Ann Handley is a Wall Avenue Journal bestselling writer, and has been named by IBM as one of many seven folks shaping fashionable advertising.
She’s additionally the world’s first Chief Content material Officer, and is a LinkedIn influencer with nearly 400Ok followers.
For sure, I used to be thrilled when she agreed to talk with me in regards to the present and future tendencies in advertising on the 2019 Conex in Toronto.
Together with advertising tendencies, we additionally talked about new approaches entrepreneurs can use to unravel previous issues. As a result of, whereas a lot has modified in advertising over the previous couple of years, one factor stays constant — companies nonetheless want to attach with their audiences.
Right here, let’s discover Ann Handley’s tackle pathological empathy, “snackable” content material, and rising above advertising mediocrity.
Have Pathological Empathy For Your Shopper
One of many key ideas Handley has pioneered is “pathological empathy.”
Reasonably than merely segmenting prospects by their behaviors or demographics and making an attempt to attraction to them on these grounds, Handley needs entrepreneurs to get beneath their pores and skin: “Once I say pathological, I imply actually understanding, type of getting inside their pores and skin … to get a way of who’re they and how are you going to greatest interact with them emotionally.”
Finally, partaking with a shopper on an emotional degree is without doubt one of the most sure-fire methods to ensure a profitable advertising marketing campaign. (I dare you to observe Android’s “Associates Furever” video, the most-shared video advert of 2015, with out tearing up.)
This next-level empathy opens the door to a brand new strategy to content material creation. Handley poses the query this manner — “How will we create the type of advertising content material, property, campaigns that can really contact their hearts … and perhaps open their minds?”
As a way to construct pathological empathy, you want time. Nevertheless, in a fast-paced advertising setting the place the whole lot strikes on the pace of sunshine, time is essentially the most valuable and restricted commodity.
Counterintuitively, this solely proves Handley’s level:
“I am on a mission to get entrepreneurs to decelerate. As a substitute of approaching their job with an ‘as-soon-as-possible’ mindset, I feel it is far more useful at sure key strategic moments to decelerate.”
Handley says that by slowing down the advertising course of at these strategic moments, entrepreneurs can higher execute on constructing relationships and changing leads.
“I feel what we’re lacking is that chance to say, ‘All proper, what are the moments the place we actually must assume extra strategically? The place ought to we decelerate to gasoline sooner progress later?'”
Converse to Your Viewers as Peer-to-Peer, Not Model-to-Goal
Along with slowing down the advertising course of at crucial factors, Handley means that entrepreneurs communicate to their audiences from a peer-to-peer perspective, versus brand-to-target.
Whereas entrepreneurs instinctively need to discuss what units their model and merchandise aside, that is not a message that may join with prospects.
Handley informed me, “We love our services and products and we perceive on an implicit foundation what worth they bring about to your prospects or your prospects. However I feel that we do not at all times talk that as successfully as we may. We’re not at all times main with our hearts. We’re not at all times touching folks in a manner that can interact them emotionally.”
Subsequent time you are establishing an online web page or writing touchdown web page copy, you may ask your self — Would I, and my colleagues, prefer it designed this manner? Would we maintain studying? Would we click on the hyperlink?
After all, you may need to A/B check and use focus teams to make sure you’re assembly your viewers’s wants, nevertheless it does not damage to think about your personal opinions and pursuits, or the opinions and pursuits of family and friends, when creating and selling advertising supplies.
Be a Useful resource for Your Viewers
Handley informed me entrepreneurs ought to be a useful resource to their prospects and provide them worth. A part of this shift requires connecting with prospects personally. You may strive social media, however alternatively, contemplate placing a twist on an previous advertising stand-by — the e-mail publication.
As Handley says, “Newsletters are vastly undervalued they usually’re an enormous alternative that we’re not doing properly.”
Handley talked about that, sadly, most entrepreneurs are likely to concentrate on the “information” facet of a publication, and neglect the “letter” a part of the equation.
The “information” facet means entrepreneurs use their newsletters as a distribution technique and concentrate on offering updates about their very own model — however they fail to make use of the “letter” portion to interact with and connect with their viewers.
