The missing element of your marketing strategy: art direction
Marketing and branding is an exercise in futile frustration. Results are dictated by the amount of money invested in strategies that are best summed up as “spray and pray”. Whether it’s SEO, ads, content marketing, a website redesign, or a social media marketing strategy, for the most part, the outcome depends on such volume exposure. that there is ultimately a profit.
The problem is that most business owners get too burnt out throwing money at something long before they’ve reached the volume of traffic needed for the strategy to succeed. Then another professional comes along and offers compelling data on why another channel will solve their problem. More money is invested, the result remains the same and it’s on to the next one.
The channel, platform, or strategy deployed to grow an audience and attract leads has little to do with achieving the desired result. All of them can work, but they all lack a key element that makes them work: art direction. Most websites, advertising campaigns and branding efforts pay no attention to art direction and because of that, they struggle to turn a profit.
Art direction creates a specific emotional response by intentionally coordinating all content, from graphics to video and text, into a broad theme. This means that instead of putting things together that “seem” or “sound” pretty good and hope it works, it’s about first looking at what emotional response we want a person to have and make decisions that coordinate everything to work towards that goal.
People are driven by emotion. Even the most logically oriented person makes decisions based on how they feel. The difference is that the logical person offers technical reasons to justify his decision.
Start with how someone should feel, not the end result you want.
We get so caught up in finding a prospect or customer that we don’t even start with the basics: capturing someone’s attention and moving them to action. 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? Fear? Comforted? Happy? Emotion creates connection and is a powerful psychological motivator. To get where you want to go, you need to have an idea of the emotions you want to bring out in your audience.
Think about how your customers feel before and after doing business with you.
To establish a holistic approach, we need to create a brand “essence” rooted in the emotions people feel when doing business with you. The easiest way to find them is to look back on your own sales calls and experiences with customers and reflect on their emotions before they did business with you and how they feel afterwards.
Knowing what their feelings are that made them seek you out in the first place gives you valuable insight into the emotional feel you need to convey in your marketing. Focusing on how they will feel next allows you to create a “script” that takes them from where they are now to where they want to be.
Coordinate content to reinforce the emotions you want to bring out.
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 bringing out those emotions. Rather than putting on things that “look cool” to be cool, you approach your website, ad campaigns, and marketing with intent under an art direction that is fulfilled by your content.
Then, with your art-directed materials, it’s all about deploying them in the right channels. This is where you decide how you want to approach people: SEO, ads, social media, etc. Except the difference is that you have much more powerful and compelling content to actually connect with people rather than blasting them with more boring “buy now” reasons.