Email, social media, direct mail, phone calls, we are bombarded with communications every day. As business owners, we’re also constantly creating messages. We all want our blog posts to be read, our videos to be watched, for people to engage with our posts, and of course, we want to make sales.
While the answer to ‘how do I get in front of more people’ may often be, ‘create more content’, you need to think about it from your audience’s point of view. Do they know why you are communicating with them, as individuals?
Communicating in a fractured world
Two occasions got me thinking about this topic. The first is that local elections are taking place in England next month and so we are getting leaflets through the door. Are residents aware of what these elections are about? Do they know why they should bother to vote? How can parties communicate in a way which encourages participation?
The second was the death of Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh. This led to the BBC cancelling scheduled programming, causing a wave of complaints. Why, people asked on Twitter, should the death of the longest serving consort of a British monarch be of interest to them? Both the BBC and ITV saw a drop in viewers on April 9.
We live in a fractured world. Where just 25 years ago there were only 4 terrestrial TV channels in the UK, and far fewer radio stations than today, now there are a plethora of places where we can get information and analysis of what is happening in the world. This includes social media. While millions of people use platforms such as Facebook, Twitter and Youtube, each person sees different messages depending on their preferences and what the computer programs think they will like. Then there is the wealth of online publications, blogs, message boards, and email subscriptions.
The world is noisier and although we live in an ‘information age’ it is easy to avoid being informed about matters which affect us as a community or a nation.
What does this mean for your marketing?
Humans are selfish. We always want to know what’s in it for us. Whenever you are writing or recording, you need to think about how your message will be received by someone asking, ‘what’s this got to do with me?’
You need to show them it is relevant, or catch their interest. And be aware that what is relevant and interesting to one part of your audience, might not be to another.
For instance, what is the impact of voting in local elections? What are the benefits? Give people specifics. Voting in x party will mean y happens. Make it about the voter, not the political party. This is where market research really comes in useful because you know what the key issues are.
The death of Prince Philip is of constitutional interest but, like local elections, that’s only going to catch the attention of a small group of people. It is also the end of a love story; and an opportunity to tell a story which many people had not heard, how he was a refugee, that he did not have a stable, well off childhood, that he was a war hero, and that the royal household saw him as an outsider. While he may have been firmly part of the establishment when he died, he was nothing of the kind until he got married.
How do you make yourself relevant?
Focus on why someone is on your email list, or has clicked on a link to your article or video. What was their intention? What are they looking for?
If you are communicating to a new audience, perhaps by appearing in a newspaper or magazine, giving a presentation to someone else’s community, or advertising, think about what will appeal to them. What will stop them scrolling? Or make them set aside the time they need to pay attention to your message?
You are disrupting people’s schedule. They didn’t intend to spend time reading or watching your information, unless they saw the title of your talk and put it down in their diary. You need to make it clear why you are communicating with them and why they should give you their attention.