|Text from Igor Arih|
|Preface from the book “Iz mojih čevljev”|
Don’t say someday that you weren’t told soon enough (1).
|Advertising doesn’t work anymore. It is outdated. The principle that peaked during the 80s, the time of one-direction media, has simply become out-of-date. Today, this principle is too expensive and lacks efficiency. Therefore, we are now witnessing the constant pursuit of new models, since the communication bridging the product and consumers simply cannot die out. Whenever you are presented with a product in one hand and a potential audience in another, you will have to build a communication bridge between them. In any form whatsoever. |
In recent years, the idea of content marketing has become very popular. The idea appeals to me because of its name. I believe finally the time has come, when form will prevail over the content. This is not only the case in advertising. A triumph of good background stories without the unnecessary splendour of the form can be noticed in almost all the fields of design, fashion, film or other art forms. They are undoubtedly scarce, but when they win, their triumphal cry can be heard loud and clear for a long time. In advertising, the time of deception, fireworks and gorgeous models without an in-depth reflection on the story’s content has now come to an end. Finally, extravagant advertising was given a merciful shot in the forehead by the financial crisis. Expensive commercials are now a thing of the past. The same goes for the “heavy artillery” in large advertising agencies. Today, my fellow colleagues mostly whine over the good old days. But this does not discourage them from sending their contributions to advertising festivals, as if the false glamour from the past will bring clarity to their clients and cause a revival of the good old times. We have a saying: “When life gives you lemons, make yourself a lemonade.” The form is “passé” and the content is “in”.
Any type of commercially-oriented communication should closely bear in mind the modern principles of content marketing. These principles began to develop on account of web browsers. In my opinion, the rules behind the application of words in digital content design as explained by the pioneers of the content marketing, serve only as the basis for new comprehensive communication projects. The message that speaks to both is: forget the form and focus on the content.
But what does this changeover to content mean to me? Today, most people professionally engaged in advertising, marketing, communication and public relations, are wondering what in heaven’s name is this content marketing? However, they are already making a fundamental mistake from the past by raising this question. The answers are sought for in communication channels. If in the past, campaigns were created based on the decision about which channel to use, nowadays, the question of choosing the proper channel is the last thing worth considering. At the very end. There are numerous channels! I am fascinated by the fact that people that are in any way engaged in the business of communications are always eagerly trying to understand the operating mechanism behind any new principle without asking themselves, with a few exceptions, what really is the point. A full understanding of the principles behind the functioning of the small gearwheels inside a precision Swiss watch may be of no use to us if we don’t have any knowledge about the purpose of time.
And make no mistake, Even many distinguished providers of content marketing limit themselves to the use of the internet, corporate newsletters or direct marketing. Again, the focus is on the channels only. Therefore, we will try to briefly explain our broad perspective of the darkness in the marketing process and why the term “marketing revolution” is used by many. Because this is what this actually is. And not only in marketing.
The prevalence of form without in-depth understanding of content is a phenomenon, which can sadly be observed almost everywhere. To give just a few examples of unconditional subordination to formal solutions whose content without any doubt consists of complete paradoxes. E.g. “a reality show”. So tell me what in heaven’s name does this completely artificial TV format have to do with the truth? Or “plastic surgery”? Sadly, plastic surgery in most cases creates freaks. Don’t let me get started on “democracy”. This is nothing else than the constant prevalence of the will of the majority over that of a minority. These are all paradoxes, which we adopt without hesitation, since they are hidden inside generally adopted formal solutions. In one day, we have to solve so many other personal problems that we do not have the time to investigate the word constructs offered by the media. If we were until now slaves to the form, we will now be enslaved by the content. The sooner we come to terms with this, the better.
If you ask me, content marketing is not a new concept. On the contrary! Content marketing is the oldest and most inexpensive marketing format. Content marketing was born at the same moment when communication was acknowledged as a highly effective tool for achieving particular goals. Content marketing was used by Jesus Christ himself. The simple principle of spreading special stories, the use of appropriate words to draw attention, engaging the public in a two-way communication and active participation in the process of spreading those stories around made the Catholic Church what it is today. This began in the time when the media hardly existed. In my opinion, Jesus was the greatest guru of content marketing. Everybody is advised to study this inspiring principle. Every method and principle used by him to structure and tell stories are still applicable today. They just need to be integrated into all modern media. Not only on the internet or direct mail. From here on, we have to understand the mechanism behind the gearwheels of modern communication. Don’t be consumed by fear. The key is the convergent use of available channels according to the audience, time and space. This is only physics, which can be controlled with a good knowledge of different types of audience behind each media. This calls for diligent collateral learning.
