Sometimes it’s still hard to talk to ‘traditional ad guys’ and get them to understand how the business of communications has changed, how the web has exploded the number of channels through which we can deliver messages and also empowered the consumer to respond, turning a monologue into dialogue and thereby giving them a voice. And how these evolutions have not just created a step change in the strategy of marketing communications but really created a paradigm shift in how we approach our work.
Hence it is still not uncommon to be presented with very traditional print or outdoor brand ads that deliver a static message with the hopethat it will touch the heartstrings of a particular consumer as they pass by the billboard on their way to work – it’s unfortunate but this approach is becoming less and less effective as the days go by.
There are of course multiple communications challenges beyond the brand brief, touching on promotions or cross-sell and line extensions, but work around the brand itself is still the mainstay of the advertising, marketing and communications businesses and I wanted to build a framework that would allow strategists and creatives to break out of their traditional mould and deliver real success – today success means engaging with a consumer and giving them value or utility not only from the product but also from the advertising message.
So this is content and amplification – hopefully two relatively simple steps that can allow us to cut through the clutter.
Firstly, content can mean a great deal, but above all it is more than a simple a message and not relegated to any particular media (truly media neutral) – in fact probably the reverse in that it can be in many different forms, be they audio-visual or text based, even beyond what we term multi-media. Content is also something that a consumer can engage with, it has depth, more so that the ‘storytelling’ that we have been pushing for the last few years – it can in fact almost become part of the product itself.
So when we brief for content we mean just that, how can we create, curate or empower our consumers to create content around a subject or idea that will either directly or indirectly deliver a brand message.
Secondly amplification is about bringing the media component back into the mix (we removed it by talking about content) and thinking about how our content is delivered to the consumer. But now we need to think about media from a paid-owned-earned perspective and try to balance these different pieces to get the best ROI for our investment – how can we seed the content through traditional paid routes, both online (display, search, etc.) and offline (TV, press, OOH, etc.) to obtain the quick critical mass necessary for connections, drive people to engage with it on the brand owned properties and then finally have them amplify it into their social graph for best effect? How can we make people want to consume the content, tease them and make it fun, almost like advertising the advertising…
Our objective is after all to get the most number of impressions, GRPs or contacts between the consumer target and our brand message, our content.
It’s not perfect, and by no means a one size fits all brief for any comms challenge, but a first step towards delivering brand communication that is relevant in today’s environment. Try it, change it, feedback.