The world of online marketing, social media, and the digital marketplace has opened the floodgates on the raging river of information. With so many options to deliver your message, why are CEOs and Entrepreneurs finding it harder than ever to reach their audience? Unfortunately, the technology that allows everyone to be heard has a side effect, everyone’s talking and nobody’s listening.
Over the past few years I’ve helped countless companies, CEOs, and entrepreneurs simplify, craft and create their message in an effort to hack the shrinking attention span of our culture (a Microsoft study says humans are down to 8.2 seconds, shorter than a goldfish). But lately I’ve noticed I’m getting nearly as many inquiries about how to deliver the message as I am for crafting it in the first place.
I’ve found some of the biggest struggles coming from those companies looking to raise money. If they can’t cut through the noise and effectively reach their potential investors, their business can’t survive. One of the most prolific business investors Josh Scheinfeld said to me “It’s hard to hear anything when everyone is screaming into a megaphone.”
I’ve noticed this effect has been exponentially more difficult for my clients in the public company sector. Regulation and government bureaucrat watchdogs attempting to protect the public have muzzled and stifled these emerging growth companies even further.
The reality is, your clients or potential investors are being targeted constantly. Everybody is promising something, selling something, and yelling at them. Everyone is now accessible, and with access comes excess. Your message is simply being drowned out in a sea of information.
So how do you counteract this? I’ve dedicated a substantial amount of time researching and studying this phenomenon, and here are two tactics you must employ if you want your business to be heard.
1. Find A Gatekeeper
You want to have an implied ‘barrier to entry’. In entertainment, it’s why movie stars are more esteemed than TV stars, and TV stars more than internet or YouTube stars. It’s not about talent, content or even popularity, it’s about perception. The perception is that anyone can make a YouTube channel, but it takes hundreds of people and millions of dollars behind you to star in a studio film. The public accepts this structure as their gatekeeper for approval.
In information and technology this is done through an aggregator. And it’s become the way consumers expect someone to sift through and curate information for them. Think about how you’ll go to trip advisor, yelp or google looking for “the best place to…” You could have done the research and looked individually at each option, but now you are almost instinctually looking for someone to aggregate it and qualify it for you.
I recently worked with Channelchek, a company that does this for small and micro-cap public companies. Born out of frustration and necessity from the investment-banking world, Channelchek is becoming the gatekeeper for emerging growth companies. This service wasn’t viable or even needed 10 years ago, but now it’s practically indispensable for these companies. “Today, inventing the better mousetrap is the easy part, connecting with investors that can help you build it is the real challenge” Says Nico Pronk, CEO of Noble Capital Markets. “Investors need a way to help quiet the endless chatter and focus on what’s real.”
If you’re an entrepreneur or a CEO you need to find the aggregators in your category. Who do the consumers or investors trust to curate the information and validate the message? Who is the gatekeeper creating your barrier to entry?
2. No Free Ride
There is a popular misconception that the internet is free advertising and social media is free branding. Just because the platform is free, doesn’t mean your business or brand can take a free ride.
I recently presented to a group of professional speakers at the National Speakers Association about social media and positioning. I asked “Who here is currently spending money on Yellow Page ads?” they giggled and nobody raised a hand. I then asked “Who is currently spending money on social media ads?” Silcence, but still no hands.
25 years ago every speaker in that room and every company I work with would be spending money on a Yellow Page ad. Not to advertise a specific product or service, just to be listed as a viable business in a specific category. Back then, it was the single lane road to customers finding you, and the size of your ad sent a clear message about the size, scope and professionalism of your company. Today, it’s become an information super-highway. And while the platforms have changed, the impression remains. Think of the internet as one big Yellow Page ad. Sorry, but the space you want is not free. Invest in the information about you, not just your product or services. (see my previous article on The Celebrity CEO)
The information age can feel like a lawless marketing free-for-all in a modern version of the Wild West. But make no mistake; your audience is out there, trying to find you. You just need to speak softly and carry the right stick.