Years ago, consumers had plays, short stories and novels to entertain and enlighten us. We also had ‘how to’ training manuals to inform & enlighten us, and advertising to influence us. Now days, with expanded social media, the lines are far more blurred:
- The medium of You Tube might present short plays/movies/stand up, brand promotion, or training guides.
- Emails, blogs, tweets and company websites may entertain & advise us.
- Infometrics & electronic billboards flash messages at us, as we surf the internet on our smartphone. Or ride the escalator at the train station.
Some writing providers might have the passion to manual-write, copy-write, play-write, article-write or novel-write but now, as the cost to present in a variety of media channels diminishes rapidly, they find the media channels to reach their audience as daunting to choose from as understanding the evolving ‘audience segments’ themselves.
It takes a lot of time to understand audience content needs:
- who amongst the audience wants thought & observation,
- who wants to observe actor/character judgement & see the consequences of their actions,
- who wants to see outputs presented in (animated) pictures & voices, not just words,
- who wants to see wider outcomes, not just close encounters,
- how often do the audiences want updates,
- how short is the audiences’ attention span for the message.
In addition, it takes considerable time to develop a sustainable business model, if you want to pay the bills by meeting those needs.
What to do? The good news is that the needs (audience demand) are enduring, as the World gets more complex. And the dilemmas or trade-offs appear to multiply in front of our eyes:
- smart people still want to learn things the easy way – through the eyes of actors/characters/experts, or the evidence from long-run actual case studies.
- smart people are prepared to pay something to gain insight, manage risk to themselves and/or be entertained. Especially if that makes the learning process more fun.
- many people connect with the message when the message or messenger has a credible personal connection – the human touch.
Perhaps for those writing fiction, the answer is to specialise within a creative collective. They can concentrate on content by:
- picking a strong, emerging social issue,
- researching it well,
- presenting the issue in a fresh, innovative way,
- having the characters experience various events associated with the issue.
They can also partner with other specialists in the collective who can best understand the (long tail?) audience segments. And the mix of (long tail?) channel preferences for those segments.
Can writers of all types learn something from the ‘maker revolution’ currently impacting manufacturing and way new stuff is invented? Applied to writing, it might evolve how the issues are conveyed and how the ideas are presented. For example, via fresh combinations of alternating, or concurrent media.
Perhaps for those doing copywriting (whether SME business owners, or dedicated professionals), they can:
- try to find the optimum balance between generalising & telling personal stories to hook the target audience.
- combine ‘arm’s length’ objective messaging with specific products & services to yield a higher audience response than at present.
- experiment with endorsements & ramping up the entertainment value to accompany the message.
- rely more on the product or service value to sell, not the slickness or brilliance of the copy.
Finally, what about the problem of the proliferation of ‘delivery channels’ generally?
Perhaps the first answer is to limit the types of channels used by the writer, to the ones most used by the target audience segments (experimenting with new combinations is fine to help differentiate, but the audience growth rate will likely be slower). In any case, if the product or service is sufficiently valuable, the audience will probably make allowances for the channel not matching their emerging channel of choice.
If the business is operating a low-cost product or service e.g. electronic Gift Cards, the writer can look to low-cost messaging channels e.g. websites. And if operating in a highly-competitive market, ensure the result is suitably represented on price-comparison, endorsement-rating type websites.