Strategien für ein unaufmerksames Publikum

Strategies for a distracted audience

To be incredibly loud is one strategy to draw attention in the age of information overload. But obnoxious attention-grabbing is a put-off to many. If you prefer a quieter approach, you need to know exactly who your clients are and what they want. Learn about your clients’ needs, communicate directly and clearly, and be a good friend.

Reading time: 3 minutes

Photo: Courtney Clayton, Unsplash

One of the books on my reading list for my marketing writer / UX writer certificate was Funktionelle Werbung by R.H. Gärtner. The author compares today’s information overload to a cocktail party where people besiege newcomers on the doorstep, shouting hellos in their face before our guests can even take off their coat. This behavior is obtrusive and unpleasant.

Advertising loudly or quietly?

Gärtner proposes a new way of advertising. In his words, advertising should be invisible, quiet, unobtrusive and friendly. Companies and their products should solve problems and offer added value – nothing more and nothing less.

I have to admit that I like this approach. I’m sure you like it too, because we all are this guest at one time and the party crowd at another. However, I – being an introvert – have spent enough time at parties to know that you don’t meet new friends if you sit quietly in a corner.

How to not drown in the information flood

Gärtner’s book was published in 2014, and the information flood has increased significantly since then. In 2019, people in Switzerland spent 5 hours and 27 minutes online per day on average; 1 hour and 18 minutes on social media alone. (Globalwebindex)

At first glance, this seems to be a lot, but if you consider the amount of content available online, the average user does not even scratch the surface. For example, in 2018, 500 hours of video material was uploaded to Youtube per minute. (Omnicore)

The great flood

Billions of content items are uploaded and shared on social media on any given day.

The great information flood on social media

Source: Freepik, Omnicore

The sheer volume of content proves that you have to make yourself heard over the din if you don’t want to be drowned out. However, it is a mortal sin to annoy your clients.

What to do?

Large corporations and well-known brands have it easy. They have enough money to create so much marketing pressure that their products stick in people’s minds. All others have to work hard to reach their target groups.

Get to know your clients

Your clients’ interests and needs need to be front and center of everything you do. How do they like to be approached, what are they interested in, which problems need to be solved?

It pays off to create client segments so that you can tailor your approach to their specific needs. A little attention-grabbing is ok at the outset. At least you are targeting the right group who actually needs your services even if they don’t know it yet. And while you are at it, do not forget that there is a loud party going on around you and that your potential clients are not paying attention.

Do not waste time

Our attention span is decreasing constantly. This is not the fault of the internet alone, but online a fraction of a second decides whether one reads on. There is little time to say anything and thus whatever you communicate needs to be relevant and easy to understand. Do not forget that pictures are understood much faster than written words.

Become friends

Our world offers an abundance of options, products and services. The difference lies in personal relationships. Social media in particular are made for interaction. It is hard work to build relationships with your clients but it is worth it. Once you have established a relationship with a client, they will return of their own accord.

Gärtner closes his proposal describing the last real and desired friend in our times as being someone who “solves problems,” someone who remains in the background but will be there when you need them.

Keine Angst vor Sparübungen

No fear of cost cutting

When the going gets tough, cost cuts are always on the table. There are a few easy ways to reduce cost in content production. However, there is no way around having a sound strategy, if you need to reduce your budget.

Reading time: 5 minutes

It doesn’t matter whether the global economy will slide into a recession “only” or into a depression of a lifetime. Budget cuts will be on the table in every business in the coming months.

High quality content is vital for all corporate activities nowadays. Thus, the cost for creating this content is quite high. I like telling the old advertising joke that 50% of advertising money is wasted, the problem is finding out which 50%. The same could be said about content.

Where do you wield the axe so that there is only minimal pain? The general rule to go by is “less is more.” Read the following short list of cost cutting measures ranked by difficulty.

How often is too often?

Many content projects are periodical as this is convenient for planning and production. Often their frequency has been set arbitrarily. Do your clients really need weekly updates from your company? Probably not. Extending your publishing cycle could also improve the overall quality of your content as an added bonus.

It is a well-known fact that out of 100 ideas, only one is great, two or three are good, a few more are ok, and the rest is trash. Proof of this is the fate of German comedy show TV total. The show, which made host Stefan Raab famous, initially aired weekly and became cult almost instantly. Then the schedule was changed to four times a week and the show went downhill from there.

How long is too long?

Client magazines, newsletters, blogs, social media posts mushroom during good times. The “less is more” principle applies to volume and length as well – in particular for newsletters and magazines.

