There’s a phenomenon currently happening in business, and it’s happening irrespective of product, service, or industry. The various audiences who’s attention we’re trying to capture exhibit many of the same characteristics seen in Hollywood casting agents. It’s easy to see why if we look purely at the economics of developing businesses as they relate to the entertainment industry. What’s the only part of your economics class you remembered? That’s right – supply and demand. We’re in 2016, where the supply of content in the overall market has exceeded demand, and this isn’t only true for companies producing content. Think about how you live your life. Social media, Netflix, email, movies, etc. is all content. You could fill entire consecutive days on purely consumption. There’s so much content available that you couldn’t possibly consume it all. That’s exactly how casting agents feel. Every day they have to weed out fantastic people who would be great in a particular role, those who are great and just aren’t a good fit, and those who are just plain awful. When the supply of something surpasses it’s demand, prices decrease, and as a society we equate price to value. With that in mind, we’ve assumed a conditional bias when faced with new content. We inherently perceive it’s value to be low until proven otherwise.
We currently find ourselves living on opposite ends of the spectrum, because we live in a world where there’s more possible exposure than ever; new distribution channels are created every month and we’re more connected than at any other point in history, yet our ability to stand out from the crowd is at the pinnacle of difficulty. One of the largest contradictions I’m seeing in modern business is that thought leaders in the space continue to push the message that content remains a vehicle for breaking through the noise, even though content is perhaps the single largest contributor of the noise to begin with. As the adage goes, if you had a dime for every time someone told you that you need to be producing content, you’d be rich. Marketers and business owners need to break through the noise and ensure their message is heard by the right people the same way the college graduate who just moved to Hollywood to pursue a career as an actor/actress does.
So what’s the solution? How can entrepreneurs building companies, entire teams in larger established companies, and individuals building their personal brands break through the noise?
If you look at the way the entertainment industry operates, you’ll quickly realize it’s a giant hamster wheel. We have a large number of people competing for a single role, but what are the people that want the role doing to set themselves apart? Talent isn’t always enough, but they still grind through casting call after casting call until they get lucky. The same way talent isn’t enough, neither is luck. Don’t be the casting call of content. Think about the people who got to where they wanted to be through alternate avenues. Emerging platforms have allowed an entirely new generation of people to enter the spotlight – YouTube, Vine, Periscope, etc. Emerging platforms create emerging opportunities for those willing to embrace them.
The Best People Always Win
First, realize that most content actually is bad. Not everyone was born to excel at building businesses or producing content people care to engage with, just as I wasn’t born with the gift of cooking amazing meals in the kitchen. If you look at content similar to yours and it doesn’t appear to have high engagement or visibility, don’t follow in their footsteps. That’s your cue to approach the topic from a different perspective. It’s also important to self-audit your own content. If it hasn’t historically done well, have the self awareness to realize you just may not be good enough and seek help in this area. The bottom line is – if you’re content is good enough, the right people will see it and you’ll win.
More Isn’t Always Better
This leads into the next point we need to understand. We’ve seem to have set the precedence that the more people that see our content, the better off we are. If you feel this way, you’re not alone. I’m here to give you an alternate view however. What matters even more than the number of people that see your content, is that the right people see your content. I love Formula 1, and I’d much rather have a blog post on my thoughts for the upcoming season only receive 10 views if it was seen by one of the media companies that cover the sport or one of the teams directly than I would have it shared with 20,000 people if none of them were even racing fans and only shared it because if I referenced a funny meme. Do you see the difference? Don’t get caught up in the numbers. You never know who the one person that saw your content is connected to and could share it with. Remember that real people are behind the numbers you see, and all of them matter.
You Are Your Own Audience
We tend to produce content around topics that interest us. Embrace this. This boils down to being 100% committed to whatever you’re doing. You can’t be 75% in it. If you’re a business owner, you’re most likely well invested in reaching the goals you’ve set forth. By writing content that appeals to you, you’ll be 100% in it for the long haul and will attract like-minded people to your content. If you’re producing content on behalf of a company and are writing solely because you like writing and aren’t well vested in the topic, it’ll show in your content and you’ll lose. Be your own audience first.
As I think about the evolution of how we build brands, one thing is clear. The waters will become increasingly muddy as more people fully adopt the tools and technologies that allow them to produce content across an array of mediums. By following the guidance above and pursuing the path less traveled, you’ll increase your probability of reaching your intended audience and developing a successful brand. Focus less on mass appeal and speak with people who fit your audience on an individual basis. The internet is not a replacement for peer-to-peer interaction. Rather, it serves as a vehicle to facilitate communication in new ways.