PR Insights

The Communication Strategy Everyone Will Thank You For.

We’re inundated with messages every day. As communicators, it’s up to us to have  some empathy for our audience, whether that audience is the press, an employee, a customer, or an investor.

Yet, this single communications strategy I’m about to share with you is so simple, so basic, you’ll wonder why you’re not doing it already.

Before we go any further, let me ask you, which would you rather be:

A product or a movement
A cause or a movement?
An idea or a movement?

If you don’t care, I’ll save you-you can stop reading right now.
If you want to be a movement, it’s time to re-frame your thinking.
If you’re going to have a movement that matters, you’re going to need people to get on your side.
PEOPLE.
Not Twitter accounts, not Instagram followers, not Facebook likes.
These are vanity metrics that provide little insight into the passion and interest people have in your brand, product, or personality.

Are You Really Ready?

If you’re ready, you’ll re-frame your thinking.
If you re-frame your thinking, it will change everything.

So get ready…
The world is crowded now with communicators, marketers, messengers, and “me, me, me.”
Some days it’s soul-sucking.
It’s why everyone who uses social networking says brands ruin everything.
And yet…people WANT to receive messages, they just want messages tailored to them.
One of the reasons digital marketing is so powerful is that it creates a give and take in the relationship.
It provides an opportunity for the customer, the reader to think about their favorite subject for a moment: them.
But here’s the rub:
It takes strategy, focus and creativity to create content that your consumer wants to see.

So, please.
As you review your communication goals and communication strategy, stop for one moment and think about the reader, whether they’re a customer, a client, an investor, or an internal employee.
Make it about them.
That single phrase is the one thing so many brand communicators ignore.
Why? Because it takes serious work to “Make it about them.”
It means getting serious about audience identification.
It means getting serious about your brand, it’s voice and how it relates to the audience.
It means diving in on messaging and strategic choices in advertising.
It means actually creating a relationship and even (GASP) an in-person relationship with your customer or client.
It means, communication and branding for the long haul,  not some flash-in-the-pan-make-it-go-viral-I-need-some-vanity-numbers-now kind of campaign.

And while we’re thinking about it, let’s consider language and what it says about our strategy.
If you’re saying you’ll “use influencers,” do you think you’re thinking about it from the “All About Them” standpoint?
If you’re talking about how you’ll “promote”  your message, event, or idea, does that sound like you’re getting ready to make it interesting to others?
If you’re talking to a PR agency, a strategist or a social media consultant who is using words like “promote” and “use” you really must ask yourself if you’ll have an opportunity for a customer relationship.

I still see and hear this language every day on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, everywhere.
It’s gotten to where my eyes glaze over.
Guess what?  So does everyone else’s.

Let’s step it up, together.
We can do this.
We can make what you have to say interesting and relevant to the right people at the right time.

Now What?

Here’s my communication strategy challenge to you.
Go check your last 10 social posts.
See how many times you used the words “we, us, or I.”

How much of your content was about the consumer?
How much of your content was strategically shared to reinforce or create relationships?
Is there anything there that would make someone curious?
Is there anything at ALL that makes people feel ANYTHING?

How do YOU make people feel?
If you make them feel ANYTHING you’re miles ahead.
If you make them feel stronger, smarter, special, you’re really hitting on something.
If you made them terrified, scared, outraged, you’re really hitting on something.

People rarely forget how you made them feel.
But YOU’RE utterly forgettable when you make them feel nothing.
Digital branding and marketing is a long game, with peaks at appropriate times.
But always it surrounds emotion.

Regardless of the movement you’re trying to start, start with the idea that “you” are not necessarily interesting.
What’s interesting to people is what they do with “you.”
How you make them laugh or think.
How you make their lives easier, better, or richer.

Here’s another reason to re-frame your thinking: it takes discipline and thought to create content that makes people pause.
That’s why so few marketers do it.
So while everyone else is “zigging” go ahead and “zag.” and watch how it changes the way people respond to your brand or product.

That is all.

 

Because there is nothing more fearless than creating something and pushing it out to the world; everything you produce says something about you, this is an article about creating an authentic personal brand for creatives that resonates.
This is an article about showing the you in a deeper way, a way that allows you to be you.

This is not an article about how to be number one of Twitter.
This is not an article about how to get a job using social media.
This is not an article about how to trump up your yet-to-be accomplished triumphs.

If you are a creative: a musician, an artist, an author, this is a digital personal branding article just for you.

You’re in a unique position as a creative.
You speak to the world through your art.
It’s a fearless way to live, and yet, art serves as a protective layer, doesn’t it?
You let your art speak for you so you don’t have to do the speaking.

