My 8th Grade Realization

You want value in your visual content solution. So you send your content out to as many people as you can in hopes that the more folks who see it, the better it will be for your brand. It makes perfect sense: the more people you reach out to, the better the return, right?

I remember when I was in the 8th grade and our yearbooks arrived. I was determined to get as many people as I could to sign that bad boy. I zigzagged my way through the cafeteria in my HyperColor t-shirt and imposter Z Cavaricci pants in hopes of reaching out to as many of my “friends” as possible so they could write their memories of the school year, of our hilarious times together, and especially, of my amazing self. That night I came home, threw on Kris Kross’ “Jump,” got comfortable, and was pumped to see what everyone had written in my yearbook. Well, as I turned through the pages, I began to see that they didn’t say much of anything; some just signed and were done. I realized I had spent so much time trying to reach out to everyone that I wasn’t concerned about the actual content itself. As my soundtrack quickly changed to Boyz II Men’s “End of the Road,” I came to the realization that I chose reach over quality content.

This same situation goes for creating great visual content. It’s about engagement, not traffic. We are now in an age of a trigger-happy audience — a fast-forward, “Skip-Ad,” On-Demand world. It’s crucial to show your audience that you appreciate their time with a quality piece of visual content. Their time is precious.

Give the content they crave; provide value in your content. Put those ad budget dollars into producing engaging content that will allow for a conversation with your audience, one that will make them want to return. If you’re not making quality video, it doesn’t matter how many people you reach, no one will care.

Make It Right

Focus on the right audience at the right time with the right distribution and just make great content for them. Don’t go crazy trying to reach everyone you possibly can. Find your most valuable audience and communicate with them. Creating visual solutions is not a “one-and-done” thing. It’s a constantly evolving conversation. (8th Grade Throwback Song: Michael Jackson, “Remember the Time”)

Make a “UEI”

There’s already a hefty dose of saturation out there with everybody and their brother publishing some type of content. This means only the best will actually reach your audience. Make sure your content is Useful, Enjoyable, and/or Inspirational (UEI). Making content that does nothing for an audience will just fall flat. Speak to them in their language and they will listen. (8th Grade Throwback Song: En Vogue “My Lovin’ [You Ain’t Ever Gonna Get It])

Make a “Why”

Believe it or not your audience cares. They care about the brands they associate with. And just because you shouldn’t be yelling, “Buy Me!” doesn’t mean you can’t brag a little. If you can show your audience why you care, why you want to succeed, in a creative visual mission statement, they will listen. Your “why” statement is yours only; no one can take that from you and copy it. Be authentic and the audience’s trust will follow. (8th Grade Throwback Song: Mr. Big, “To Be With You”)

Make It a Date

Fight the urge to want to promote immediately to your audience, at least on the first few “dates.” It takes a little effort. Seduce them a bit by getting them to like your content and, in turn, be turned on by your brand. Just like the dating game, you have to be smooth and gain trust before getting to home base. (8th Grade Throwback Song: Vanessa Williams, “Save the Best for Last”)

Make It Today

Today’s audience demands more. They are inundated with information throughout their days. Make your content relevant to today and what’s going on around them. Forget the fluff because your audience will immediately forget about you. If you can hook your audience, they’ll always return to you. (8th Grade Throwback Song: K.W.S., “Please Don’t Go”)

Make valuable content for your audience so they reach out to you. Had my 8th grade self simply engaged my real friends, told them “why” it was important to me, and asked them at the right time (not while “scarfing” down their Lunchables and Capri Suns), I would have had much greater success in that yearbook.

Make sure your content is “2 Legit 2 Quit” (M.C. Hammer) and they’ll “Keep Coming Back” (Richard Marx).