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Visual Communication transcends language: Tara Marsh @Goafest 2016

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Visual Communication transcends language: Tara Marsh @Goafest 2016

Tara Marsh, Global Head of Content at Wunderman, spoke at Goafest 2016 on the integral role content marketing plays in today’s world, with audience attention continuously shrinking. This scenario has, according to her, raised the bar when it comes to creating the right communication strategy, right from creating the content, deciding the format and delivering it to the audience.

Quoting the Rational Choice theory, which has its foundation in the ideas of Adam Smith and states that given a number of choices, the consumer will choose the one they feel is best for them while minimizing loss; she stated that though this sounds logical, people do not always behave rationally when making choices.

Calling humans “feeling machines that also think rather than thinking machines”, she said, “Without emotion we are not able to think. It is the link between the rational and the irrational. If you want to change someone’s mind, logic does not work very well but we (marketers) are in the business of getting people to change their mind and make decisions. How does a brand help someone make a decision; to choose their product or service?”

The objective, she said, should be to minimize the stress of decision making and not to force a transaction. “You need to have a powerful narrative; this is at the core of all good marketing. What it comes down to is that good content is about finding the prime interest between the brand and the consumer and then contributing to it. The very best content looks to add to culture. Storytelling is about tapping into the emotion, being engaging,” she said.

As an example of how great content makes use of, and adds to, culture, she gave the example of a campaign done by Peru’s Cusqueña beer, which created hoardings using textiles woven by Peru’s indigenous tribes. The learning from this is that even traditional media can be brought to life in a variety of ways.

Content marketing, though not a new concept has become extremely relevant right now, said Marsh. One reason for this, explained Marsh, is that the audience has become smarter and better at ignoring traditional marketing. New technologies are further exacerbating this, an example of which is the ad blocker.

“For engaging the audience, the bar has been raised, which is why we are going back to the fundamentals of marketing,” she said.

Marsh defined content marketing as content the user chooses to spend time on, which should be relevant and provide value to them. To do this, marketers have to contest with limited attention spans and a plethora of content available online. For example, a Facebook ad sandwiched between updates from friends and family. The competition is not with other brands but with life itself, said Marsh.

Marsh further broke down the concept of value by saying that it should reflect information, education, inspiration, entertainment, utility and experience. “It is not just sufficient to give the right information and education. The way you show it is also important,” she stated.

She also reiterated that video content is increasingly becoming important as a content format. She shared findings from a neurological study, which showed that after two weeks we tend to remember just 10 per cent of what we read, 20 per cent of what we hear, 30 per cent of what we see and 50 per cent of what we see and hear.

She further highlighted this by pointing out to the increase in popularity and usage of emojis. “Visual communication transcends language. It is important to start thinking about how we can tell stories in different ways,” she explained.

Marsh also advised brands to start collaborating with content partners to create great content while also leveraging data to understand what content will work. To highlight the second point, she gave the example of Netflix’s House of Cards, which is the most streamed show on the platform in the US and 40 other countries. “How do we find the right stories? Netflix knew that David Fincher (Director) was highly popular and everything Kevin Spacey (lead actor) does is highly successful. They also had data to show that the original British series was a great success. This gave them the confidence to invest in the series,” she informed.

The last advice that Marsh gave the audience was to combine creativity with data in every step of the process to make the idea work. “Content marketing comes down to putting your audience first,” said Marsh.


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