Tuesday, April 3, 2018

Creating Impactful Advertising in a World of Distractions

Terence Winter, the guy behind Boardwalk Empire, once said, “Any distraction tends to get in the way of being an effective gangster.”

So why are we citing Mr. Winter? 

Mostly because it sounds cool. But it’s also true. And not just for gangsters. While the wild world of digital has opened multiple doors for marketers and advertisers, the countless distractions that are part and parcel with this medium have made it more difficult to create impactful advertising. 

Your Target Market Is Surrounded By Distractions 

Some studies suggest that the average consumer is exposed to up to 10,000 brand messages per day. And that’s today. As marketers have increasing numbers of channels to reach their customers, that number will keep climbing.

Add to that how often people switch between screens. That figure currently stands at around 21 times. No, not per day. Per hour. Short attention spans are seriously trending. #WaitWhat

And it turns out that the short attention span is the perfect petri dish for growing that marketing bacteria strain known as click bait. Honestly, click bait is gross. Like bacteria. Plus it rarely offers any real value. Like bacteria. It’s a desperate attempt to get attention and is devoid of anything of value to a potential customer.

So Consider What the Customer Needs Vs. What You Wish to Achieve

When marketers understand precisely who the customer is, they are better equipped to create attention-grabbing campaigns that also add value. A tall order these days.

To shoot through the distractions, companies need to create simpler messages. And they need to communicate them in a sharper way. But not in the repeated stabbing manner of click bait. Rather, companies should be sharpening their focus on what we’ll call the Three Es of Impactful Advertising: 

  • Entertain
  • Emote
  • Engage

(Humor helps too. But the "Three Es and An H of Impactful Advertising" doesn’t deliver the same punch. So we’ll blend it in with Emote.)

That’s why it’s essential that your company understands its customers. For example, let’s say you run a funeral home. Most see this as a somber business. You don’t agree because, well, you went into the business. And it doesn’t seem all that dark to you. So in an effort to make things more light-hearted, you decide your advertising needs to be humorous. Put the “fun” back in funeral.  

Super bad idea. It would be akin to running a toy company
and employing a knife-wielding clown as your spokesperson. Or any clown. Because they’re just plain frightening. To nutshell it, marketing will have more impact if it elicits the right emotions for your target market. 

Once you’ve got some solid content that’s entertaining, emotional and/or engaging, consider this:

You Can Also Take Advantage of the Distractions

Though this applies across all forms of advertising, it’s particularly relevant to advertising on social. 

Once again, using distractions to your advantage requires you to know, first and foremost, the specific audience segment you wish to target. Of course, there will be multiple segments. But trying to go for all of them at once is a waste of resources. So focus on audience that’s most likely to be moved by your message and then blanket the social sites they frequent with advertising that doesn’t look or feel like advertising. This is also known as native advertising. 

Native advertising isn’t about earning clicks. Rather, it serves to provide value through the above-mentioned relevant content. Now, pay attention. Ask yourself, what’s catching your audience’s attention while they’re crawling around online with 13 tabs open at the same time? What, pray tell, is the buzz?

Know What’s Trending 

Get familiar with what’s relevant on every platform and channel your audience is reading. Then adjust your campaign to focus on what’s in demand. Most platforms offer some sort of tool that indicates what’s trending. Some can even give you measurements of the engagement levels of certain articles and topics. 

Check in with Reddit, who brand themselves “the front page of the internet.” Cuz they sorta are. You’re bound to get some juicy trending nuggets there. You can also use tools that are devoted specifically to scouring and sharing top headlines - some of which are free, while others charge a fee.

Streamline Your Execution

Trends happen fast. So forget about over-planning. You have to take action. 

That means if your spirit animal is a manatee or a sloth, then turn things over to those guided by the hummingbird or the ferret. Start streamlining that execution. Set some ground rules - like avoiding any topics of a political or traumatic nature. That’s just good practice. And be sure everyone’s on board with a brand persona that defines how your brand positions itself and why. Be clear about your values. 

Then get on it. While using trends to your advantage, it’s best to tweak timely campaigns in motion and learn as you go. Consider outsourcing the ad buy portion so you can keep
your focus on creative reworking as needed. And plan on having someone specifically monitoring your campaigns regularly so they can keep pace with trends rather than just analyzing the facts and watching your competitors grab your audience. 

The ultimate goal? Your company is trending. Or course, for all the right reasons… 

Is Your Content up to Snuff?

Whether you’re cutting through the distractions or using them to your advantage, it don’t mean a thing if you ain’t got that swing. And that swing is content.

Yes, you’ll need to fine-tune your strategy to find the most timely placement so you’ll be popping up multiple times. But what’s the point of getting premium real estate if you don’t have anything to to put on it? Or, even worse, populating it with false or misleading content. 

Know your audience. Know what they want and what they need. Know those important touch points so you - and NOTHING else - will be at the top of the their minds when the time comes to make a purchase. Distractions be damned.

Or just maybe, blessed. 

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