December 12, 2010

Brands, businesses and organizations spend valuable time and resources targeting audiences, predicting where they can be reached and determining how they want to be reached. The answer is simple: They are everywhere, and they don't want to be reached. They don't want to know how great you are, and all the wonderful things you can do for them -- so stop calling, emailing, throwing rocks at their windows and singing on their front lawn with a boom box over your head. It's annoying.

Amazingly, audiences don't think of themselves as targets. They don't think of themselves as belonging to this demographic or that group, or as male and female 18-34. They don't even think of themselves as consumers. They just do what they do and react positively to what they like and negatively to what they don't. When they watch television, interact on social networks, watch videos on YouTube, read online magazines and newspapers, they're there to be informed and entertained. That's it.

In the golden days of television advertising, advertisers knew where and when their audiences could be reached. Consumers didn't have to be concerned with how they wanted to be reached, because there was no choice in the matter. If they wanted to watch the TV show, they had to watch the ads. So audiences sat obediently with their frozen dinners, being bombarded with catchy phrases like Act Now! Don't Wait! Limited Time Only! Eventually, viewers learned to make sandwiches during the commercials, but they still had to be back in that chair for the show.

That captive audience has now escaped into the wild, running free through time and space with their DVRs, desktops, laptops, PDAs, cell phones, smartphones, iPads and millions of other devices designed to entertain and inform them on their terms, not yours.

Where the rules used to be, "This program is brought to you by The Car Company," the relationship is shifting to, "This marketing opportunity to sell me a car is brought to you by Peggy Jones from Pasadena." If Miss Jones from Pasadena doesn't like how and when you are approaching her, she and all her friends will go elsewhere.

There's a saying that goes something like, "No one likes to be sold to, but everyone likes to buy." So, if the question is, "How do we reach consumers who don't want to be reached but want to buy?" then the answer is to offer them marketing, advertising and social media content they actually want, when they want it, by going with a "message as content" approach. As with the Trojan Horse, branded online videos are welcomed into their lives and the messages jump out (except in this scenario, the messages don't kill everyone in their city).
More specifically, brands, businesses and organizations have to create and optimize video content that is searchable and will be found when their audiences are interested and looking. Be in your audiences' minds when they are making purchasing decisions by consistently producing entertaining, memorable and unexpected video content that builds awareness. Understand what excites your viewers, and create and promote content that satisfies their needs. Encourage interaction, engagement and sharing by integrating video content with traditional and social media initiatives.

Marketers and advertisers can no longer dictate what consumers think and buy. Instead, we have to work hard at understanding a changing, shifting pattern of behaviors and habits -- and then present video ads, branded entertainment and social media marketing initiatives to our target audiences only when and where we are welcome.

by David Murdico
David Murdico is the executive creative director and managing partner of Supercool Creative, a Los Angeles-based viral marketing agency specializing in online video creative, production, viral and social media marketing for brands including T-Mobile, THQ, Atari and IBM. David has also worked as a commercial director, TV comedy writer and art director.
Courtesy of MediaPost

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