Mark Schaefer & Brian Solis: How to Combat Shrinking Audiences & Changing Customer Preferences

It’s no secret that many people today are facing a crisis known as content shock. In fact, there is so much access to incredibly thoughtful, entertaining, and interesting content out there on the web, that it’s honestly quite frustrating not being able to absorb it all. Do you feel the same?

Personally, I am a voracious consumer of content – and that’s the just content I want to read for the purposes of my own education. From the hundreds of emails, promotions, and newsletters that hit our inboxes, to the stacks of industry publications on our desks at work, to the unopened piles of snail mail, to the books vying for our attention that we haven’t yet been able to read, to the blogs we subscribe to, to the thousands of important tidbits of information being shared constantly on social media among friends, family, colleagues, celebrities, and brands in the form of pictures, tweets, videos, and posts … information is grasping for our attention at an unprecedented rate, and we can’t keep up. And at the same time, of course, audiences are shrinking. So what can we do about it?

From the perspective of the content provider, there are two incredibly helpful solutions outlined below. In the first part, you can learn more about how to adjust tactics and strategies to break through the clutter in your messaging, courtesy of Mark Schaefer. The second portion offers a deeper philosophical understanding of the shifting consumer landscape from Brian Solis, and what to do about it.

How to Adjust Your Content Marketing Tactics & Strategies to Combat Content Overload

In a post written by Mark Schaefer called “Content Shock: Why content marketing is not a sustainable strategy,” he defines this term as such:

Content Shock: The emerging marketing epoch defined when exponentially increasing volumes of content intersect our limited human capacity to consume it.

What this means essentially, is that relying on a content strategy in today’s marketing landscape is quickly going to become a losing battle due to changing market dynamics. According to Mark, the average American spends about 10 hours a day consuming content, a number that has risen steadily year by year!

In a follow up post he wrote entitled “10 Strategies to Battle Content Shock,” Mark outlines 10 ways marketers can counteract this phenomenon, and it’s great. Among the advice, he suggests:

  • Atomizing your content to deliver information in non-traditional or bite sized pieces
  • Incorporating entertainment
  • Utilizing alternative delivery channels
  • Taking advantage of content parternships
  • Paying to play
  • Focusing on being more human and developing the relationship

Even though content as a strategy is becoming less effective overall, there are still plenty of ways to create, share, and distribute content that will really get noticed.

Customer Experience Now Trumps the Product Offering Itself

On a separate but related note, I happened to catch a video this week from Brian Solis on the future of business (together Mark and Brian are two of my favorites, and yes their thoughts and words do receive the share of my attention)!

At the Altimeter Group, Brian Solis studies the effect of technology and digital media on human behavior. Why this is interesting is because he tells the other side of the story about content shock, specifically, how behaviors are changing among consumers, and why customer experience should become the top priority (which is now even more important than the product itself). In this great video interview, Solis also talks about the future of business, and “the customer we think we’ve always known” vs. the “digital customer.”

One of the key takeaways for me? These changes in behavior are having a swift and lasting impact on our marketing efforts. There is now a need for multiple strategies that resonate across demographic and psychographic traits, as opposed to the need for multiple marketing campaigns  aimed at one particular segment (implied). In short, this video is worth watching if you’re at all concerned about content shock’s impact on your bottom line, because he takes the time to analyze consumer behavior, habits, traits, and how we as marketers really need to work around those findings to better locate, engage and connect with our targeted groups.

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