James Moffat is the Managing Director of Organic Development, a digital marketing company founded in 2006.
As a so called communications professional, I always thought I understood how to get people’s attention through content. That was until this weekend. On Sunday, ten of my family descended upon our home – largely to spend some time with the newest member of our family – my five-month-old daughter Evie. What was meant to be a relaxing day with the family slowly evolved into a lesson in great communication. I watched as my daughter quickly and effortlessly wrapped six adults around her finger in under four hours, without needing to say a single word.
A thousand words
The highlight of this lesson was watching my ninety year old grandmother skip nimbly across the room with the deft aplomb of a ballet dancer, just because her great granddaughter had shown a glimmer of interest in the piano, it was a sight to behold. A well timed look, an appropriate scream and a gurgling smile was pretty much all it took to have the entire household dance around desperate to satisfy her every demand. That was when I learnt what it is that grabs people’s attention and gets them to act.
It’s not what you say that has the effect, but how you make people feel. The thought that my grandmother could brighten up her great granddaughters’ life for just one moment was enough to knock seventy years off her. This is one of the greatest challenges faced by digital marketing and communications professionals: How do you make a blog post, an image or a video not only engaging, but also incite an action amongst your viewers?
How do you ensure that you aren’t just filling virtual space with noise? I think the answer is to make people feel it.
Forgetting the Plan
You might think that feeling it and making others feel it comes easily to charities such as Plan UK, who continually raise awareness, drive for donations and deliver millions of pounds each year to improve the lives of children.
However, the reality of working in front of a computer day after day, in the same office and the unglamorous grind involved in getting those donations to the right people on the ground can make it difficult for you to feel it yourself, let alone make others feel it.
I work on search marketing and social media campaigns for Plan UK and it gives you a real sense of value in your work when you work with a dedicated organisation like this. The reality of delivering the work means 99% of my time is spent focused on the numbers – and I suppose rightly so.
However, you can quickly lose sight of the importance and value in what you are working on. If you’re not feeling emotionally connected to the brand and this comes through in your communication, then other people won’t be feeling a connection either - and they won’t react.
The digital world gives the opportunity for every individual to publish, share, comment on and create as much content and on any subject that they wish. If you want to stand out and make an impact then you need to have something to say that people want to listen to – and you need to package it in a format that makes it easy for them to feel what you feel. There are very few people who go to work every day and can say, ‘I helped improve the lives of 119 million people in 50 countries through my efforts.’ At Plan, everyone has the opportunity to do that, every day.
Don’t keep that feeling to yourself. Share what you feel through your communications. Not everyone will agree with you, but that doesn’t matter, at least they won’t ignore you.
How else do you make your communications impactful? Tell us below.