Guest post by Jessica Ann (@itsjessicann), CEO and Creative Director of Jessica Ann Media, and author of Humanize Your Brand: How to Create Content that Connects with Your Customers.
We’re living in a post-advertising age. Instead of lamenting the past, or focusing on “the good ole’ days” of traditional marketing, we’re now being called to get more real. Everyone (and their mom) is affected by how we’re consuming the fast-paced media of today. And in turn, the content that we create is influencing the future of business. If you’re not proactively taking part in the profits and process of being more human, you’re missing out on the fun, authenticity, and serendipity that happens when you fuse technology with marketing.
If this sounds like some science-fiction meme out of The Matrix, you may (or may not) be right. It depends on the pill you take (do you want the red pill or the blue?)
Before we slide through another version of reality, we must understand that it’s not only the color of our content that matters – it’s the context behind the red or blue reality that we choose. The content that we create can act as a catalyst for cultural change – not only within your own company, but for the collective of business as a whole.
This means that marketers who strive for more meaning in their written messages will flourish. According to Demand Metric, 86% of people skip TV advertisements. Yet 60% of people are inspired to seek out a product after reading content about it. Businesses who conceptualize and create Human Content understand that the need for a massive cultural change within their organizations are building the new world on the web.
Here’s what will need to happen to create more meaning and cultural change. Human Content will need:
1. More empathy than traditional advertising.
This isn’t hard to do. Empathy is the undercurrent to the ebb and flow of sticky content. This incredible emotion is how we recognize ourselves and our lives in the stories of others, and it’s how we build relationships that foster connection with people and companies (big and small).
Breaking free from the oppressive mold of yesterday’s advertising (through the use of empathy) isn’t a trend. It’s not the future. It’s not a buzzword. It’s right now. And it’s liberating.
Companies who stop advertising and start humanizing are part of the transformative shift in business. Will you be one of them?
2. Context. Lots of context.
The former days of advertising had little context. The “spray and pray” approach often sends customers running in the opposite direction (often with their hands over their ears). But when we use human content, we add layers of context to effectively reach customers in a fun, informative way. This more personal way of communicating is needed (and necessary!) to thrive in the noisy world of today.
As consumers (and readers) of the interwebs, we’re looking for relevant and inspiring content to either 1) get us through our day or 2) educate us about a product or service so that we can make an eventual purchase. When Human Content connects with us in the right way, it builds relationships that help us to add even more context to what we’re creating.
3. Relevance and meaning
Many brands go out of their way to get as many eyeballs as possible. But consumers are getting smarter. If we’re going to be shown an ad, we want a good experience. We want to be left feeling better than we started (which is hard to do when most ads intrude into our personal space).
This brings us to the curious case of the chicken and the egg. Is the future of marketing “custom content” because of the sheer amount of of annoying ads (and the ability to block them)? Or is the future of marketing “custom content” because we have no other choice? This is a rhetorical question – because the answer is both. And the stats prove it.
According to Demand Metric, 78% of CMOs believe custom content is the future of marketing. And it’s no surprise that the young folks don’t like ads either: 8 out of 10 Millennials have clicked out of a website because they were turned off by an ‘irrelevant or intrusive ad.’
Instead of turning the younger generation (and everyone else) off, turn them on by creating Human Content that has empathy, context, relevance, and meaning. The upshot is that you’ll slowly create cultural change within your organizations because it’s more accessible and real – no matter the color of the pill you choose.