Impact or Reach: What Are You Seeking?
Water is a powerful force. Over time, a stream of water can carve a canyon through solid rock. A single drip from a leaky faucet can cost a homeowner hundreds of dollars in water bills.
Water will make an impact.
Words and Stories Can Impact
Whether you're a marketer, a social change agent, a rock band or a parent, you have a message you want to get in front of an audience.
Most of us want our audience to do something in response to the message.
We really want impact, more than reach.
In my own experience, though, most decision-makers start by focusing on reach.
They ask questions like what's the audience size, how many fans and followers on each social media channel, how many downloads…..as if the answers to those questions actually matter.
Few of us have both the reach AND impact of leaders like Richard Branson.
Anyone with enough money can buy reach.
Even in today's fractured media environment, if you have the financial resources you can buy reach in the form of traditional and “native” advertising. You can hire a major agency to develop and execute a promotional juggernaut to get media placements on television talk shows and cable news.
A savvy and well-financed promotional campaign can also help you conquer the blogosphere and social media channels. You can even buy social media followers.
But none of that chatter and noise has staying power.
Just because your message hits a channel with your large audience doesn't mean the audience hears it or pays attention. And that's not all…..
Even if your message momentarily resonates with the purchased audience, the effect will be ephemeral. When is the last time you intentionally set out to listen to a song by Nickleback or Creed?
We’re constantly bombarded with noise. We understand how hard it is to get attention.
In the marketing space, the communication objective is to find a way to get the attention of a desired audience. For most organizations, the objective is to get a message in front of the largest possible audience, as if the law of averages would somehow boost relevancy and attention.
I think that’s the wrong approach. I think the better way is to focus on impact and identify a small number of influencers who can help to share the message.
Floods begin with raindrops, avalanches start with snowflakes
That’s how Billy Ivey of BIG Communications made a splash through his #NapkinNotes. He shared humorous lunch bag notes to his kids that resonated with an audience of parents and soon-to-be-parents who then responded and shared with his own community.
Then Jon Acuff expanded the reach. Acuff is someone you might describe as an influencer among Christian parents with a sense of humor.
#NapkinNotes now has reach, but the initial focus was on impact. A dad writing notes to his kids.
I suspect Ivey’s kids will remember those notes long after Ivey’s career in marketing is history.
For brands, the lesson is clear:
Focus on impact and you’ll probably get the reach you desire.
Focus on reach and you’ll be chasing something that lies at the end of the ephemeral rainbow.
Impact, not reach.