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It’s the message that matters

With so much talk lately about agencies merging offline and online shops, industry execs declaring the death of any non-digital form of advertising, and a recent (shocking!) announcement that teens are ignoring those spiffy digital ads that are taking over the world, I can’t help but wonder what it will take to remind marketers that as cool as the tools become, consumers are still people (for the most part, at least). For those of you with a giant “duh” ringing between your ears, hear me out.

For any message (tv, radio, print, online, digital placement, out-of-home, etc.) to have any sticking power, it actually has to be relevant to the target audience (thank you, Marketing 101). In order to craft a message that is relevant to the intended audience, you actually have to take the time to get to know them…what are they like, what do they enjoy, what are their frustrations, how does your brand fit into their lives. Knowing that information, the next step is to craft an ad that will provide meaningful information, an emotional connection, or simple enjoyment targeted right at the audience. The medium is the delivery of the message; whether or not the audience pays attention comes down to what we actually have to say.

While some may argue that is the whole point of the Digitas/Publicis initiative to create 1,ooos of individualized ads served up based on consumer data and algorithms, I’d like to think I’m more than a giant mathematical formula (maybe I’m wrong). Would you have a conversation with a friend based solely on flat data you have about them and how much they like 80’s pop music? The key to building any relationship is showing real interest in the other person, listening carefully to what they’re willing to tell you, and then responding with information they care about in a way that is meaningful to them.

I know I’m not saying anything the marketing world doesn’t already know. But I think we get so wrapped up in the slick new ways we can deliver our message that we forget about the message itself. When we focus on the “how” in spite of the “what”, consumers simply ignore both.

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