Heart + Art: Content's Magic Ingredients
Updated: Jun 29, 2020
2020 has been one helluva ride. WHOOOOOAR has is WHAT!?!
The past six months have flown by quicker than a single deep breath in.
And, at the same time, many days have felt like decades.
If you go by the new grey hairs on my head & the extra wrinkles on my forehead - frown lines that now convivially join in with laughter lines - you’ll see a singular mapped journey through uncertainty at scale.
And, just as we’ve all borne the physical, mental, emotional, & economic brunt of a world that feels like it’s spinning out of control, so too have brands large & small aged over the past six months.
Some brands have aged well, weathering storm after storm with aplomb.
Others have floundered, unknowing how to change with the agility that is afforded to those with compassion & wisdom in equal measure. Mostly though, I’ve watched as businesses struggle with what to say, when to say it, & how to communicate genuinely with heart.
In working with brands ranging from mortgage brokers to community organisations to the events & tourism industry, I clearly see a common thread when it comes to businesses & where more time/resource/thought is needed: content.
So, let’s talk content.
We all know that how a brand shows up in the world matters more than anything - yep, even more than an offering, a product, an idea.
Unless you’re known, trusted, reliable, & are seen as aligning with the individual values of your customers, it is very rare that you’d be trading well if at all anymore.
Which brings me to the strategic heart of a company: a magical place where storytelling, channel communication, creative iterations, conversations, & community building, & customer care all come together as one.
All too often in businesses we separate digital from creative.
We seat customer care completely apart from sales and PR.
We treat agility like the plague because we’re focused on perfection.
When it comes to strong content strategies in a world thrown askew, we must now take time to re-evaluate what marketing & business strategies looked like in a pre-Covid19 world. For the most part, consumers were & still are oversaturated with & exhausted by banal, beige, & lazy corporate content.
Because we have the digital ability to pay to reach millions of eyeballs, we create more & more & more & more communications that are more cookie-cutter than actual cookie-cutters. We’ve been taught to believe that clicks are a godsend & that data is more important than kindness.
I’m here to throw all of that short-termist, myopic crap out the window.
From here on out, if you concentrate on these two strategies in creating your content (no matter the scale of your brand, product suite, or business) I guarantee you that your stories will resonate with your customers.
First Part: HEART
Okay, okay… let’s cut to the chase & cut the crap all at once. I could throw industry slang & marketing parlance at you until the cows come home about targeting, ad spend, martech, & how easy it is to get EYEBALLS, EYEBALLS, EYEBALLS.
But, I won’t do that.
Instead, after nearly two decades in digital, social media, & traditional creative marketing/advertising I can tell you this single home truth: if your content is lacking in heart, if your stories aren’t about your customer, if you’re lazy with emotion - you’re never going to resonate with anyone, let alone your customers.
As much as we like to post-rationalise the importance of ad placement, it’s the HEART of an ad itself that matters most to humans. The best brands in the world focus in on the mattering.
More often than not marketers are falling into the bad habits of signing off spreadsheets for a year, maybe even two, in which ads are booked in & treated with kit gloves. Marketing like this is sterile. It’s uninspiring. And, it should be left to PC times (pre-Covid). If we’ve seen anything since the world went into lockdown, it’s that the brands that connect with people heart to heart are the brands that will last.
My biggest recommendation for any marketer or business leader at any stage of your career right now is this: ADD HEART TO YOUR CONTENT AT EVERY LEVEL. Don’t skimp on the tiny re-targeting ads, don’t go big & beige. When you send content into the world (anywhere, at any time, paid/organic/whatevs), make sure a human heart on the other side will feel something about it sufficiently.
Heart. Beats. Matter.
Second Part: ART
Talk to any creatives in agencies, working in house for brands, or those folks freelancing about the importance of creativity when it comes to brand resonance, content strategies, & iteration and they’ll all say the same thing: art is subjective, it’s daring, it’s bold, & it should show up in every single piece of content than any brand puts out into the world.
When you take data, distill it into actionable insights, & then mash these together with creativity that takes into account cultural context - you get magic.
As in ABRA CADABRA PULL A DAMN RABBIT FROM A HAT WHILE WALKING ON WATER MAGIC.
The truth of the matter is that, until you understand the magic, you cannot even begin to cast a spell. There are no shortcuts in creativity. So your digital agency has a “tool” that allows you to create 18,948 Instagram ads in 5 minutes. Cool. But, the only thing that tool is doing is making you look like a fool.
Consumers are canny.
They’re quick to mute, delete, or unsubscribe from any brand that doesn’t put time & effort into their content.
Fair enough, too.
It doesn’t take a huge budget or a lot of prep-time to have a conversation that matters. You’d be surprised just how powerful a well-placed Dad Joke or Beatles lyric can be when slipped into a convo contextually.
To break through the din of content that will only ever be seen by ad tech & counted by impressions, slow down to speed up. Think beyond the ease of digital advertising & add a bit of flavour each time you show up in front of your customers.
Making a difference makes sense.
And, to do it, it only takes one part HEART and one part ART.
Content doesn’t have to be treated like rocket science, in fact, it shouldn’t be.
Content should be treated like a joy-fulled, product specific journey into the hearts of your customers.
Care about your content, care about your people.
Then, people will care about you.
If you’re keen to evolve your content strategy to ensure you’ve got both heart & art driving your brand forward, get in touch here.
We’d love to work with you. Heart to art. Art to heart.