Marketing and branding is an exercise in futile frustration. Results are dictated by how much money is thrown at strategies that are best summed up as “spray and pray.” Whether it’s SEO, ads, content marketing, website redesign, or social media marketing strategy, the bottom line for most depends on getting enough volume exposure to eventually turn a profit.
The problem is that most business owners get too tired of throwing money at anything long before they achieve the necessary traffic volume needed to make the strategy successful. Then another professional comes along and offers compelling data as to why another channel will solve their problem. More money is invested, the result remains the same, and it moves on to the next one.
The channel, platform or strategy used to grow an audience and bring in leads has little to do with achieving the desired result. All of them can work, but they all lack one key element that makes them work: Art direction. Most websites, ad campaigns, and branding don’t take art direction into account, and because of that, they struggle to produce profit.
Art direction creates a specific emotional response by consciously coordinating all content from graphics to video and text to a broad theme. This means that instead of throwing together things that “look” or “sound” good enough and hope it works, it’s about first looking at what emotional response we want a person to have and making decisions that coordinate everything together to work towards that goal.
People are driven by emotions. Even the most logical person makes decisions based on how they feel. The difference is that the logical person comes up with technical reasons to justify their decision.
Start with how someone should feel, not the end result you want.
We get so caught up in trying to land a prospect or customer that we don’t even start with the basics: Getting someone’s attention and getting them to act. To capture attention in a world with an endless stream of content, you need to focus on how you want someone to feel when they see your content.
Do you want them to feel empowered? Inspired? Afraid? Comforted? Happy? Emotions create connection and are a powerful psychological motivator. To get where you want to go, you need to have an idea of what emotions you want to draw out of your audience.
Think about how your customers feel before and after they shop with you.
To establish a holistic approach, we need to create a brand “essence” rooted in the emotions that people experience while doing business with you. The easiest way to find them is to look back on your own sales calls and experiences with customers and think about what their feelings are before they do business with you and how they feel afterwards.
Knowing what their feelings are that prompted them to seek you out in the first place gives you valuable insight into the emotional feeling you need to evoke in your marketing. By emphasizing how they will feel afterward, you can create a “storyline” that takes them from where they are now to where they want to be.
Coordinate content to reinforce the emotions you want to highlight.
Once you know the emotions you want to bring out, it’s all about coordinating graphics, images, video, audio and text together to reinforce and support drawing those emotions out. Instead of posting things that “look cool” for the sake of being cool, you approach your website, ad campaigns, and marketing with intention under an art direction that is fulfilled by your content.
So with your art-directed material, it’s all about distributing them in the right channels. This is where you decide how you want to approach reaching people: SEO, ads, social media, and so on. Except the difference is that you have much more powerful, compelling content to actually connect with people instead of bombarding them with more boring reasons to “buy now.”