If you’re struggling to get the message about your business heard in this post-digital revolution age, you’ve probably already come to terms with what I’m about to say. And if you haven’t, I hate to be the one to break it to you, but…

Advertising as we know it is dead.

I’m from Italy. Both my parents were kids during the late 50s and early 60s, so they grew up in the Golden Age of Advertising, and I can’t recall how many times they told me how much they loved ‘Carosello’ (which is Italian for ‘carousel’), a very popular advertising show that ran on RAI, the national public broadcasting channel from 1957 to 1977.

From 8:50pm to 9pm, the whole country would literally come to a halt, sit in front of the TV set and take in a 10-minute commercial reel that featured then up-and-coming brands such as Ferrero or Bialetti.

My father confessed to me he used to think about those treasured ten minutes of frenzy all day. It was his first taste of television. He just loved it. He couldn’t get enough of it. He even bought a Carosello DVD collection a couple years ago.

It was massive. Throughout the 60s, the show had an average audience of about 20 million viewers. 20 million! What TV show gets even close to having a 20-million-viewer audience today? You’d have to get Donald Trump hosting the Oscars, or something.

Carosello thoroughly permeated the Italian cultural landscape. Its slogans and phrases have become part of the popular slang. We still use them today, often without even knowing where they originated from.

But something like Carosello would absolutely be impossible today.

Why it doesn’t work anymore

You’d be a massive fool if you expected people to stop everything they’re doing and tune in to watch your latest TV commercial. The Marketing Police would abduct you from your house in the middle of the night and lock you up.

As a marketing model, old-school advertising is just not good enough anymore.  Not only it’s not good enough, it doesn’t make sense.

People are constantly bombarded by messages all day. Why should they notice yours in the midst of all the spammy chaos they’re dealing with, let alone stop what they’re doing and listen to it?

If you want to be sure your messages are being heard today, you have to think and act differently. Not only from the good old days of Carosello but from what everyone else is doing now, as well.

That’s where Disruptive Marketing comes in. That is, marketing your business in ways that stops the very people you want to do business with in. their. tracks.

No scrolling past, no getting lost in the crowd.

And it’s all about engagement.

Using engagement to win at marketing in the digital age 

Much like JFK’s assassination, the marketing definition of engagement is the subject of continuous debate.

The first book by our CEO, Jody, narrows it down to this:

hello genius engage your audience quote

Obviously, the first thing you have to do in order to engage you audience is to win their attention. But that’s not enough. In fact, that’s merely the first and arguably easier part, because anyone can do it.

Put a kitten or two in your video and you’re onto a social media winner, no questions asked. People are bound to share it.

But you can’t stop and rest on your laurels just because a video has gone viral, more so if for all the wrong reasons. Virality is not a good measure of engagement. Here’s the thing, and this is very important:

Engagement is NOT about technology, or the media you use to communicate.

Your audience is not the sum of the impressions, views, likes, shares, clickthroughs and conversions you get through your social media presence.

Your audience is made up of people. As in, proper human beings.

In order to engage them properly, you can’t be satisfied just with capturing their attention. Anyone can do that, it’s just a case of who shouts loudest. Too many marketers are still convinced all they have to do in order to be successful is talk, talk and talk some more to people about their awesome service or product.

They forget to observe and listen before making a point. 

You know how the Planet Earth cameramen have to wait patiently in knee-deep mud, covered by snow or under the scorching desert sun for five years in order to capture THAT shot? Well you, too, have to invest time and energy to become an expert about your industry, beyond just knowing its different services inside out.

Take the time to work out who you’re talking to

It’s an excruciating process, but there are no shortcuts, but the best marketing is analog, experiential and based in the physical world. Ask people what they think about your brand. Engage them in conversation. You have to listen to them before you get to talk with them.

By researching everything there is to know about your audience, why your industry has evolved the way it has and where things could improve, you’ll gain a pretty darn good understanding of how the humans you’re trying to appeal to think about services in your line of work.

From this, you’ll be able to lead your marketing strategy thinking not about what media or technology you’ll use to reach your audience; that will come second. The first thing on your mind will be the message; what you actually need to speak to them about to truly engage them. Soon you’ll be a trusted source of relevant content who consumers rely on for the most helpful insights.

This is key.

But OK, once you know what you need to talk to your audience about and the means through which you’ll deliver this message, how do you go about setting this all up to work as intended?

Introducing C2T2…

The C2T2 formula: Your best friend when writing your marketing

I know, it sounds a bit like C3PO’s long lost brother.

But C2T2 is a powerful tool our CEO, Jody, developed to guide his own copywriting and if you’re serious about getting results from your marketing, it’s something you’d be foolish to ignore.

The trouble is, too often a piece of writing feels like it’s there “solely to deliver a message and nothing else, like a news story. Cold, impersonal”, as Jody explains in The Engagement Formula.

