It’s The Most Messagy Time of the Year

Image courtesy of anthonycz at 123RF

Image courtesy of anthonycz at 123RF

As the holidays approach, we may be bracing ourselves for message overload. Mailboxes are stuffed with pamphlets and newsletters. Inboxes are loaded with bold-faced, unread emails asking for donations. Petition slingers line the streets. And newspapers tip the scale at 4 pounds of sale ads.

No one is plotting a daily dose of guilt for us. We are not the designated prey of vicious marketing hounds. But it feels like it sometimes.

This is a volume issue: quantity and intensity.

So, in these days of mass messaging, how can organizations stand out and harness our support? David Wallis’ recent article in The New York Times highlights a few issues and solutions.

Wallis addresses an increase in quantity by citing the National Center for Charitable Statistics study that showed an increase in the number of registered nonprofit organizations by more than 21 percent between 2001 and 2011.

In addition, Wallis describes the intensity of messaging as shock, noise and vulgar expression. We’ve all seen examples of messaging turn-offs. More is not always better.

However, intensity, if done well, can be compelling and can incite action. It can even be fun and, more importantly, sharable.

McCann Erickson’s Melbourne marketing team created the “Dumb Ways to Die” campaign for Metro Trains in 2012. The goal was to increase safety around the train station. Make safety appealing to young people. Hmmm. That’s a tough one.

McCann decided to go with funny, irreverent, a little gross and super catchy. And they nailed it!

The original song and video went viral. Mobile apps followed and even an interactive game starring the video’s animated characters. The likable and sharable campaign spurred social media interests to do the legwork for Metro Trains.

Is creating the next viral video the right answer for every organization? Not necessarily. Instead, message creators should consider segmenting their key publics as much as possible. One BIG idea, even if you crank up the volume, will not be heard and certainly not responded to by everyone.

In this year’s sea of holiday messaging, ask yourself “What catches my attention?” And more importantly, “What messages compel me to act? And why?”


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November 15, 2013 · 3:00 am

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