Yet, you’re probably all too aware of the value of digital personal branding.
It means the difference between a hobby and a career.
And, importantly, it’s accessible to you in a way other forms of branding are not.

I’ve worked with creatives on a regular basis for many years on personal branding in digital formats.
I wanted to share with you some of the best advice I give creatives starting their digital branding journey.
This is a road map, one you can return to time and again.

 

Take Us On Your Journey

The creative process is fascinating and like a thumb print, unique to the creator.
Use your digital presence to let the world into your process.
Let us see you as you go through the creation journey.
Let us see the process, both artistic and emotional.
As importantly, let us into your personal journey, bit by bit.
Let us see how you became who you are, work it into your story about a piece.
Was there a pivotal moment when you just KNEW this is what you were supposed to be doing?
Tell us that story.
How did you decide to use a particular medium or process?
Tell us that story.
What are were you feeling when you created a particular piece?
Tell us that story.

Be Relatable

To many people creatives are special.
Indeed, you are.
But being “special” means most people don’t think they can relate to you.
And one of the most powerful ways to enhance the value of your work is to be a human.
Yes, we want to see your triumphs, but we also want to see your struggles. And I don’t just mean your “humble brags.”
Find something that people can relate to.
Maybe it’s a world view.
Maybe it’s a mission you’re on.
Maybe it’s a passion you have.
The more relateable you are, the more easy it is to attribute meaning to your work.
Where there’s meaning, there’s value.

Be You x10

Subtlety and nuance is valued in creating lasting pieces of work.
We love to have layers of work, something we can discover throughout time about work.
But in the digital world, subtlety doesn’t translate very well.
You want to pick three things that you’ll reinforce all the time when you share yourself.
Make these things elements of  you which are most comfortable with, elements that make you, you.
And emphasize them.
Your “you” can be humble and unassuming, just emphasize that; celebrate it.
Your “you” can be slightly nutty and narcotic, just emphasize that; celebrate it.
For every authentic, real, part of you, there are people who can relate to that part of you.
But you’ll have to emphasize that part of you, over and over again.
You’ll need to actively underscore it in your digital expressions.

It takes discipline and thought to really create your digital personal brand. It takes practice too. Allow yourself the time to unfold, like a butterfly into your most comfortable you.
Good luck on your journey!
Please, drop me a note here or on Twitter so I can follow along!

How many messages do you think you see a day? Now, imagine how many messages a day your customer sees?

All these messages contribute to message fatigue. We used to say a person needed exposure to a message 7 times before they even remembered seeing it. Today, I’d personally put that number close to 12-15. Ironically, more messages contribute to increased fatigue. So what’s a marketer to do?

It’s important to prioritize your marketing and advertising so you CAN get multiple exposures. Let’s look at what a potential campaign meets the exposure threshold without fatigue.

Retargeting: retargeting prioritizes your advertisements to people who have opened emails or visited your website. You can run retargeting on Facebook advertisement as well as many online ad networks. You can change your ads up a bit by having a series of connected and similar images or looks. Retargeting should be a campaign that runs more or less consistently. Your goal here should be to reach any given customer 2X a week at least.

Email Marketing: Email marketing is the unsung hero of digital marketing. It’s a work horse. Despite this, it seems people either completely ignore email marketing or they abuse it. I encourage my clients to aim for the middle ground and email 1X per week. The key to email is to reinforce the message very clearly and quickly. You may have customers in a drip email series based on certain actions and in that case the space between each email may be a bit shorter. Your email should be brand consistent and provide a clear call to action.

Social Media (organic): Social media is a soft-sell environment, unlike other forms of digital marketing, social requires a softer touch. This doesn’t make it less effective, it makes it different.  Today’s expected organic reach is throttled to encourage advertising on most (though not all) platforms. To maximize social reach, spend the time (and money) to create some corner stone content, something that customers respond to this could be videos, a game, anything with that “you have to see this,” urge. Supplement corner stone content with regular organic content (3-5x per week) that is easier to create but meets the strategy, keeping in mind that organic content isn’t the place to invest in huge production. However, you should distribute this content on multiple platforms, but you should do so at different times, and you may adjust each piece slightly for the different audiences on each platform.

Social Media (Advertising): Choose 1-2 organic posts per week to “boost” to fans/friends of fans to increase the potential for it to show in their feed. With this, you’re taking a branding approach, you’re just increasing exposure. Your cornerstone content should serve as an “ongoing advertisement” in social. Your goal is to supercharge this content beyond your fans and give people a chance to see it at least twice before you complete the ad cycle on that. You may pause it to prevent fatigue, but don’t hesitate to return to it.

If you run this thoroughly, you have a good chance of getting your message seen 3X per week, which means within a month you should be penetrating the mind space of your target customer.