Compelling marketing helps consumers remember a product or brand through generating an emotional response. It also seems to be the marketer’s panacea in today’s world of rapidly changing technology.
Given advances with the Internet and smartphones, one challenge for today’s marketers is a more discerning consumer with a shorter attention span.
There are three ways in which technology has fundamentally changed how marketers talk to prospects and existing customers, according to Ron Tite, a branding and creativity expert and president of The Tite Group.
First, the cost of producing marketing content has come down. Everybody has a super-computer in their pocket and can make production-quality videos. Second, the Internet and social media provide for global and instantaneous distribution.
“What you end up with is the third thing, which is the desire to create and consume niche content,” Tite said in a phone interview.
He gave the example of knitting: In the past, there were no knitting shows—maybe just a magazine. Now, if knitting is your interest, you can follow a number of knitters on Twitter, take part in Facebook live chats, and watch instructional videos on YouTube. Niche content is readily available.
“If you don’t catch them [consumers] and you’re not compelling right out of the gate, more of them are willing to move on to something that is more interesting and compelling,” Tite said.
A 2015 Microsoft study found that since 2000, the average attention span dropped 33 percent, from 12 to 8 seconds.
“We have lost quite a considerable percentage of our ability to pay attention because of smartphones, texts coming in, open offices,” said educator and corporate trainer Brian Thwaits in a phone interview.
The nuance with short attention spans, according to Tite, is that consumers apply a very sensitive filter for content as it vies with the stuff that already greatly interests them.
“People used to vote with their wallets and now they vote with their time. And that’s what marketers want to win,” Tite said.
Thwaits, who wrote the book “The Big Learn: Smart Ways to Use Your Brain,” trains people to use their brains more effectively. One goal is to balance the development of both sides of the brain, left and right.
“A lot of the work in business deals with the left side of the brain: reading, writing, words, facts, statistics,” Thwaits said. “The way you get that across is using all those elements that are in the right side of the brain.”
According to research, the right side of the brain is the creative side. It’s where emotion resides. Thwaits gave the amusing analogy of how older people can remember events from decades ago, but may forget what they had for lunch. The reason is people tend to remember things that differentiate themselves and make an emotional impact—a key lesson for marketers.
“Emotional stuff helps them remember the facts and the figures,” Thwaits said.
Thwaits talks about the “plasticity” of brains—that they thrive on change, which is important for the field of neuromarketing to understand.
This nascent field aims to measure people’s reactions—even subconscious ones—to better tailor marketing efforts.
For example, Thwaits said Volkswagen’s 2011 Super Bowl ad of a child dressed up as Darth Vader trying to use the force got the highest neuro-engagement score.
“Neuromarketing is still guesswork in a lot of ways,” he said, pointing out that scientists are at the tip of the iceberg with neuroscience.
Regarding neuromarketing, Tite said great marketing still comes down to getting the right product in front of the right people.
“That means going right down to a neural level to see what kind of reaction we get from the right people with the right message,” he said.
And neuromarketing is not about getting a person to buy something he or she does not want. That would not be good for the marketer since the customer is not going to be happy with the purchase.
Thwaits said his professional objectives are similar to those of a marketer’s.
“My job wasn’t to jam information into people’s head,” he said. “It was to get them to want to know things. That is the same with marketing.
“It’s not showing them stuff. It’s trying to motivate them to want to have that information.” That’s what compelling marketing content aims to do.
Tite and Thwaits will be providing the keynote addresses at Marcom‘s annual nonprofit and public sectors marketing conference on May 30–31 in Ottawa.
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