There is no ideal page count for client magazines. If you compare the Best of Corporate Publishing shortlist for 2019, you see a broad range. The magazine RED (SIX Group) has seven articles on 36 pages; Breaking the rules (Roland Berger) 17 articles on 82 pages. Obviously, numbers alone don’t determine quality. (Best of Corporate Publishing, German)

Opinions differ as to how long an online article should be. The ideal length of a blog article seems to be between 1’000 and 2’000 words if it needs to achieve a favorable search engine ranking. However, this range varies wildly depending on the sector. (Torque Magazine)

Word counts are not everything, the quality of a text is even more important. Long texts are ok, but they need to deliver. They need to offer relevant and useful information – and they need to be entertaining. If quality is low, readers might prefer a short information that is easy to grasp.

Creating short information is easier said than done. It may sound counter-intuitive but it is more difficult to communicate something in a short text than in a long one. So creating shorter content does not necessarily lower cost. Those savings are only realized in later production steps such as editing, translation, layout etc.

Photo: Ron Dyar, Unsplash

Expensive language versions

The beginning of a new publication project is often marked by high hopes and euphoria. You think global and include potential clients in different language regions from the outset.

This is not wrong. It is a fact that people want to consume content in their own language, even if they speak a foreign language well. It is also a fact that language versions are used when offered. If you cut a language version, you will lose this part of your audience. There is no easy solution here. You need to decide whether the cost savings justify the loss of a part of your audience.

It is not a good solution to switch to machine translations. It is true that high-quality translations are expensive, but machine translations are still not good enough for anything that you send to your clients. Never skimp on quality.

If you don’t want to disappoint a small group of your clients, maybe offer them a reduced option instead. For example, translate only the three main articles out of ten.

As an additional bonus, you may realize that those three articles are actually all you need for all language versions.

Is print still worth it?

Printed client magazines are still popular in content marketing – for good reasons. The advantages are tangible – literally. However, a professional layout, printing and distribution are expensive.

It could still be a mistake to publish online only despite the high cost of printing. Neurologist Hans-Georg Häusel explains in an article how the brain switches to a “strolling” mode when you read on paper, whereas it switches to a “targeting” mode when you read online (article in German).

Admittedly, the article is from 2016 and the publisher is not neutral. Still, attitudes toward a printed medium are more relaxed and positive in general. Don’t underestimate this effect, in particular if your target group grew up before the internet became popular.

Cutting printed media without angering your target group is tricky. One solution is to plan your content from a web-first perspective and only produce the content fit for “strolling” in print. In other words print “less and more exclusive.”

Icons: good-ware

The price of chaos

I’m always surprised how chaotic some publishing projects are. There are revisions upon revisions of “final” content that has already gone to layout and translation. Various stakeholders want to review content at a late stage and cannot leave it untouched as a rule. Planning is so sketchy that the focus shifts constantly.

It is equally surprising that the teams in charge are not aware how chaotic processes drive costs. External providers charge by the hour. They know why.

A simple and robust process where each production step is taken only once will save you a lot of money.

It is worthwhile to spend the most time with planning. This phase includes a precise definition of content, target group, objectives and message, responsibilities and technical specifications such as length and deadlines. And all stakeholders need to follow the plan diligently.

A perfect process has five steps: Creation, revision, layout, proofing, and publishing.

Of course, it is never as simple. Texts need to be signed-off by various instances. They’re too long, too short or not good enough. The general focus has changed over time. Still, a robust process limits chaos – and cost – to some degree.

Save cost strategically

All cost-cutting measures described above are easy to implement. The negative impact on your audience should be limited. However, there is a risk that the cost-cutting leads to a “less is less” rather than a “less is more.”

You have to spend money first, if you want to save money effectively. Cancelling your most expensive publication may seem the right thing to do from a budget perspective, but this publication might be the one that supports your business objectives best. On the other hand, you may not be allowed to touch your boss’ pet project for no good reason.

Before you wield the axe, ask yourself the following questions: What do you want your content to achieve? What client needs have to be met? How does your content fulfill these two objectives? Can you achieve those objectives in an easier and cheaper way?

As simple as those questions seem, finding the answers requires time and money. To find out your clients’ needs is particularly hard. And it is advisable to involve client insight professionals for this task.

All this will give you a clear idea where to save costs.

Modified BCG matrix

Analyzing whether your content meets business objectives and client needs shows where you should cut cost.

Using BCG matrix to rank content

Quelle: Freepik, All Things Content

Strategien für ein unaufmerksames Publikum

Strategien für ein unaufmerksames Publikum

Möglichst laut sein ist eine Strategie, um im allgegenwärtigen Informationsüberfluss auf sich aufmerksam zu machen. Doch aufdringliche Werbung kann nerven. Wer mit leisen Tönen Erfolg haben will, muss genau wissen, an wen er sich wendet. Lernen Sie Ihre Kundschaft und deren Bedürfnisse kennen, sprechen Sie sie verständlich und direkt an und verhalten Sie sich wie ein guter Freund.

