You’ve probably heard the saying “nothing happens in a vacuum,” but you’ve probably never considered it in the context of content marketing, and yet, you’d be surprised at how aptly it applies.
When we explored heuristics we discussed the fact that people’s preconceived notions and past experiences color the way they interpret everything they see or hear. This is just as much true when it comes to content marketing as it does anywhere else. How you frame the message you are sharing makes all the difference in how people hear it.
Framing is the act of putting the message you want to convey in a context that allows the intended audience to absorb and interpret what you’re saying exactly the way you want them to hear it. It’s what enables you to control the heuristics of your message. In short, getting your message across isn’t just about the words you choose, it’s about the way you say them.
There are four core framing elements that, when mastered, allow you to control every aspect of how your message is transmitted – tone, placement, design, and, last but not least, the words you choose. Before you delve into the details of each of these parameters, we highly recommend you take the time to establish your buyer personas so you know how each of these elements can be tweaked to apply to your ideal client.
Before you start crafting the marketing message you’d like to convey, it’s important to identify the audience you’ll be targeting and the frame you’d like to create for them. Will you be going with a value based proposition? Focusing on a financial benefit? Are you trying to convey a sense of urgency? Or establishing your expertise in the field? The following elements will make it possible for you to communicate exactly what you intend to infer.
Studies have shown that the tone used in a sentence can radically alter how a person reacts to the information they’re receiving. A patient told that a surgery has a 55% rate of success will be more likely to feel good about going under the knife than if he’s told that it has a 45% rate of failure. The facts are the same, but the perception changes drastically.
When you’re crafting your messages, make sure to use the tone that resonates best with your ideal client while guiding them to the desired end result.
When and where a message is seen makes a world of difference in how it’s integrated. Even if an email is offering the best deal imaginable, if it’s delivered at 4:59pm on a Friday, odds are high it’s going to get ignored.
Optimizing the placement of all of your owned, earned, and paid content distribution based on what your particular audience expects can dramatically improve the way your message is seen and acted on.
Note, time isn’t the only key factor when it comes to placement, which is why having established buyer personas is critical. If you know where your audience hangs out, you’ll be able to deliver messages in truly relevant locations. The more relevant the location, the better the message will be heard.
3. Design and images
You know that thing when you grab your phone to go look at a website and it opens insanely slowly and the font is teeny-tiny because the company never optimized for mobile and by the time the last flash image is done loading you’ve already decided that it doesn’t matter what they’re selling, you’re not buying it from them anyway because they still haven’t left 2005 and you need your item today, not in the past?
You don’t even need to read the words on the homepage to know that the company behind them isn’t modern and sophisticated enough to meet your needs.
That’s because design is one of the elements that guide people’s perception without them even realizing that they’re being influenced. Font size, image choice, color, and layout influence how people see your company and interpret your core messaging. Colors can subtly influence a person’s emotions. Layout draws a prospect’s focus to key elements while illustrating brand identity. And the right photo can put a person in the ideal frame of mind by evoking just the right emotion for the intended message.
A professional graphic designer knows how to make design elements complement the brand messaging to help drive the intended results.
4. Words. Words.
Finally, we come to the meat of any good piece of content: the words! As any good content marketer will tell you, words matter and you definitely can choose the wrong ones.
Words carry a lot more baggage than people might think and many of them come with specific connotations that you might want to avoid. Some come loaded with double entendres, cultural nuances, or unnecessary formality. Whatever you write must contain words that mesh with your brand voice and tone while enhancing your message. Choose carefully and read aloud everything you write to make sure you catch anything that might sound off brand or strange.
Take a look at the marketing materials you come across in the coming days. Can you identify the framing elements bolstering the core message?