Go outside, hop on a subway, or take a walk around your local mall, and it becomes blatantly obvious just how dependent on digital devices people have become. In 2013, a Pew Research Center survey discovered that for the first time since it began keeping track, a majority of Americans owned some kind of smartphone – a statistic that should not be lost on you or anyone else who owns a business.
Because of the nature of smartphones, this proves that Americans are reading, but they certainly are not reading like they used to. Instead of pouring over newspapers or watching the 6:00 news on television to get the day’s happenings, people glance at their smartphones for two seconds to get the latest Tweet telling them what is going on and then continue about their business. Snippets of information, be it in images or short quips, are the way things are trending.
If you want to succeed in the digital age, you have to take a cue from the news world and condense, condense, condense. Here are a few strategies for marketing to what has basically become a non-reading or minimal reading society.
Show Them What You Mean
There is a big segment of the population who will not read anything at all other than what their friends post on Facebook or send in an instant message. How do you reach this demographic, you ask? By showing them what your campaign is all about by using images. You may want to focus your campaign on Instagram or Pinterest, thanks to the visual nature of these social media sites. Choose photographs that are a good representation of what your business is all about, and make sure to include catchy titles and descriptions as well as a link back to your website in case they want to know more.
Another way to reach the non-reader is by making use of meaningful infographics. Infographics are great ways to say a lot – even a lot of complicated, intricate information – without a lot of words to weigh the reader down. Creative, carefully constructed infographics not only explain things to viewers, but they also can boost your SEO and bring in more web traffic at the same time. Good infographics are often shared, reposted, and repeated, which can generate a lot of buzz for your business.
Optimize Your Website
Have you ever been curious about a business or product, visited their website, and found yourself wading through paragraph upon paragraph of information that was either too technical or irrelevant to what you were looking for? Busy, on-the-go types won’t give this kind of website the time of day. A much more user-friendly option is to expertly craft your site so that the user knows exactly where to find what he or she is looking for and doesn’t have to spend a lot of time getting there.
To make your pages busy person friendly, keep the headlines clear and concise, and don’t make paragraphs long or rambling. Even if it feels a bit unnatural, divide sections up into 3-5 line chunks, because this promotes readability and makes it not feel so laborious to get through the material. If you can condense your content without losing the message, do so. The most important material should be at the beginning and the end and contained in the headlines, because more than likely most readers will only focus on these parts, anyway.
Another point to remember is the power of obvious branding. Make your brand really obvious throughout all of your online appearances, be it on your website, social media, or your blog. This makes it really simple for people to know who you are and recognize you when you make an appearance on Facebook or Twitter
Give Them Options
Just like a good teacher conveys a message to his or her class in several different ways to meet the needs of all types of learners, you should also “reteach” your message by offering it in several different packages. For instance, if you are running a web design company, offer a detailed written description of what you do on your website in addition to a multimedia presentation that gives people access to the same information without having to read it.
This is really an interesting thing to think about, because people are really so different when it comes to how they want to get their information. I consider myself to be someone who learns and retains content best if I see it written out, so when someone posts a video only of a product or service, I tend to get a little annoyed. I can only imagine that those people who need to see images rather than read would be equally annoyed at long, written content without any video or image. While you can’t please everybody, you should at least make an attempt to grab both types of consumers. If you make a video, include a transcript. If you write an article, add an infographic. It’s win-win.
Hit Close to Home & Focus
So, you ask, what if my message is something that you just can’t put into a picture or video? What then? Well, you have to use words – but choose them carefully. There are a million different marketing campaigns out there with the same old format, so yours needs to stand out from the crowd if you truly expect a non-reader to bite. One strategy that works well is to personalize your message, making it meaningful to the demographic you are trying to reach rather than just a standard sales pitch. Of course, certain businesses lend themselves to personal testimonials better than others, but if yours is one of them, you should go for it.
Another thing to remember is that your message needs to be focused. You must focus on A) who your target is, and B) the point of your message, because this will make you a much more effective communicator. If a non-reader has to read, make it worth their while, and don’t make that “while” an extended period of time. Keep it simple, clear, focused, and to the point. This is what busy people want and need.
A Final Point
A good marketing message, no matter who you are trying to reach, should have respect at its core. If you operate from a position of respect, then you will avoid things like wasting your consumers’ time with excessive information, unnecessary clutter, and anything other than what you are all about at your core. That’s what they want to know, after all: what can this business do for me?
Make your website, social media campaigns, E-mail messages, newsletters, and blog posts clear and easy to navigate. Use images and multimedia when appropriate. Make your sites just as easy to view on a smartphone as on a PC. Think like a busy executive who is in and out of meetings all day with only a few minutes to look at his or her phone between appointments. Remember that this is not a time to be condescending or self-important, because you will get in the way of what you are trying to say if you are focused on using as many words as possible. Think bite sized until they are ready for the whole meal.