Chasing a Digital Unicorn

The siren call of shiny, bright technology lures many with its false promises. “Let me woo you and dazzle you and inundate you with meaningless data,” it sings to the unwary.  In the end, hopes and budgets are dashed upon the rocks of disappointment.  Humans have been falling for this siren call since Odyessus sailed the Aegean. Today, brands are chasing a digital unicorn promising immediate ROI and an audience desperate to hear their pitch. So brands turn to technology instead of relying on the proven worth of content that actually serves the needs of your audience.

All that Glitters….

Chasing a digital unicorn can be tempting. Popular culture, medieval history, and tweens have lavished love on the O.G. beast. Millennials brought glitter and rainbows to the critter even as they taught us what constitutes a unicorn in potential mates. Mythology reminded us of the unicorn’s magical powers. Who doesn’t crave a magical fix when a pandemic is disrupting our lives? So it’s understandable that brands, when facing the seismic shift of COVID-19 disruptions, seek out a shiny, glittery unicorn to solve their business challenges.

But. There. Are. No. Unicorns. There are no quick fixes.

The Hare Lost

In the past year, marketers have witnessed a watershed moment in content marketing. Our audience has made a significant shift from traditional to digital reliance. When brick-and-mortar establishments had to close, consumers picked up their smartphones and laptops and started shopping, dining, and ordering everything from groceries to cars online.

Savvy businesses responded. We saw restaurant owners offer take out options instead of relying on dining onsite. Brands that understood e-retail and had the right tools in place, such as Amazon and Walmart, saw their sales soar. Brands that relied on mall and storefront foot traffic, such as J. Crew and Brooks Brothers,  are declaring bankruptcy. Local shops without a digital presence and no foot traffic are on life-support.

The difference-maker has been the digital experience. Every brand, from Fortune 500 companies to the local mom-and-pop shops, rediscovered just how difficult it can be to survive in a world where handshakes and smiles are at a premium. Those who’ve put off investing in a viable digital presence that focuses on the needs of their audience are in peril. Without the right digital content, whether it’s a seamless shopping experience, a virtual tour, or another form of content that is available 24/7, your audience is going elsewhere.

Hard Lessons Learned

The phrase, “Content is King,” has been the mantra since the digital revolution began. But some brands have only been paying lip service to that mantra. They’ve assumed they didn’t have to listen to their audience. They continued self-focused strategies touting what they considered important. But COVID-19 has delivered a wake-up call. No matter what industry you’re in, from senior living to selling shirts, higher ed to local eateries, your audience is ahead of you. If you’re not meeting them at every point in their decision journey, if you’re not providing them with a seamless digital experience, if you’re operating as though it were 1999: Your target audience has no time and no patience for you.

For those who are at the panic-driven action stage, the promise of a unicorn to shore up their losses may prove irresistible. We understand the allure of the easy solution. But we also know there simply isn’t a miracle waiting in the wings to save you.

Engaging, compelling content isn’t a quick and easy fix. Learning and understanding what drives your audience to take action, what content they prefer, and what they’re searching for takes time. It requires meaningful data, high-quality analysis of the data, A-B testing, and an investment of time and effort.

If you’re tired of chasing digital unicorns and coming up empty, isn’t it time you reconsidered your approach? Let’s talk about how to do just that.

Kathleen Gossman – Senior Account Manager


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