Handley notes that when writing newsletters, entrepreneurs have a tendency to talk within the plural, however their viewers is one particular person at dwelling or on their telephone. Handley says that by merely writing their newsletters as if they’re speaking to 1 particular person, entrepreneurs can go a good distance towards constructing that non-public connection.
Handley says, “The one who was sitting on the opposite finish of that e-mail … It is one particular person. They are not sitting there with a thousand different folks. So why will we talk to a thousand folks? That is as a result of we’re nonetheless fascinated by it as information and never as a letter.”
Do not Create “Snackable” Content material
Video is one other space the place entrepreneurs are misreading the state of affairs and shedding out on possibilities to meaningfully join with customers. Handley pushes again on the notion of “snackable content material,” and the concept customers are demanding it extra.
“Our impulse as entrepreneurs has been to make it shorter and shorter and shorter to attempt to get folks extra concerned. However from a shopper standpoint, I do not assume that that is what our prospects need.”
Reasonably, Handley thinks that this demand for shorter content material was at all times there however by no means provided.
She informed me, “I do not assume they need shorter and shorter and shorter. They do not need lighter and extra snackable … The way in which that we as customers are consuming content material has been to consider the worth that it offers us.”
Handley cites Netflix as a major counterexample that disproves the concept shopper consideration spans are getting shorter, or that “snackable” content material is king.
“In a world of snackable, why does anyone sit down for hours at a time to observe the final season of Stranger Issues? It is as a result of we need to — we would like it on our phrases, primary. However secondly, now we have all the eye span on the planet if it is one thing that we care about.”
Handley does not assume viewers’ consideration spans are getting shorter or that they’re searching for out shorter content material. As a substitute, viewers are simply extra discerning about what content material they eat.
That implies entrepreneurs should not shrink back from longer video items, so long as these movies are about one thing that may join with their target market.
Rise Above “Advertising Mediocrity”
Companies that fail to attach with prospects fall into what Handley phrases “advertising mediocrity.” Handley says it’s important for companies to rise above it. However how does a enterprise know if their advertising is mediocre?
“If individuals are not fascinated about you, if they don’t seem to be right here for you, if they don’t seem to be considering, ‘I can not wait to see what they arrive out with subsequent,’ then that is an issue.”
Handley says entrepreneurs ought to ask themselves what would occur in the event that they went away.
How would your e-mail checklist react?
Would any of your viewers members write your workforce to ask the place you went?
Handley relates a private story about her bi-weekly publication to drive the purpose dwelling: “I often mail Sunday mornings and I had a busy week … [s]o I did not mail till Sunday afternoon at 4 o’clock. And I received so many emails from folks saying, are you okay? What occurred? And in order that to me was, it wasn’t simply personally gratifying. [T]he huge lesson there’s … for those who did not present up, would folks say, ‘Hey, what occurred?'”
Do Much less and Obsess
In 2020, there are innumerable modifications occurring on the planet of promoting. I requested Handley what her single most vital piece of recommendation to entrepreneurs can be, and she or he informed me, “do much less and obsess.”
Handley means that entrepreneurs “do much less and obsess” and concentrate on the basics, and “create much less with extra intention.”
Handley additionally has some ideas about content material calendars. Handley means that entrepreneurs “do much less that has extra impression” moderately than strictly abiding by a content material calendar.
“I feel content material calendars are wonderful … I am simply saying, do not let it run your technique.”
Within the Future, a Buyer’s Expertise Will Dictate Your Technique
Lastly, I requested Handley if she has any concepts on how we’ll be consuming content material 10 years from now. Whereas she thinks video is right here to remain, she rejects the concept the phrase is lifeless.
“I hate binary decisions like that. It isn’t a matter of phrases or photos. It is each. To your query, what does this imply for us 5 years from now? assume it is a greater integration and, and maybe extra interactivity.”
Handley’s seemingly counterintuitive recommendation relies on advertising fundamentals, a few of which right now’s entrepreneurs is likely to be forgetting as they change into extra enmeshed with new applied sciences.
It is easy to get caught up in present tendencies, however figuring out your target market and creating an expertise they will actually get pleasure from stays the paramount objective of entrepreneurs. By taking a step again from right now’s sizzling new advertising pattern, we will get a greater sense of how you can use new applied sciences and methods to ship a useful expertise to our prospects.