We have recently read half a dozen articles posted by marketers from diverse sectors, all making the same point. In a world where it is possible to reach out to customers using free or, at least cheap, tools, achieving cut-through is getting harder and harder.
We have said this ourselves in presentations to brands. According to TrackMaven, who looked at 13 million pieces of content from 8,800 brands over 24 months, the amount of content created by brands has increased by 78%. At the same time the engagement with that content has dropped by over 80%.
The bottom line: there’s much more content being produced and far fewer people taking any notice of it.
So what is the answer?
At the most basic level, the answer is by marketing in a way that your target customers can’t – or better yet don’t want to – ignore.
There are a number of ways that you can try to cut through and be the business that is not ignored:
- You can try to be the loudest (but that probably takes money)
- You could be the most controversial (although that could easily backfire)
- Or you could be the most creative
Creativity is the most valuable currency
Unless you have marketing budgets that can compete with the biggest brands in the world or in your sector or you have the guts to do something so outrageous that you can’t be ignored (and consequences be damned), then being creative is your best bet.
So what does that mean?
What it means for us at Freestak is the importance of content that people want to consume. So you have to start by knowing your audience. What are they interested in? What do they invest their attention on? What compels them to share a video or a blog post or an image with their friends?
The inconvenient truth here is that what your customers want to consume is probably not what the business you work for has been creating in the past. Historically, what businesses produced were advertisements. And they were designed to interrupt the content that people chose to spend their time consuming.
Occasionally, of course, an advertisement crosses the line and becomes something that people wanted to consume. But that is rare. Most of the time, advertisements are unwelcome, as evidenced by the rise of online adblocking software and research that showed that even six years ago, 90% of television viewers always skipped through the adverts on their digital video recorder.
How to get creative
So how can you reach customers in ways that they welcome? Here are a few ideas:
- Ask the audience: why not contact the people you want to talk to and ask them what they would like to read, watch or listen to? If you create content that you know will be popular, it is much more likely to be well received.
- Intentionally make your content interactive: one of the biggest changes in recent years is the way that consumers want to engage with brands, not just be sold to. So try to come up with content that your target audience can engage with (although also be aware that this can backfire).
- Get popular people to create content with you: your target customers are choosing to spend more and more of their attention on content created by influencers. For example bloggers and YouTubers. Find the right influencers to collaborate with and they will create content that is actively sought out, not avoided.
No silver bullet
Of course, there is no single, simple answer to how to reach your target market effectively. But undoubtedly doing what worked 20, 10 or even five years ago is not the answer. What has always been the case, but is truer now than ever, is that being creative is the best chance you have of making your voice heard.