Visceral: it takes Game of Thrones-style violence to provoke a reaction
Visceral: it takes Game of Thrones-style violence to provoke a reaction
A view from Rob Mansfield

Visceral content is all that counts in an attention-starved world

Think about your journey into work this morning. If it's anything like mine it would have been filled with media, writes Rob Mansfield, group digital content manager at Age UK.

Now try to remember what stood out. Of all those blog posts, radio interviews, newspaper articles, tweets, YouTube videos, emails, Facebook statuses, which still holds a prominent place in your thoughts?

You’re struggling, aren’t you? That short exercise emphasises how difficult it is to get cut-through.

Joy, disgust, surprise, hatred - these are the emotions that drive our share and care mentality. 

Every day, we’re exposed to at least 1,000 messages, yet according to research 89% go unnoticed. That’s thousands of pounds wasted on a daily basis.

So how do we do it? How do we make best use of our precious budgets and create content that will make some noise?

Visceral content has impact

If you think about the things that resonate with you, they will all have one thing in common. They will all provoke a strong emotion.

Whether it's shocking images of refugees, a video of a cat falling off a sofa, or a blood-thirsty episode of Game of Thrones, something visceral will happen to you: joy, disgust, surprise, hatred. These are the emotions that drive our share and care mentality. 

If you think about the stuff you share personally on social media, it's blindingly obvious, but it’s all too easy to forget when we're creating something brand-related. 

So now put your work head on. What messages or content have you created in the last week? Did they have a strong, emotional pull to them? Can you honestly say they’ll inspire your audience enough to be shared, saved or even remembered?

Be honest. They probably didn’t, did they? And it’s a problem that we all face. Every single day.

Don't pretend it's brilliant

Every time we create something new, this is where we have to start. We need to think about how it will make the customer feel. Will it satisfy their underlying need? Will it stop them in their tracks and make them reconsider what they were about to do long enough to put your brand front and centre of their thoughts?

Most of the time, the answer is ‘no’. We pretend that we’re putting something brilliant out there that will ‘knock the socks off’ the customer, whereas in reality, we’re probably just trying to get it past the boss or the client.

So here’s my challenge to you. Don’t just dash off the next piece of content you create. Just for once, stop and put yourself in the shoes of the person you’re targeting.

Think about where they’re likely to be when they see your content. On a packed Tube scrolling through their Facebook feed? Checking Twitter on the sofa during the X-Factor ad break? Browsing a magazine during lunch break?

What will it take to throw them off their game long enough to notice your ad, your story, or your video? Do your pictures have enough instant impact on a smartphone? Is your email subject line the right length to work in Gmail? Is your bus ad funny enough to get people Instagramming it?

And at the heart of all of this is the crucial question: have you got a truly great story to tell? If you can’t answer ‘yes’ to that, then forget it.

Rob Mansfield is speaking at Marketing's Digital Exchange Forum in October. Visit the Marketing Digital Exchange Forum website to find out how to attend.