Used to be, you paid lots of money for expensive advertising space, and in return you had the power to interrupt your customers’ day and tell them to buy your service. Media agencies charged a small fortune to secure you the prime TV, radio and print advertising slots and what you got for your money was an almost captive audience.
The internet, social media and mobile devices have changed all that. These days pretty much anyone can access powerful communication tools which allow them to reach vast networks, and a clever, entertaining meme can reach millions of people all over the world in a matter of days.
The good news is, access to these tools and networks is cheap or even free, social and geographical barriers have fallen, and you have almost unlimited power to reach your target audience wherever and whenever they are.
The bad news, though, is that so can everyone else. The competition for people’s attention is cutthroat, and there’s only one thing you can do to make your message stand out: make it better. What you save in advertising costs, you need to invest in thought, time and effort. If you can come up with strong, memorable content that people will want to share then your audience will spread the word for you. But that’s only half the battle – the rest is making sure that the message they spread is the right one.
The key is simplicity. Now, more than ever, you have only moments to grab the attention of your audience and make it worth their while. In those seconds you need to convey one, single, fundamental message about your business. There are two stages:
- Decide what your message is and stick to it. To stand out you need to market your ‘unique value proposition’ – the thing about your business which makes you better than your competitors. The way you position your company will dictate which customers you attract and what they expect of you. To build a strong, recognisable brand you need to be consistent across all your communications. For example:
- We sell unique products that you can’t find elsewhere
- We provide better a personalised service that you won’t find anywhere else
- We understand the products in our category better than any of our competitors
- We work hard to guarantee the best price on our products
- If you mix up your messages you’ll confuse your audience and be far less convincing.
- Distil your message to the simplest possible form. Whether it’s visual, like an image or video, or a printed article or advert, stick to one concept and use as few words as possible. Remember the kids’ game of Chinese Whispers? The same principle is at work here. The longer and more complicated your message, the more likely people are to mix it up or remember it wrong.
- Choose your message.
- Be consistent.
- Make it memorable.
Keep it brief.