You probably heard the buzz in the news recently when President Barack Obama made a commencement speech at Hampton University in Virginia. The president made headlines in the media, which portrayed him as anti-technology because of something he said about a handful of electronic gadgets. Here is the part of his speech everyone’s talking about:
“You’re coming of age in a 24/7 media environment that bombards us with all kinds of content and exposes us to all kinds of arguments, some of which don’t always rank that high on the truth meter. And with iPods and iPads; and Xboxes and PlayStations – none of which I know how to work – information becomes a distraction, a diversion, a form of entertainment, rather than a tool of empowerment, rather than the means of emancipation. So all of this is not only putting pressure on you; it’s putting new pressure on our country and on our democracy.
Class of 2010, this is a period of breathtaking change, like few others in our history. We can’t stop these changes, but we can channel them, we can shape them, we can adapt to them.”
Now, if you’ve followed the president at all you’d know that he is not anti-technology. Much was made when he was elected about his giving up his precious Blackberry. He also gave the queen of England the gift of an iPod on a visit there. He wasn’t saying the devices are the problem.
What he was saying about messages in the media, however, was underscored by how the media seized on that part of the message. What he was saying to the graduates was that education should help them sift through the distracting messages, that the “spin” put on information out there needs to be processed thoughtfully. As if to prove his point, there were dozens of “Obama hates Apple” headlines that followed.
Technology has re-shaped information for centuries; the printed word did, radio did, TV did and, more recently, the Internet has. With each change has come a challenge for the audience, which is increasingly asked to believe more subjective, even contradictory, information.
For example, I recently read on a news aggregation website two headlines about the same story. One said: “No ‘frenzy’ to beat homebuyer tax credit deadline.” The other headline said: “Selling frenzy as homebuyer tax credit nears end.”
What is a reader supposed to believe?
The way consumers have been bombarded with information has changed the way marketing works. The messages that were once sent to consumers to “buy, buy, buy” aren’t received the same way. The sales pitches are hitting an audience that is mistrustful and skeptical of information, and so they are often ignored.
It’s why content-driven marketing has become so important. The best marketers are the ones who are providing less-overt, information-driven messages to their prospects. They are the ones who are able to package their marketing in a manner of delivery that is helpful to their customers – or prospective customers – and also builds the trust factor. It’s why we have blogs, Twitter accounts and do article marketing. We want people to get to know us.
Content-driven marketing is effective because:
- It gives you the ability to be timely, to capture the “buzz” surrounding current events
- It can be constant and consistent because it’s not a hard-sell
- It allows you to shape your message in the context of the news
- It can be delivered in a number of ways
- It builds your credibility
Actually, content-driven marketing is not any big leap from the old marketing adage “Don’t tell them; show them,” it’s just that in this day and age, we have to “show” them the benefits we provide in the form of content they can digest and appreciate in this day and age of information overload. They don’t want to hear you say “I can find your dream home,” or “I can sell your house,” they want you to SHOW them that you’re the expert, and the person they can trust.
Prospects and clients are starving for a reliable source of information they can trust; it’s up to YOU to be that source. It’s a mistake to let other media shape your message.
Just ask President Obama.
Believe it or not, you can learn a very valuable lesson on content-driven marketing in a unique story about two farmers. You can read the story and find the marketing lesson at www.FreeFarmerReport.com.