K Street Newsletter :: Directions

March 2018    |    VOLUME 16, ISSUE 3

Riding the Waves of Communication

The last few years have seen a sea-change in the way people communicate, given the near universal access to wireless broadband and the popularity of mobile computing devices. Many people, especially younger people, now connect to the web exclusively with smartphones and consider the desktop to be a thing of the past. That means it's essential for companies to understand how people are connecting to their content, so they can improve engagement and avoid things that will make people turn away. You have to ride the waves as communications evolves.

Today, the sheer volume of communication is a problem in itself, since users will aggressively filter out anything that doesn't add value for them. Data also suggests that users have shorter attention spans, and you only have a few seconds to grab them. Going for visual content is a good way to address these challenges, since both infographics and video are more compelling than paragraphs of text. This article recommends some common sense tips for staying relevant. Be sure your content is professional and precise. Deliver it small bites, on a regular basis. Use professional photography, ether from a stock library subscription or by budgeting for a professional photographer. Add video to the mix, even if it’s just part of your home page. And be sure that everything you produce is mobile friendly.


Rebooting Your Brand

Most people think of a company's brand as relatively timeless. The "brand" represents the essence of what a company is about -- what it's known for. That's why companies put so much effort into protecting their brands, with offices that issue guidelines for everything that touches on corporate identity, from colors and fonts to logo placement. If the byword is "quality," that's the word they want people to think of whenever they see the company's logo.

But in a world driven by the constant churn of social media, brands need to evolve too. They're not immutable. Brands need to be considered in terms of the latest market trends if you want to preserve their competitive advantage. It might be time for re-branding if you're missing your growth targets or feel that your reputation isn't what it used to be. If you had some kind of market or PR problem, re-branding might be a good way to recover. But it's more than just putting a new skin on your website or changing your tagline. You want to start with internal research to learn how your employees feel about any brand issues. Follow that with external research into the needs (and demographics) of your target customers, and how they align with your products and services. For a deeper dive, you can read this case study about rebranding at the California-based Ten-X company.



Street Smarts 173: Deliver a content strategy.

On the web, content is king. Even for product-oriented sites like Amazon, content helps attract visitors and adds to the site's credibility. The reviews, ratings and recommendations make the experience of shopping at Amazon much richer than walking the aisles of a department store. For service-oriented sites, content is even more important, since credibility is essential for engaging with potential customers. And a good content marketing operation needs a good content strategy. You need to understand your communications in a holistic way, since no single channel will reach all of your possible audience. And you need to allocate your resources in a way that delivers the most value. Tools like Knowledge Street's Communications Decision Tree can help visualize the big picture.

This article suggests that a good way to execute a content strategy is to think about the content in terms of campaigns. Don't go directly from your high-level strategy to the blogs, videos and infographics that will ultimately support it. A content marketing campaign is a collection of communications aimed at a specific audience, using a specific channel with a particular objective in mind. Campaigns are smaller subsets of your overall strategy, so they're easier to manage in terms of budget, staff and the approvals needed. They also make it easier to see how different campaigns relate to each other, and where one might be used to boost the signal of another.


Love that Video

Market research continues to show that people love video. A video is much more likely to be clicked than a plain text link, and a Facebook video gets 135 percent more reach than a Facebook photo. Over 500 million people watch video on Facebook every day, so it's no surprise that 87% of online marketers are supporting their campaigns with video elements. It's changing the way companies communicate with customers, and changing the way individuals communicate with each other. What is it that makes video so compelling?

According to this article, it's all in the psychology. Since some 90% of information that reaches the brain is visual, humans are hard-wired to favor visual communications. We process visuals 60,000 times faster than text, and visual communication is also more likely to trigger an emotional response. If you think about the online content that made you feel happy or angry or sad, there were probably visuals involved. To get the most value from video content, you need to integrate it with other tried-and-true communication practices, like storytelling. A description of your offerings is one thing, a story about how those offerings help is better. And a video version of that story is better still. Video can help companies connect with their customers and build better relationships, as long as they use it the right way.


Creative Connections

Last month, in an article called "The Creative Brain," we mentioned a recent study which found that the brains of more creative people respond to situations differently than do the brains of less creative people. This is an interesting (and less technical) article based on the same underlying research, which makes for a good follow-up. The hook is that researchers have started to identify thought processes and brain regions that are associated with creativity. Using something called an "alternate use" test, they asked people to think of unusual uses for everyday objects. The more unusual suggestions were rated as more creative, and the subject's brain activity was monitored with MRI scans.

With this brain mapping data, the researchers were able to identify a set of neural connections that could be associated with original ideas. They could also predict a person's creative ability based on the strength of the connections within this network. They discovered that creative people are better able to engage different brain systems that don't typically work together. The next area to explore is whether these networks are relatively fixed, or subject to change. That is, can creativity be taught? Will the pursuit of creative activities make people more creative? Interesting stuff.





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