As a marketer in a time-starved world, you are walking a fine line when it comes to gaining your audience’s attention and keeping their attention. These are two very different things. One requires an experience with personality. The other requires a streamlined presentation.
In order to gain their attention, you need to establish personality on some level. You need to create a brand that gives you the space to establish the all-important emotional connection. Without that connection, you have little chance of standing out from your competition and rising above commodity provider status.
At the same time, a significant portion of your audience at any given moment isn’t really interested in your story. They just want the facts. As in, “Answer my questions so I can be on my way.” No fluff, no filler, no backstory.
Brand and Content Must Be Married
Together, these two truths mean that in order to create a great online presence, you need to find a way to bake your personality into the experience itself. So rather than having a really clever animation occupying center stage on your home page (and annoying those folks who really just want to get where they’re going), your personality needs to shine through in how you present not just your story/brand, but also in how you present “just the facts.”
New Content Formats
This will have an impact on the content you create. The spreadsheet that was OK a decade ago — and may still be just what the doctor ordered, depending on your audience — is, in many cases, better presented as an infographic now. The thousand-word treatise on how a client can tell whether they’ll benefit from your expertise will be more effective as a short video. (With an illustrated, annotated version of the treatise available for those who prefer to consume your content that way.)
So you don’t just need great content now. You need to produce that content in ways that take more creativity, effort, and, yes, budget, than a couple of paragraphs of text would.
As if that’s not challenge enough, we marketers also need to keep in mind the venerable ideas of Steve Krug. The title of his book says it all: Don’t Make Me Think. It is about web usability most directly, but applies to digital marketing much more broadly. It is well worth the read.
Exceed Expectations, Don’t Explode Them
His message is that your creativity can’t challenge your audience’s expectations to the point of confusion — even momentary confusion. People expect a contact link on the right-hand side of your main menu or your header. Is there any compelling reason to move it to the lower left? Or to call it “reach out” instead of Contact? Maybe, but you’d better be sure that your audience agrees with you.
Have you been wrestling with this balance? I would love to hear from you if you’d be willing to share your story, even anonymously, and would be thrilled to share the experiences of any of you who have succeeded in striking a balance that works for your marketing and your organization.