This is the part one of a forward-looking series on branding and brand marketing
Gary Vaynerchuk recently made the correct observation that brands continue to drop billions of dollars into traditional marketing and advertising for an audience that isn’t watching and isn't engaging. Back in May 2018, the New York Times looked at why traditional television is in trouble. On the one hand, traditional cable and broadcast networks rely on advertising to make money. On the other hand, the audience is increasingly annoyed by ads that break up their programs. The annoyance is understandable when top performing shows like “Big Bang Theory” on CBS run as short at 18 minutes. 12 minutes, or more than ⅓ of the ‘program,’ are commercial breaks that disrupt the flow of the program.
It’s been interesting for me to watch the traditional networks stay rooted in their long standing commercial delivery when today’s audience is clearly showing it wants to watch programming uninterrupted. It would be simple enough to move the commercials to the very beginning, the middle or the end of the programming. One, extended break in the middle of a show would most likely be tolerable to an audience in exchange for free programming. But I digress.
Traditional commercials and branding are built on the premise of Sell! Sell!! SELL!!! Show the audience why our product is so incredibly awesome amazingly wonderfully incredible using as many buzzwords, camera trickery and cute animals as possible. The problem is, one ad doesn’t fit all, even within the same demographic. Another problem is a large portion of the audience doesn’t want to be sold anymore. Finally there’s that annoyance factor I just mentioned.
“Selling” today and for the foreseeable future is about building a story. Actually many stories. Stories that entertain, stories that inform, stories that educate, stories that connect with the audience you are trying to reach. That may be a widely varied audience, but branded storytelling allows you to cater stories and campaigns directly to individual audiences at a fraction of the cost of a single national advertising campaign. One brand, many stories and storylines, one coordinated campaign.
I see Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and other social media as the billboards of the digital age. Good billboards quickly catch your attention when you drive by at 70mph and direct you to something you need or want at that time in your drive. Hotel, food, gas, shopping, whatever it is you’re looking for, even in today’s digital GPS driven world, a billboard can make you stop at the next exit.
Here’s the thing about any social media platform today. These services will come and go, fall in and out of favor. Putting all of your content eggs into one or two social media baskets could be wasted the moment that service has major technical issues or has major negative press.
Put the money into building that off ramp, exit and destination for the audience that is not reliant on any social media service. Build a destination where your audience can connect to your brand’s stories and each that will always be there. Give people a reason to stay a while and keep coming back. So when a social media platform implodes and another service takes its place, your body of content, your stories and your established audience is not affected. You just have to build some new billboards to attract a different audience from that new highway.
What does that brand storytelling and destination look like? More soon.
Want to know what the very first television commercial was? Actually I wanted to know that too, so I looked it up!