My 19-year-old son said something really interesting to me over a spoonful of stuffing, and an assortment of scattered turkey fragments over Thanksgiving. He says he gets most of his news off Facebook and Twitter. He says if it’s not there, he probably won’t know about it. (I did a Scooby-cartoon-double-take, “ur-ruh?!?”)
He just thumbs through his feeds like it’s a Vegas slot machine and stops on things that interest him. I think about this, reach for another helping and then ponder a little bit more. The next thing I know, I amassed a giant “Close Encounter of the Third Kind” mound of mashed potatoes. Apparently, my son’s verbal phaser was set on “stun”.
How could this be? What happened? I was ready to hyperventilate into a paper bag, but then realized I shouldn’t be surprised or stunned at all. This has been the way of it for over 100 years.
Usually, old technology gives way reluctantly to new technology. People flipped out over the very first telephone. RCA’s David Sarnoff blocked FM radio for years because he didn’t want it to damage his extremely profitable AM radio business or his future TV plans. It took forever for HDTV to push out analog. And well, there was 8-track. Those are just a couple of examples. Distribution constantly changes and that’s okay.
When you think about it, this is really the most exciting time in media since the advent of cable/satellite television in the 80’s. There’s so much more opportunity to reach people in different ways and platforms. It can be overwhelming and produce a Wilhelm Scream (or two).
Yep, it used to be simpler with just the TV networks (and their collective 90 share), a bunch of newspapers, magazines and mom-and-pop radio stations. Not anymore. The barriers of entry are falling. The democratization of media is rising. People are consuming (and producing) more than ever-everywhere. You can reach customers more directly.
All the so called ‘old media” isn’t dead (not even close), there’s just more people at the media party. It doesn’t help to freak out that there’s gobs more competition for attention. Just remember. Its been increasing for years. Every whisper can be a scream, right? However, one thing has remained relatively the same. Content.
All these new distractions mean that we have to focus on the media fundamentals “more than ever.” (You have to say that last part like the big voice guy in The Comedian movie trailer). Even though the number of distribution channels has exploded towards a mind-boggling number, you can still reach your people with memorable content. They are there. You have to offer smart, intentional media.
It’s more than just saying that content matters. It’s creating content THAT matters. The audience doesn’t really care about you. They are looking for what's in it for them. Therefore, you have to understand your audience. You have to offer something valuable and make them care even if they think they don’t. Robert Collier said many years ago that the secret of good marketing is to enter the conversation that is already going on in the mind of your customers. So, here's a few of the basics, anyway.
Be clear, concise, and conversational (and compelling!). Write like you talk, but from the audience point of view. Use action verbs. Grab their attention but don’t force it and try to fit in. Be authentic. As Mark Twain says, “Never write metropolis for seven cents when you can get the same for city.”
Find the right emotional angle. This is how your brand comes to life. Your customers are people. You have to make them feel something. What do you want you audience to feel? Lasting connections happen emotionally. Alfred Hitchcock says “emotion is the only thing that keeps his audiences interested”. Without emotion you might as well just be a stove or a desklamp.
All your marketing production supports a theme. Use the all power of media- sound, words and pictures. Your media can create excitement or achieve an effect. Why do you produce what you do? What if there was different ways you can reach people with your message? What’s next in the ways that you can reinforce your image, motivate your people to act, or have an impact? What is going to fit your brand?
If you’re crafting interesting stuff, you’ll gain attention and change some habits. Your media is the key to gaining the attention you need. Think it through. Blend the art of media with the science/data of the marketplace. Develop consistent compelling content. Have some fun. Take some risks and surprise people along the way. Just remember It's okay. We'll have new-new media coming, but your story remains true.
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About the Author
Mark Seignious, M.A., realizes his last name is a bit of an eye-chart. But, it rhymes with genius. Of course, after reading this post or others, you'll immediately know...it just rhymes. . He enjoys writing for Slate and Main plus shaping young minds as an Associate Professor at the University of Northwestern- St Paul. Insert Wilhelm Scream.