Why it is important to understand the bases for the creation and functioning of content marketing? Since this is a natural development of communicational knowledge acquired in the past for the time, which is already knocking loudly on the door. Things are turning upside down. This is a matter of adaptation. We have to be aware that the best “content marketing” providers are brand owners and managers. People who know their products and clients down to the smallest detail. If/when they start to realize that they are the ones who must master this new communication trend and recognize that if they oppose it and hold on to old and expensive models, they will be dismissed instead of granted membership in a trade union. This is not a threat. This is only a warning. Do not say someday that you weren’t told soon enough (2).
The dynamic communication model we have been developing for the past five years develops communication campaigns with the help of these newly adopted theories. Two-way communication, which is based on understanding user’s needs, single-user orientation in order to reach a hundred users, and not vice versa, a constant flow of communication activities, the engagement of users that are becoming members, and members who are believers or even volunteer ambassadors, is functioning according to the principle of privileged information dissemination. Communication campaigns thus become a cause-and-effect process. All these are a result of a properly designed and managed content marketing, as I understand it. I also advise you not to understand this as yet another modern model for transforming your texts into an efficient vocabulary of key words for interactive browsers or rational text writing methods for direct mail and similar. No, you will yet again fall into the trap of thinking through the media. Internet browsers are only channels. Behind those channels is an audience. This is what makes the channel alive. We have to understand this audience. We have to imagine as if it was real “The Tribe of Many Colors”.* (Kiesha Crowther)
All these modern elements are integrated into a dynamic communication model to rationally achieve different objectives for different genuine audiences, to raise interest with such audiences and their responsiveness. This is not a battle for money, but for souls. Once you have a soul, you have it all.
New communication virtuosos will start to appear in the future. That literally includes artists and artistic communication groups. These will include individuals and teams of professionals, who couldn’t care less about festival awards and other forms of acknowledgements from the same industry. The only recognition will be the proper response from the audience. You will turn communication somersaults through closely selected communication channels. Each campaign will be addressed without prejudice. Any preknowledge and past experience will be denied. The sole focus will be the current know-how. The communication bridge between the audience and the product will be built with child-like innocence. This is the only way to create works of art in the field of communications. When the steering wheel of communications is taken over by artists, soon the wheat will be sorted from the chaff. It will become clear who is an industry’s phony and who is the James Bond of communications. A hot shot will be the one who will get his message through to the TV news and not a commercial block before them. And once featured in the TV news story, he will have to have a detailed plan how to continue. Otherwise it will fail. Advertising will finally cross the borders of commercial blocks and become communication. This is not a single-time action. It is a dynamic process with its own beginning and end. It will be impossible to understand it after the first few steps. It can also deliberately mislead you. It is simply a dynamic flow of smaller interconnected communication links that fit to the characteristics of the audience, space and time in a chain-like manner. The same as the Danube river springs as a clear water pool high up in the mountains, successful communication campaigns will not be unveiled after the first few drops. The routine principle from the past, that when you saw a TV commercial and you saw everything, will not work anymore. The power is in mystery. You will have to go with the flow of communication. Enjoy it or abandon it. The same as you let yourself be swept away by music and, if you don’t like it, you change the station.
We believe that the future of the communication business is very bright. In my opinion, the communication business is of key importance for the success of the economy and politics. What is the first thing that dictators do, who are at risk of being overthrown by oppositional demonstrators? They suspend all types of communication, except communication under surveillance. We must be aware of this power. In the end, marketing is nothing else than a battle.
Many will read this preface only once. And this is what they should do. This is how face-to-face communication functions. The information is privileged. A friend of a friend does not tell the same joke three times. On the contrary, standard advertising requires a minimum of three contacts with the audience to be memorized. And because many among you still hold on to the old principles, we will tell you for the third time:
Don’t say someday that you weren’t told soon enough.
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