Mary Shelley’s brilliant 19th century horror novel, Frankenstein, is a cautionary tale of technology run amok. CMOs in 2017 face no shortage of challenges due to technology. In the relentless drive to stay relevant, differentiate oneself and build a brand, marketers are leveraging all of their assets (e.g. web, social and email) to stay connected to clients. Unfortunately, while technology has improved accessibility, it becomes a monster to continuously fill the void. It’s important to not let the medium obscure the message. Let’s remember the basics of what makes for great content: conversation, context and community.
Conversation: is your message (relevant, meaningful, differentiated) to your audience?
Context: does your message answer the question, “what do I do with this information?”
Community: is your message designed for a specific community with similar interests?
Here are some suggestions for delivering content that engages your clients (whether you operate B2B or B2C):
- Ask them what they are reading or watching – what stands out? Why?
- Be sure you know what keeps your clients up at night.
- Understand what their clients are asking – this informs what they need from you.
- Understand how they communicate with their clients. How can you help?
- Survey them regarding your content – is it relevant? What do they like? What’s missing?
- Ensure your communication has a point of view.
- Put their concerns in the message. Never make it about you.
- Take risks. Be provocative. Originality counts. Stand out!
- Speak plainly in a way that makes sense.
- Connect the dots for your clients. Why should they care?
- Answer the question: what should I do with this info? Is there a call to action?
- Appreciate the fact that you are competing for their attention.
- Mix the experience medium: try visuals, podcasts and video.
- Strive for both maximum messaging and brevity.
As a panelist at a recent industry conference I shared several examples that, in my opinion, represent top of class content:
Content is probably one of the most underleveraged assets used by marketing. It should be the foundation for building your brand. Disconnected messaging across all your delivery tools ends up building a Frankenstein. Make sure that as you put your content out in the world, the message is consistently delivered across all the contact points (e.g. email, social and web).
Hollywood and Content
Exiting a theatre with friends after viewing Blade Runner 2049, I was fearful of the inevitable question: did you like it? Fearful, because I had recommended we see the movie. My own feelings were mixed. Like the original, it was visually stunning. But, here’s the catch: I sat in the dark for two hours and forty-three minutes trying to figure out what was going on. The only clear takeaway was that in a future world, replicants (bioengineered robots) are seen as technology gone bad and a threat to mankind.
This is a problem that vexes storytellers everywhere. George Lucas had the same problem in creating the fictional world of Star Wars until he hit upon the solution of the now famous opening crawl to put the story in context. Maybe Blade Runner 2049 is destined to become a cult classic, but let’s give director Denis Villeneuve credit for commissioning three short prequels to fill in the gaps between the original and latest Blade Runner movies. I wish I had seen them before the movie – strongly recommended! Here they are: