From a young age, many of us are taught the Golden Rule: Do unto others as you would have them do unto you. Treat thy neighbor as yourself. What goes around comes around. There are many ways to say it, but the message is always the same.
So why, when we grow up and become marketers, do so many of us forget this?
The Golden Rule of marketing is the same as the Golden Rule of anything else, with a slight twist—create for others’ consumption what you would want to consume. While we all surely have varying preferences, asking ourselves, “Would I want to consume this?” could go a long way toward helping us develop more compelling marketing material.
It may seem intuitive, but as a group, we marketers create an awful lot of content that we wouldn’t take the time to read. We write emails that we wouldn’t open. We use jargon and terminology that may make sense to us, but doesn’t align with the way audience members think or speak. We often get so entrenched in our marketing goals and self-centered mindsets that we forget to speak to the pain points and level of knowledge our customers and clients possess.
We’re marketing at a time when we can’t afford to lose audience interest, however. The “content revolution” is precipitating the creation of far more messaging than people could ever consume (The Onion even parodied this), and we must work progressively harder to create messaging that will stand out and stick with consumers. After all, we live in a TL;DR (too long; didn’t read) culture. Skimming articles has become the norm, yet we regularly write more than is necessary, prioritizing the sharing of information that suits our internal initiatives, not the needs of the customer.
So what is to be done?
Here are three basic tips for crafting content that your audience will want.
Craft Messages That Resonate
There’s no magic bullet for drawing in our audience every time—if there was, I’m not sure we’d need an American Marketing Association. There are, however, proven tactics for making our messages better, regardless of the topic. From books to readily available AMA resources, there are many places to turn when seeking to refine your message. Consider, for instance, the wisdom shared by the Heath brothers in “Made to Stick,” where they lay out the best means of spreading ideas that will last in the mind of your audience. Or check out “Contagious” by Jonah Berger, who has distilled what it takes to develop messaging that people want to share.
Think like Your Audience
Struggling to stop thinking like a brand marketer? Put yourself in your target audience’s shoes. Try creating buyer personas to remind yourself (and others) to speak to the nature and desires of a prospective customer. And don’t forget to consider what phase of the buying cycle they’re in—someone just exploring their options needs different info than someone ready to make a purchase.
You’ll realize quickly that the way you talk about a product or brand may not be the way a customer searches for it. The medium you’ve found convenient for disseminating your message may not be where the customer is looking. And the details you think are important may not be what your buyer truly cares about.
Say More with Less
One of the most difficult things to do is to leave out some details. Create enough messaging to get your audience interested, but don’t overdo it. In the sagely words of Sweet Brown, “Ain’t nobody got time for dat!” Your time is a precious commodity, and there are likely plenty of demands on it already. Your marketing audience members’ lives are no different. When you set out to communicate with them, give them what they need, in an appealing way, and do so as efficiently as possible.
We get excited about the products and services we offer sometimes—it’s natural. But we don’t have to relay all of that information in one place; we can always send the audience to learn more somewhere else if they are interested. So the next time you write that eBlast or article, read back through and ask yourself, “Would I read all of this? How much of this would I really need to know?”
The Golden Rule is pervasive in practically every culture, and for good reason. Start marketing to others the way you’d want to be marketed to, and you’ll be well on your way to more successful outcomes.