Commentary

Gaining Exposure By Giving The People What They Want

There is a famous Tinseltown quote often attributed to comedian Red Skeleton about the well-attended 1958 funeral of Harry Cohn, the tyrant president of Columbia Pictures.

Skeleton said "Give the people what they want to see and they'll come out for it."

The sentiment is also an axiom for most businesses. When you provide a quality product or service that people truly want, and offer it at the right price, success is a much easier fish to catch. The last pieces of the success puzzle, of course, are that people need to be aware of the product and have warm fuzzy feelings about it.

Unfortunately, when it comes to promoting one's products, services or brand, Skeleton's quote is too often forgotten. Marketers tend to play a media game of made-you-look by placing ads in front of, next to, on top of, and behind the content that users actually want to see.

If only there were a way to get users to willingly be exposed to a brand en masse.

Well, one of the great things about the Internet is that it provides a great way to target pockets of users by interest. Portals, niche publishers and community sites attract and organically sort audiences into similar-minded groups, and technologies that help users share information make it possible to grow communities around each piece of relevant content.

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The opportunity that exists for advertisers is that, rather than push 30-seconds of hard sell messaging to an audience who may not be open to it, they can now offer engaging, interesting, entertaining and relevant content that users will return to again and again.

Auto-makers can sponsor a 3- to 5-minute series about how to maintain the health of a car or a scripted comedy about a zany group of friends who decide to drive around the world in 80 days. Hotel chains can produce shows about the off-the-beaten-path restaurants and hot spots in the cities they service. Tool and appliance makers can offer video craft workshops or integrate their products into relevant programs. Financial services can sponsor thought-leader interview series about tried-and-true methods to make your small business grow, and lifestyle brands can entertain their audiences by sponsoring events that feature talent geared toward the interests of their target markets.

Best of all, it's a win-win-win scenario.

Advertisers get exposure in front of their audiences and raise goodwill by giving something of value to them. Audiences get relevant entertainment without being force fed a commercial, and publishers increase the stickiness of their site when they supply their users with consistently great content.

So as Red Skeleton was saying, if you give the people what they want, (relevant and interesting video content... or a dead studio executive) they will gather to view it, which for a brand who sponsors or integrates into that show, means capturing the eyeballs of an engaged audience.

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