Marketing Should Be Signal Not Noise
by Adam Torkildson | February 1, 2019
In 2002 a Korean doctor named Paek-Jae-Cho we are all familiar with: information pollution.
We are faced with a constant influx of information from social media, rapid news cycles, and bombardment of commercial materials. The proliferation of information in the internet era has led to many great innovations, but it also makes it hard to decipher what is worthwhile.
The problem has gotten so great that people are detoxing from social media, putting away cell phones, and turning off WiFi for a moment of respite.
With exponentially more information, any marketing opportunity should be signal not noise.
This signal versus noise concept references a scientific and engineering principle comparing the level of desired signal to the level of background noise.
To have the best results with marketing, it should all be signal so that you build trust and develop brand recognition as a go-to figure in a certain industry.
Who Are You Speaking To?
One of the main reasons it’s optimal to focus on maintaining high-quality, well researched marketing material is because of the type of people that are attracted to your message.
In this , Gary Vaynerchuk identifies one of the biggest problems with low-grade information. He says “You’re tricking losers. You’re losing too much… with the A players of the universe.” With poor quality “noise” you may get conversions to leads or sales, but it isn’t going to be the people who matter.
Within the niche of businesses that I work with, this is even more important. I help create brands who want their customers to trust that the products they are selling are trustworthy and scientifically backed in some way. Most of these business owners want high brow, scientific content, which appeals to the thought leaders of the world.
A perfect example of this is the . The mere mention of a product or service by Tim Ferriss can drastically increase sales of a product. The and had ⅗ of their biggest sales days from that sponsorship alone.
The point is, if you create a product or service and market it in a way that A-list influencers can get behind, it’s worth more to a business than a slightly higher conversion rate with spammy tactics.
Finally, marketing material (ostensibly to create sales) can actually build trust and generate loyalty with readers that benefits in the long term far more than short-term focused slimy marketing ad-copy.
Exercises to Increase Signal vs Noise
Now you know to stop polluting social media, email inboxes, and Google search results with poorly researched material. The next step is to determine whether you are already contributing to the noise and how to stop.
#1. Would A-list person click on this?
The easiest exercise as per the above example is to simply go through marketing material and identify whether an A-lister in your industry would click each step of the way. Is the Facebook ad compelling enough to garner a click from that person? How about the article headline? The whole article?
It doesn’t work if you have a good blog post or written piece of content and then a terrible Facebook advertisement.
#2. Why are you publishing content?
Some people producing content for marketing purposes are doing so for the wrong reasons. Sometimes fear of missing out leads to a compulsion to create content. Sometimes they’re beholden to a schedule to publish on a regular frequency.
These are not reasons to publish content. No matter what you choose to create, it should be done with the intention of answering questions with valuable, insightful information, that cannot be found anywhere else.
For example, a personal hobby of mine is creating community and in particular cacao ceremonies. I wrote an extensive piece over 2,000 words on that included every single step and audio for people who wanted to organize one for themselves. This brings me to the final point.
#3. Do you wish this content existed before you created it?
The cacao ceremony piece I mentioned above was something I genuinely wanted. That guide is a step by step process that I wish I had.
Are you creating content that is so valuable you wish it existed beforehand? In some industries, I know this is challenging. If the answer is “no”, don’t create the content.
Revamping Content Marketing Systems
Don’t despair if your content marketing systems are creating more noise than signal. If you go through some of the exercises and find that to be true, it is relatively simple to fix. To create more signal you’ll most likely need to spend some time, energy, and money, but it is better to produce one highly valuable piece of content per month than do four poor quality pieces per week. Whatever you decide to do, consider the health of your, my, and every other internet-goers brain. We simply cannot take anymore information pollution.
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