My favourite social media app is Instagram… was Instagram… (I don’t know anymore). I’m a visual person. I like seeing things. Show me something and I will probably remember it. Tell me something and I probably won’t. (Plenty of people say I don’t listen, so…)
It was hideous. I still want to curl up into a ball of shame under my desk when I think about it.
That vile email I sent to someone I hadn't been in touch with for ages.
Out of the blue, they got a message from me. I'll paraphrase.
"Hi, you haven't heard from me in years. I have a new company now. Can we talk about how you can buy my services?"
It makes me want to vomit.
You know when you visit a website and after a couple of seconds you get a message like this...
Your business is fresh out of the wrapper. Not a mark on it. Not a customer or client to its name. Not yet a week or month in business, let alone a year.
All your competitors have been around a long time. They have experience. They have track records, impressive client lists and tried-and-tested products. They are gnarly and calloused. And much bigger than you.
They have a blazing aura of credibility.
What have you got?
How do you compete with these beasts?
The more aspirational your business is, the easier it is to get your message out.
But what if your business is one most people find boring?
Don't be delighted.
We don't care
about your share,
when all you do
is talk about you.
Ugh. Why do so many businesses tell people they are "excited to announce ..."? That they're "delighted to announce..."?
I hope your company doesn't.
If you had a direct channel to your target audience, wouldn't you do your best to nurture it? Wouldn’t you be respectful? After all, treated properly, this place could provide you with customers forever.
Marketers don’t do this.
There are two parts to effective communication. Both can be described by the word 'get'.
First, your audience has to get your message—as in, 'receive it'.
They also need to get it— as in, 'understand it'.
If one of these 'gets' is missing, there's absolutely no chance of your audience acting on your message.
Or to put it another way, there is no guarantee that if your audience gets your message they will actually get it. What is certain, though, is that if your audience doesn't get your message they will never get it either.
As long as we all get that.
I've long thought this about politicians and bureaucrats: they waste huge amounts of other people's time. Their purpose, it seems, is to create rules, red tape, forms, regulations, hindrances, obstacles and barriers. Not because we need them, but because they can or because they are stupid, or both. In doing so, they are producing billowing cloud of lethal poison that is killing hundreds of people every day.
Brooklyn Beckham, the 16-year-old son of famous parents, has been asked by Burberry to take photographs to market its new fragrance. Photographers are up in arms about this. They say it further diminishes the craft of photography, and is disrespectful to professional photographers who have honed their creative skills over many years, decades even. How could a 16-year-old possibly be competent enough? “Sheer nepotism” is how one photographer described it.
Do you know what a golden plover is?
It's a game bird, i.e. a bird that is shot for sport—though it seems a fairly uneven sport, if you ask me. The odds don't exactly favour the bird.
Or do they?
You see, the plover is quick. Very quick—as you would be if someone were trying to shoot you.
Seriously, what is wrong with marketing people? Do they think we're all stupid or something? Maybe we are. I dunno. Maybe we've all become so pacified that we'll accept anything they say, as long as it's said with confidence.
Take this bit of promotional blurb from a company that promotes content marketing (I won't name them; I don't wish to be cruel):
Why is most marketing designed to make a company NOT stand out in any meaningful way?
I mean, do you ever feel that marketing is stuck in some kind of déjà vu loop? A loop in which nothing rises above the rest, and everyone's using the same buzzwords and gimmicks to sell the same thing?
I just want to come back to last week’s topic.
That’s how many messages people are exposed to every day.
Or, at least, that’s a figure you’ll come across quite a bit online and on social media platforms. It kept cropping up when I was researching last week’s post. And, coincidentally, on the same day that post went live, the Content Marketing Institute (CMI) put out an Instagram repeating the number.
But where does it come from?
I had a different topic in mind for this post. Originally, it was going to look at this question:
"How many messages does the average person receive each day?"
I figured the answer would be a solid foundation for a post about the communications torrent our own messages are up against.
I was wrong.
Digging around the internet to learn more about visual alphabets (we all have our quirks), I was drawn deep down a peculiar rabbit hole. Would it be possible to create a language based purely on visuals that could be understood by everyone?
Explaining a complex idea using only words is tricky. Even describing simple things exactly can be hard.
Think of an inverted isosceles triangle that has an apex of 35 degrees. Colour it in with the colour that has the hex value #00a5ff. Here's a hint: that's a greenish blue.
One of the key advantages of using visuals to communicate is that they are quick. People can understand a visual in the blink of an eye.