Lesezeit: 3 Minuten

Auf der Leseliste meiner Ausbildung zum Marketing Writer stand unter anderem Funktionelle Werbung von R.H. Gärtner. Darin vergleicht der Autor die Informationsüberflutung in der heutigen digitalen Welt mit einer Cocktailparty, wo das bereits anwesende Partyvolk den Gast noch auf der Türschwelle mit lautem Hallo begrüsst und umarmt, bevor er auch nur den Mantel ablegen kann. Das ist aufdringlich und unangenehm.

Laut oder leise werben?

Gärtner plädiert für eine neue Ära. Werben müsse unsichtbar, leise, unaufdringlich und freundschaftlich geschehen. Unternehmen und ihre Produkte sollen Probleme lösen und einen Mehrwert bieten, nicht mehr und nicht weniger.

Ich muss zugeben, der Gedanke ist mir sympathisch. Ihnen sicher auch. Sind wir doch alle einmal der Gast und ein anderes Mal das aufdringliche Partyvolk. Allerdings habe ich – als eher introvertierter Mensch – genug Zeit unsichtbar auf Partys verbracht, um zu wissen, dass man leise und unaufdringlich niemanden kennenlernt.

In der Informationsflut nicht untergehen

Gärtners Buch ist 2014 erschienen, seither ist die Informationsflut noch markant gestiegen. Schweizerinnen und Schweizer verbrachten 2019 durchschnittlich 5 Stunden und 27 Minuten pro Tag im Internet, 1 Stunde und 18 Minuten davon mit sozialen Medien. (Globalwebindex)

Das scheint zuerst einmal viel zu sein, doch angesichts der Menge an online verfügbaren Inhalten sehen durchschnittliche Nutzerinnen und Nutzer nicht einmal die Spitze des Eisberges. So wurden 2018 auf Youtube 500 Stunden Videomaterial pro Minute hochgeladen. (Omnicore)

Die grosse Flut

Auf sozialen Medien werden täglich Milliarden Inhalte hochgeladen, geteilt und kommentiert

Alleine die vier grossen sozialen Medien Twitter, Youtube, Facebook und Instagram veröffentlichen täglich Milliarden von einzelnen Postings

Quelle: Freepik, Omnicore

Die schiere Menge an Inhalten macht klar, dass sich bemerkbar machen muss, wer nicht untergehen will. Und dennoch, die Kundschaft zu nerven ist eine Todsünde.

Was also tun?

Grosse Unternehmen und bekannte Marken haben es einfach. Mit einem grossen Budget erzeugen sie genug Druck, dass die Botschaft und das Produkt in vielen – auch widerwilligen – Köpfen hängen bleibt. Allen anderen bleibt nicht viel mehr übrig, als sich intensiv mit ihrer Zielgruppe auseinanderzusetzen.

Lernen Sie Ihre Kundschaft kennen

Die Interessen und Bedürfnisse der Kundinnen und Kunden müssen im Zentrum stehen. Wie wollen sie angesprochen werden, was interessiert sie, welche Probleme muss ein Produkt lösen?

Es lohnt sich, mehrere Kundensegmente zu bilden und diese möglichst spezifisch anzusprechen. Hier kommen Sie nicht darum herum, aufdringlich zu sein. Doch wenigstens trifft es die Richtigen, die Ihr Produkt brauchen können. Dennoch dürfen Sie nicht vergessen, dass rundherum eine rauschende Party läuft und der Gast sich leicht ablenken lässt.

Keine Zeit vergeuden

Die Aufmerksamkeitsspanne nimmt stetig ab. Das ist zwar nicht erst seit Aufkommen des Internets so, aber online entscheiden Sekundenbruchteile darüber, ob das Auge hängen bleibt. Es bleibt wenig Zeit, etwas zu sagen, deshalb muss es relevant und leicht verständlich sein. Und dabei nicht vergessen – Bilder werden schneller verstanden als Texte.

Freundschaft schliessen

Wir bewegen uns in einer Welt mit unendlich vielen Optionen und Angeboten. Den Unterschied machen persönliche Beziehungen aus. Gerade in sozialen Medien bieten sich viele Möglichkeiten zum Austausch an. Es ist aufwendig, sich um die Gunst des Publikums zu bemühen, doch es lohnt sich. Haben Sie eine Beziehung aufgebaut, kehrt der Gast auch freiwillig zurück.

Schliesslich ist in Gärtners Worten der «Problemlöser, der im Hintergrund bleibt, aber da ist, wenn man ihn braucht, einer der letzten wirklich begehrten Freunde unserer Zeit.»