What do you want your marketing to do? Generally, every answer will boil down to, “Help us make more money.” And the way you make more money is to just keep doing and saying what you’ve always been doing and saying… right?
As audiences mature, traditional marketing messages – even some as “new” as the ubiquitous banner ad (only 16% of users actually click on banner ads, and over 90% of clicks are generated by just 8% of users) just aren’t generating the traffic and buzz they used to. When you had just four television stations, getting heard was easy. Now, the level of noise is so intense that only the very creative and targeted (and rich!) are going to get noticed.
Marketing teams and agencies can get suckered into the role of “order taker” far too easily. All it takes is someone at the top committed to “what we’ve always done” to turn a creative marketing team into a junk content machine.
Saying, “We need a press release,” isn’t going to cut it. First things first: what do you want to accomplish with your communication? What do you want that message to do? How do you want people to feel about it? Who does that message need to hook and hold? Where does it need to be distributed? Would this message be more effective as a blog post? A Facebook update? Would it reach the target for that information more effectively in some other medium besides the local dailies (yawn)? What about Youtube? Pandora? Do you need to specifically target all of these mediums simultaneously, with an announcement specifically tailored for each audience?
Nobody minds being an order taker. Whether it’s your in-house marketing department, agency, or a freelancer. “I need a newspaper ad, a letter, a press release, that says X, Y, Z.” Sure. Anybody can do that. Jotting off a press release may take a skilled writer an hour or so, depending on the number of revisions. But if you want that release to be something other than an exercise in your firm’s due diligence in releasing information, you’re going to need to spend more time on strategy and creativity. And you will need to ask for that from the team who puts it together.
The easiest thing in the world is to just not rock the boat. As a writer, it’s much easier if somebody tells me they want me to flesh out a list of bullet points. But that’s never the best way to communicate information – it’s just the way we’ve “always” done it (since 1906, at least ).
Press releases and newspaper ads are the way we communicated with the tools available to us. New tools and new mediums mean we’re seeing an explosion in the ways we can find and speak with audiences. Today, it tends to be the very young or very big companies who are willing to take risks with these mediums. Traditional, mid-sized companies are much more conservative, and it means their messaging is generally lagging behind that of their larger or younger competitors. For a sobering peek into the world the way it’s viewed by the Millennial generation (our 2014 graduating class), click here.
Marketing and advertising is coming of age. So is our audience. As your audience gets more fragmented and more sophisticated, you need to respond with more targeted and creative messaging. Yes, it’s scary. Radio was scary to people who were used to print. TV was terrifying for marketers used to radio and print. Digital media is just as scary. But it also has the ability to reach the savvy consumers of the class of 2014.
Are you willing to speak to them on their turf?