And that’s where C2T2 comes in. To help you convey just the right message to audience, in a way that’s genuinely interesting and readable. 

Don’t get put off by the scientific look of this all. Sure the concept’s based on logic, but it’s not as chemistry-driven as the name might suggest. Instead, C2T2 simply stands for:

  1. Colour
  2. Content
  3. Tone and
  4. Takeaway

Let’s start at the beginning…

  • Colour: Making a rainbow of your marketing

Your message needs to be rich, vibrant and able to engage the senses of your audience. In one word, you want colour.

Colour offers those details which transform words into mind pictures. With colour, you’re bringing emotion into the game.

How do you pull colour into your copy? Through story. Back to The Engagement Formula for the perfect explanation:

“From the dawn of man, and before writing, storytelling was the primary medium through which we’ve passed knowledge down the years.

In these ancient civilisations, storytellers were venerated. They brought to the masses tales of Gods and monsters and hand down the stories and legends from one generation to the next.

As humans, we are hardwired to respond to stories rather than dry facts and figures. Our empathetic response to hearing a story is to immediately find context so that we can place ourselves in the situation. It allows us to feel it more completely, to immerse ourselves in it. Because of this, storytelling is the method through which to deliver colour to our copy.”

Even Carosello 50 years ago perfectly understood the power of storytelling, that stories and characters are the best way to appeal to your audience and have them emotionally invested in your message, and consequently in your brand.

I’d love to show you one of the original Carosello ads so you can see how masterfully they achieved this, but they’re all in Italian.

Instead, take a minute to see how Save The Children manages to jolt an emotional response out of us in this TV ad:

Next time you come across an ad or watch a commercial, pay attention whether you get emotionally invested in it and if it is successful in gripping you from the start and holding your attention. Because that’s should be the end goal for your marketing, too.

So, coming up with a powerful story that packs an emotional punch is the first step.

And we’ve already spoken about using a deep understanding of your audience and industry to dictate the subject of your Content.

Next up?

How to convey your vibrant message in a way that really grabs your reader.

It’s time to perfect your Tone of Voice.

  • Tone: it’s not what you say but how you say it

We mentioned C3PO earlier, and now he’s back again. Why? Because the one thing you need to avoid is making your marketing sound like him. Robotic, dead inside.

Tone is a major factor in the way people perceive your brand. It’s not something you improvise, it has to be carefully developed, as you have to make sure it’s in-sync with your audience.

“Talk to your reader in a particular way and they’ll respond positively. Get it wrong and talk to them in a different way and they’ll have a different reaction. You can get all the right content, but if you botch the delivery of that content it’s all for nothing.”

To know what tone you should aim for in your marketing, you need to return to your values as a business. What’s the ethos at the heart of everything you do, and how you work? Make a list, and there you have it: the personality which every element of your marketing should adopt.

Just take a look at Virgin. They are world class when it comes to hitting the right tone in their marketing. They speak to their audience as if they’re already good friends who’re on the same page. It’s playful, cheeky, conversational and a little bit renegade. And you can bet people notice it.

Courtesy of Chris Morrison

Colour, Content and Tone ticked off, you might think you’re done.

But there’s one last ingredient that’s essential if you ever want your marketing to turn around sales…

  • Takeaway: providing value upfront

This is a way of approaching every material in your marketing arsenal with the mindset: what value are we giving away here?

Business is a two-way street, and in the same way as you’d likely foot the bill if you took a hot prospect out for a drink, you need to consider your marketing as a vehicle through which you give away value upfront, and get potential customers on your side by doing so.

For the lack of a bar and credit card, when it comes to offering value in your content, we’re talking about your expertise.

Show your prospect you’re the real deal – and that they can trust you – by providing them with useful, applicable advice before they make the relationship formal.

This goes for everything you put out in the public domain. Your website? Offer a free download that explains how to overcome one of the most simple problems people turn to you with.  Your brochure? On each service page, use a real-life example of exactly how your product has helped someone else and how they can do the same. Your blogs? Talk your reader through a preventative measure to keep them from further trouble.

And that’s the C2T2 formula in a nutshell.

If you’re finding this stuff useful, there’s plenty more where it comes from in The Engagement Formula itself. Pick it up on Amazon here.

Still with us?

You should now be at a point where you’ve a clear idea about what we mean by that fluffy word, engagement, and exactly how to achieve it in your marketing to cut through the noise in a world saturated by ads and content.

Go ahead with applying this stuff in your business today to start outplaying your competitors and experience the kind of marketing ROI you long considered impossible.

If you’ve got to the end of your read feeling  less than certain about any of the things we’ve covered, don’t hold back; get in touch. We’d hate to think you’ve just spent 10 minutes of your (probably very busy) day reading our guide only to feel at a loss as to what to do next.

Just send your questions to hello@hellogenius.co.uk

Over and out.