Engage And Entertain (Or It's Always Better to Pull Than Push)
The advent of recording technology (from the cassette tape to the VCR to the current digital formats) as well as the ability to access audio-visual entertainment on demand has allowed us to do the one thing that marketers hate:
Skip their ads.
For the most part, you don’t have to sit through a 15, 30 or 60 second ad just to get to the content you’re actually there for. You just hit the forward button and presto! No marketing message, no advertiser trying to sell you something.
The reaction, if you’re a marketer, is one of two types: you can either lament the loss of this ability to demand attention (if you ever really had that ability) or you can do something about it.
And smart marketers have realized that the answer lies in changing the emphasis of their content - their ad messages and formats and structures - from push to pull.
Don’t push your information on the consumer, pull them in.
Don’t demand their attention, make them want to give it to you.
Don’t pontificate to them, engage and entertain them.
If you engage and entertain - in the right way, one that reinforces your brand message and your values, and of course aligns with the values of your target audience - then not only will you capture your customer’s attention, they’ll be happy to give it to you whenever you need it.
Of course, mega brands like Coke and Pepsi (among others) figured this out and transformed their ads into star-studded entertainment vehicles. They had (and still have) the money and smarts to do so.
In addition, marketing today has the ability to operate across multiple media - be teased by an ad on TV, then jump online to get the full story and interact with that brand across social media. The impact is a fuller, more holistic, and more engaging experience with the consumer.
But today’s marketer doesn’t need to huge budgets. A bit of creativity, a little self awareness and the ability to tell a story can take you very, very far.
I’m especially enthused by the advertising/marketing in the podcasting world. The better podcasts have turned advertising into an engaging art form in and of itself. I first noticed this years ago on the Gimlet Series, StartUp, where the ads became stories that took you behind the scenes of the product or service being advertised. In telling those stories, you understand what the brand was about, its values and many times, connected with it on a personal level. You weren’t being sold a bill of goods, you were being invited into that world.
More recently, I spent a long drive to and from Bloomington, Indiana, listening to several hours of the Conan O’Brien Needs A Friend podcast and not once in all that time, did I skip past a single ad. Why? Because Conan did them himself, made them funny in his own inimitable way, and made them engaging. I wanted to listen to the ads! That’s a marketer’s dream!
But put Conan’s star power aside, and look at the first example I gave on Gimlet. Or check out the creative way Seth Godin’s Akimbo podcast advertises. Or any number of other excellent podcasts. Their advertisers are getting a solid bang for their buck - because they make me want to listen. They engage and they entertain. And when I’m ready, they’ll make me want to buy.
And, really, that’s what marketers ultimately want.