and eyeballs through the hard work of creating content into which audiences choose to insert themselves.
Imagine you are tasked with telling someone what someone else said. What’s needed to do that? Active listening. As we noted in Part I, listening is a skill, not a physical ability. It requires rapt attention without agenda, pre-occupation, judgment, insincerity, impatience, trivializing, or interruption.
Only by truly absorbing what is being expressed can it be accurately and effectively conveyed. This is where a marketing and PR team is key. Professional writers, designers and media specialists are trained listeners whose keen attention to detail and ability to discern what is pertinent, central and unique to your story is invaluable.
Between listening and questioning is introspection – that period, however brief, during which skilled listeners internalize what’s being conveyed to them and mentally prepare for the next phase of outgoing questions that will further shape a story. Among many, some of the questions they will ask themselves are: What is the heart of this story? What is special about this person or enterprise? What information is critical, and what is less relevant? How can I share this story in a way that will move audiences?
The process of introspection is extemporaneous, yet highly acute. No matter how much preparation is devoted to an interview or session with someone whose story will be told, conversations can go in any number of directions, and trained listeners must have the ability to think, guide and digest information on their feet.
While experienced storytellers can make it appear that their questions are off the cuff, they’re anything but. Their inquiries are made only after they’ve listened attentively to their subject(s) and practiced the introspection discussed above. People are endlessly busy, and time is of the essence. Trained listeners do not waste precious face or phone time by asking questions that a) can be answered by a Google search; or b) will not benefit the story in a meaningful, purposeful way.
Asking the right questions is a crucial part of the storytelling process, and questions cannot be squandered. Knowing which ones to ask is the art of a great listener – and a great storyteller.
Great listening leads to real understanding. In fact, “I understand” are some of the most affirming words. A gifted storyteller has not simply heard, but deeply grasped, the details, nuances and significance of the story he or she will craft. They “get it.” It is only with genuine understanding that the heart of a story can emerge.
The final phase of storytelling is the actual telling of it. Today, there are more channels through which to tell a story than ever before, and to have real impact, marketers need to leverage them all. This takes time, talent and a constant finger on the trends and changes not only in the marketing industry, but in one’s own vertical as well.
Beginning with a commitment to employ a content marketing strategy that enables the immeasurable power of storytelling, today’s businesses and organizations can begin a new and very exciting chapter in return on investment.
Let our team of skilled listeners and experienced storytellers share your great story with the world.
Content marketing is king in today’s world of online communications. But what is it, exactly? While the term is ubiquitous across all of modern marketing, it is still rather mysterious, even to those in the business. In the spirit of the holiday season, let’s lay it out like a wish list—all that we want in successful content marketing, and how to get it
- Audience relationships – Notice it’s not audience purchases. That’s intentional, and it’s huge. Making relationships, not sales, is the essence of content marketing and the reason we do it.
- Engaging content – This is the principal component of developing and maintaining relationships with prospects and customers. Without it, there is no hope of a lasting relationship, or even a first hello. Engaging means interesting, informative, problem solving, thought-provoking, entertaining, delighting…and doing each of these things very well individually and sometimes all at once.
- Knowledge of audience – This one’s as old as the hills, right? Yet, with all the countless messages on the Internet, yours must not only capture attention, but keep it and bring it back time and again. It’s imperative to know whom you’re talking to. Data analytics, buyer personas, content audits and other targeting tools are invaluable to a successful content marketing strategy.
- Audience trust – We are not selling…we are not selling…we are not selling. This should be the mantra of every content marketer. Trust is built by providing content that is engaging, not sales-focused. (Hint: this trust then turns into sales.)
- Audience loyalty – This is the natural consequence of gaining audiences’ trust. Consumers will want to come back to those who engage them meaningfully and will share not only your media, but also their experiences with your brand. Word of mouth is still the most effective marketing strategy of all.
- Transparency – Consumers are anything but ignorant or gullible. They are smart, savvy, and they know what they want and how to get it. They are “prosumers,” and they can smell a sales ploy and false or exaggerated information from a mile away. Without transparency, there is no audience trust.
- Credibility – A close cousin of audience trust is credibility, demonstrating to consumers that you are uniquely qualified in your space and buttressing your expertise with links and references to other respected sources. Any awards, certifications and accreditations you have should also be conveyed.
- Multiple online media – Social media platforms, blogs, e-newsletters, post boosters, landing pages, interactive forms, visual media, press releases…the list goes on. Your brand needs original and curated content across multiple media to be truly effective in building meaningful customer relationships.
- SEO expertise – Fresh, regularly updated content not only engages your audiences, it influences the way search engines rank your site. Knowing how to employ SEO (search engine optimization) is key in driving traffic to your site and implementing a successful content marketing strategy.
- Responsive design – Audiences have more ways to engage with your brand than ever—desktop, laptop, phone, tablet, and the soon-to-come Internet of Things. Your content marketing must fit people where they are, not only metaphorically, but literally too—conforming to screen size, platform, orientation, and other electronic factors.
All any business or organization really wants is great content marketing. This holiday season and beyond, let our team of experts earn you the best gift of all: lasting consumer relationships.
IVY MARKETING GROUP. COME GROW WITH US.