8 must-do’s to create awesome marketing communication in this digital age

With complete fragmentation of media channels, it’s getting increasingly harder to reach millennials in this digital age. Laalit Lobo shares helpful tips to get your brand message to reach and connect with them

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Editor’s Note: Laalit Lobo (Head Of Business Strategy and Operations at Whatshot) shares about the critical ingredients required in getting your brand message to reach and connect with your audience. The article has been cross posted from LinkedIn Pulse. Views expressed in the article are the writer’s personal views and in no way represent the views of his current employer, clients or Lighthouse Insights.

One of the funnier posts to have appeared on my Twitter feed in recent times is a marketing professional in her mid 30’s writing “Sadness is when you need to learn to use Snapchat just to be able to keep your job”. Let’s admit it, it’s never been harder being a marketing communication professional.

The complete fragmentation of media channels, the many distractions for your target audience (I don’t agree that attention spans have reduced, though) and the pressure to follow new fads that seem to be emerging every few months thanks to new technologies has made the role of a marketer challenging to say the least. In the good old days, you hired a fine ad agency, invested in a high quality TVC and print campaign and you were done. Reach. Check. Brand recall. Check. Consideration. Check. Those days, fortunately or unfortunately, are over!

It’s now getting increasingly harder to reach millennials at scale. Time spent on newspapers and TV by this influential TG is falling and the mobile phone has become the primary device for content consumption. And the bad news for marketers is that ads are being blocked, skipped or simply ignored!

The solution to the problem in my view is not shorter ads (now 6 seconds) as YouTube and Facebook are increasingly making us believe but better creative! A return to classic storytelling where ads had memorable characters, jingles and connected at an emotional level.

My experience as a content marketer has taught me a few things which I’d like to share here. What I consider critical ingredients in getting your brand message to reach and connect with your audience.

1) If you tell a good story people will find the time to consume it!

They say the display advertising business is dying a slow death and for the most part those annoying page takeovers, expandos and rollovers with sound probably deserve to die. But then again you have examples of brilliant creativity in banners that have become case studies in audience engagement. My all-time favourite is this Cannes Lion winning ad for Pringles. A simple 300×250 banner comes alive through the unfolding narrative. Brilliant!

Pringles_banner_ad

The same holds true for video ads. My personal view is that 6 seconds is way too short a time to build any kind of narrative. It may be just about enough for a tactical promo, but will do nothing for brand building. The goal for marketers shouldn’t be how many people they were able to force to watch their ad but rather to see how many people enjoyed their ad, shared it or included it in their social media or offline conversations.

Don’t worry about the duration too much if your creative is gripping. I actually believe the Skip button is a powerful tool in the hand of the advertiser to gauge the efficacy of her creative. Marketers can reward their creative agency when the “did not skip ad” to total playbacks ratio is favourable and hold them accountable when it isn’t. The days of passive ad viewing are over. Engagement is more crucial than mere views.

2) Create content specifically for the platforms you are on.

Marketers need to get out of the mindset that everything starts with a big film for TV, which is then altered for digital. You need to be awesome on all the platforms which are important from an audience and marketing funnel perspective. That also means you need to have your best creative talent producing content for all your platforms.

If your brand campaign and TVC has been created by Agnello Dias, don’t leave the social media campaign to be run by an intern at your digital agency. In fact if you can afford it, I would suggest hiring an in-house team of creative directors who can oversee content for each major platform. Content marketing needs rigour and specialised skill and a brand manager or media planner is often not equipped to take calls on what is good content and what is not.

3) Know who your audience is, their behaviours, goals and motivations before you make content for them.

Your content must connect with them at an emotional level. Don’t create content for the Googlebot and don’t create content that’s solely focused on sales and conversions. Focus on the story telling and the human connect. At Indiatimes Lifestyle Network we’ve had the privilege of working with many brand managers who understand our philosophy of creating compelling stories that result in a favourable response from the audience without the need for hard sell. Their support has resulted in us creating engaging branded content even for unsexy categories such as pest repellents!

4) If your brand wants to enjoy top of the mind awareness stick to a positioning, have a tagline and a jingle that people will instantly recall.

Just like in the old days. Brands today change taglines and campaigns as frequently as they change hashtags on Twitter. So Amazon came up with the amazing “Aur Dikhao” campaign but just as we started humming their jingle and using the tagline in conversations they went ahead and introduced “Apni Dukaan” and then #DeliverTheLove. Similarly, Reebok came up with this terrific campaign with Kangana Ranaut but they ended up using two taglines “Fit To Fight” and “Be More Human” leaving the audience very confused.

5) On social media make sure you listen, respond and always stay grounded.

Sometimes even the best of marketers are unable to gauge the mood of their audience and say things that can be construed negatively. A few years ago, All India Bakchod (AIB) put out this post calling for entries to their internship program. They asked for people to send in their creative samples, but their tone seemed arrogant and what irked people most on their own Facebook page was that they proudly claimed that the internship was unpaid. Negative comments started flowing in and the situation quickly got out of hand. I added my bit to the conversation, creating this meme which quickly got 400 likes!

The point I’m making is don’t take your community for granted. Be careful how you construct your messaging.

6) Don’t get carried away by fads or vanity metrics. Or the need to have a celebrity in your ad.

If your idea isn’t big, using a celebrity is a complete waste. Like this Nissan ad with Sushant Singh Rajput and John Abraham. Lazy creative. A film that has no story or editing structure. The only thing it ends up doing for you is give you a headache.

Another fad to avoid is Prankvertising. Unless of course you have a great idea that connects seamlessly with your brand positioning such as this one for the horror flick, Carrie.

Talking about fads, the current hot favourite in India among marketers is to get a video made by a celebrity standup comedian or comedy group. But if your brand gets a cursory mention in a video as silly as this one made by The Viral Fever and sponsored by Lenovo by paying a bomb, you’d be better off keeping that money in the bank!

7) Content marketing requires consistent effort.

Once you start creating great content, your audience expects more such content at regular intervals. So make sure you keep it coming. In fact brands such as Amul, Blendtec and Redbull by consistently producing awesome content have become as much media brands as they are dairy, appliance and energy drink brands.

8) And finally whatever you do, make sure your marketing communication is entertaining.

Because people will always be more receptive to your message and change their behaviour when you make it fun.

Feature image by Sticker Mule on Unsplash