Marketers Should Embrace, Not Fear, The Complicated
Every so often, typically at the end of a long travel day or client dinner, after hours of exchanging war stories which include tales of covering presidential elections and staying on the air as the production truck catches fire, I’ll get the question.
“Why do you do this, when you could be doing that?”
This often refers to the field I work in at that moment. Why do I do legal communications? Why do I craft communications around patent reform? International Trade? Anti-corruption campaigns? How come I work with computer security? Privacy rights and regulations? Technology research?
The answer is simple, just three words: “Because it’s hard.”
In producing news and sports, getting the audience to not just follow but identify with the content is intrinsically easy. Most producers are almost guaranteed success. Humankind has been captivated by athletic competition, leadership politics, the weather, and fire since time immemorial. If you flip over to your nearest news website, you’d likely find those four topics above the fold right now.
I love this challenge. I love marketing and communicating topics like intellectual property, geopolitics, business, security, technology, finance. I love it because it’s hard. It makes me think, pushes me to be a sharper storyteller.
I believe communications should not be complicated, even if the topic is.
Here is my four-part approach to dissecting and then building a dynamic, effective campaign for a complex subject:
Wrap yourself up in the subject. Constantly ask: “Why is this cool? Why should someone care?” If you can’t come up with an answer to this question, you haven’t looked hard enough.
Take the most subject to it’s most human level. How do people interact with this? How can we make this a positive interaction?
Make It Real
The second, more important phase of humanizing. Find ways to make the subject matter tangible, clear, and obvious to the audience.
Make It Matter
Finally, in the last phase, now that the audience can almost literally hold the topic in their hand, create a sense of urgency around it. Make them care about it. Get that audience to take the next step, to make the commitment to care.
One of the best in the business at this is a comedian. HBO’s John Oliver, who takes complex topics apart every week, informs, delights, and motivates audiences. To see these principles in action, take a look at some of his works, and find where each step comes alive for the viewer.
Joe Gura is a marketing communications strategist, and has a Master of Science degree in Integrated Marketing Communications from West Virginia University. Connect with Joe on LinkedIn or follow Joe on Twitter: @joegura