In the early part of my career, I had a formative experience that changes, forever, the way I think about great content. Educated as a public relations practitioner, I was trained to look at storytelling as building a great narrative in words. Whether compelling someone to buy a product, marketing a service or managing a crisis, my stalwart belief was that a well-crafted, written story was the most effective means of content.
One sunny afternoon, sitting in the office of the CEO of a local bank, I rolled out a content strategy to help the organization with reputation management and customer acquisition. I was thrilled by the reaction. Which made me less ready for what was about to come. My business partner, a seasoned executive creative director, rolled out a visual campaign to augment my strategy. The gasps and positive response in the room cemented a key lesson for me – great creative, visual creative matters more to most people than anything written.
The advent and saturation of the internet has radically strengthened this reality. Because it results in constant movement from one screen to another, the internet has effectively eliminated attention spans and made visual creative more essential. Short form videos, visual storytelling and infographics are the order of the day, whether you’re selling lemonade or medical devices.
The question is how to effectively reconcile this reality into developing website and digital marketing campaigns. It remains critically important that the technology design, marketing automation and architecture of a site be central considerations. Yet buyers of sites increasingly make purchasing decisions the same way they might if they were consuming content one the web – they want dynamic visuals that drive an entertaining, experiential outcome.
Entertainment is Key
Recently, Boston Digital, conducted a survey asking consumers what they are looking for when they follow a social media page of a popular brand. 26% of consumers reported following pages for helpful information related to a hobby and 21% followed for funny or interesting content. Consumers are looking for their go to brands to provide not only product-centric information – but their entertainment. What this means is, even if you are selling a complex business solution, you need a content strategy that holds the attention of visitors by offering some modicum of entertainment.
In many cases, this means video. 72% of customers prefer learning about a product or service through video. And they retain 95% of the message from the video. That’s not surprising if you consider this other stat: visuals are processed 60,000 times faster in the brain than text.
That doesn’t mean turning you experience into a video loop or something less than serious. It means communicating your content strategy through easy to digest visual experiences that are memorable and easy to pass among group. This needs to be at the root of any content strategy. And to make it work, you need to bring everyone into the room early – from strategists, to researchers to campaign architects and creatives. Creativity needs to be emphasized as the core catalyst to drive the content and experience.
Credit the Impulse Generation
Over the next 5-10 years, I expect people’s already short attention spans to become even shorter as we continue to be reprogramed by our mobile devices, smart watches and plethora of screens everywhere we look. Every age group has been reprogrammed by the internet and mobile to behave in the same way.
What does it take to capture this Impulse Generation, that is defined by their constant connectedness, high expectations, fast decision making and short attention spans? We need to get their attention with stunning creative visuals and then hold it with story-telling and entertaining content. Winning organizations will master the paradigm by factoring great creative into the story.