Putting More Thought In The Content We Create (A Solution)
Do we really pay attention anymore to product promotion messages because that’s the way the industry has always done it? There is a solution.
I really don’t want to come across as the neighbour who doesn’t throw the ball back when it comes over the fence here. When time and money has been spent on crafting content that has no appeal or opportunity to engage an audience, I find it sad that businesses just open the drawer and reskin what they have always done, namely shout loudly.
Take for example what was posted through my letterbox today from a local estate agent.
I seem to have a theme with estate agents, here is another example of shouting the loudest, click here for a read.
Those Who Claim They Are ‘It’ Are Not ‘It’
I don’t want to turn this article into a pure rant, but with the mix of pizza deals and Virgin/Sky offers, how is an A5 offer of a free marketing appraisal for my house going to make anybody take notice. The self congratulation of great service because ‘we told you so’ and the invitation for someone to come over and dangle a carrot in front of you with a free appraisal is the equivalent of Amazon giving you a free quotation if you would like to buy a Blu Ray player and the Lego movie on Blu Ray. The heart from the message is also lost by the person inviting you to get in touch is called ‘manager.’ It’s a bit like your partner sending out an invitation for your birthday to all your friends and the RSVP saying ‘husband of’ or ‘wife of.’
I could go on with this particular example, but it would be wrong to pour criticism on one particular piece of communication. What does become frustrating is that companies are effectively opening a window and throwing time and money at the same time from the third floor. It could be argued that a small run was printed, but someone had to layout the artwork and someone had to distribute throughout the neighbourhood. It wasn’t a 10-minute Mailchimp job of putting some pictures of two hands shaking or a set of house keys into a template and press the send button to everyone; time had been spent putting together.
A Bouquet Of Tulips
What I have issue with is that time is a commodity that none of us are every getting back and if we stick to the way that everyone else in our industry is doing it, then why bother at all. In a bouquet of tulips all that you are is another tulip.
There are times when we need to look at what we create a bit differently rather than looking to appeal to the masses with a message that the masses have already produced. We now have the opportunity to be more creative with our print and spend a fraction of the cost we used to pay ten years ago with the growth of digital production. The freedom we now have to create a message that invites others and to engage on a level allows us the opportunity to take advantage of technology that we have never had before. As an example, we all have production studios in our pockets and access to technology that we can become confident with, but many are still marketing as though it is 2004.
Coming back to the highlighted example, just because they are an estate agent doesn’t mean they are entitled to sell homes. To be good at what we do in the mid part of this decade is to earn peoples trust and be proud of what we are selling, rather than use it as an after thought. We now need to be seen in the places where people pay attention and whilst my hallway floor is something I sporadically pay attention to it is only for communication that is relevant to me.
What we need to focus on is to ‘do’ the work needed to draw people to our businesses. I may not necessarily be in the position to sell my property but if someone took the time to know who I am and whilst a mail merge to say ‘Dear Mark’ at the top of the page may not be the most cost effective way to connect with me at least be open with me and show me who the person is that would like to discuss things further, even just having an actual persons name on the email response.
Our predecessors have told us to behave a certain way to attract business, but the traits of disruption, interruption and self-promotion are now something that doesn’t belong in a world that has shifted considerably in a short space of time. A message that is based on purely selling is a dated marketing mechanism. We have now become better gatekeepers at the information we consume and with the bombardment on a daily basis on the screens that are in front of us; we have become better trained at accepting what is relevant to us. We will do anything that we can to escape consumption of advertising (how many actual commercials do you sit through when watching via the programmes you record or on YouTube?).
Spending time and money on marketing because you have always done it a particular way has now reached its sell by date. We now need to focus on the value we create for others with the content we produce. Control is now well and truly with the consumer and it is the responsibility for businesses to entertain, compel and become human in our approach to build trust.
For now, my door mat will sit patiently and wait for the next A5 promotional piece from another estate agent with a similar message and the only difference being the logo and a varying office@ or sales@ reply.
Starting To Round Up
Rather than finish this article on a negative, lets look at the opportunity it can provide. If the rest of the industry drag their feet along a well-worn road, then it’s time to start finding a route down a new path. Others might start following you, but at least you became well versed in getting from A to B first. Whether this is a different format of print, a way that informs the neighbourhood of what is happening within the local area (and doing this over a consistent basis, which is key), it is time to start to becoming regarded as a source of information rather than a one-off promotional tactic.
Lets learn from the communication we produce and evolve from the experiences we create. If we can express ourselves in a way that isn’t expected, we can start to carve a new direction.