As marketers, we’re all in charge of communicating something. Whether we’re writing emails for prospects, drafting a presentation for the C-suite or speaking at a conference, success depends on capturing our audience’s attention and driving them to action.
But this can be challenging. A 24/7 news cycle means breaking through the noise to be the first to report. Time-starved readers scan for the most important info first before dumping it. True utilitarian value must come out of everything we share as a company.
Continuing coverage this week of our time at the #PRSAICON Conference, we drew ten communication tactics from former news anchor and author of “Shut Up and Say Something,” Karen Friedman. Here’s how to make sure that every time your brand speaks, you’re not only heard, but listened to.
1) Quality, not quantity.
Fact: since the year 1960, we take in three times more information per day than ever before. Information overload is an epidemic.
Instead of focusing on quantity of words on slides, blogs and press releases, focus on the quality. Google’s Hummingbird update is huge proof that consumers shape decisions, not technology.
2) Hook them early.
Fact: in the year 2000, the average attention span was twelve seconds. In 2012, the average attention span dwindled to eight seconds. Note this for scale: a goldfish’s attention span is nine seconds. Yikes!
Hooking the audience’s attention early is essential to expanding how much attention they spend on your company.
3) Hooking audience attention is all in the opener.
When writing headlines for blog posts, whitepapers, press releases, slide decks, or any other types of shared content, be sure it has one of these elements to capture audience attention:
- A story
- An example
- A powerful number
- A strong statement that makes people think, “tell me more.”
- Ask a question
- A visual metaphor
- Get straight to the point and jump right into the issue
4) Understand what the real story is.
Stories are not what you care about. Instead, it’s about what others care about. Be sure that your story doesn’t just focus on your brand, but how it helps the lives of others.
5) “Effective communication is 20% what you know, and 80% how you feel about what you know.”
There’s a very powerful emotional connection that comes when you connect with audiences on their level.
6) Think conversation, not presentation or demo.
Create experiences and drive messages through stories and examples. Is there an emotional impact? If not, your prospects won’t be convinced that your company should be a part of their lives.
7) Audiences aren’t created equal.
Are you treating all of your audiences alike? Don’t. Segment your messages based on demographics, job titles and interests – one message does not fit all. A/B test messages for resonance, reach and opens to fine-tune your strategy.
8) Until you convey what’s “in it” for them, you do not have their attention locked down.
When we as consumers buy something, we do so because it makes some part of our life better. Whether it is a piece of clothing that keeps us warm in the winter, a tool that makes trimming our trees easier or a service that makes managing our marketing tasks simpler, all of these things provide a general benefit to our lives.
So what’s your unique value proposition, and how do you uniquely help your prospects when they’re not buying, and your clients when they do buy?
9) Build momentum and give people a reason to listen right off the top.
A little excitement never hurt anybody – in fact, it’s necessary to get hearts beating and minds wondering about the next part.
How do you build momentum? In both writing and speech, consider tonality, punctuation and techniques like alliteration.
10) Presence is important.
“Back then, performance and knowledge were two times as important as presence. Now, presence is two times as important.”
Do you agree or disagree with this quote from Richard Hardison?
Think about great speakers of our time, great commercials, or a great presentation or performance. Whether they were as knowledgeable as you expected, if they spoke with conviction, with passion, and with believability, you were on board with them right? It’s all about the way you make your audience feel.
What challenges have you experienced in communicating your marketing messages to prospects or clients?