The written word is having a tough time.
It’s not just that literacy rates are surprisingly bad. (One source maintains that half of American adults can’t read an eighth grade-level book.) But even among people who can read, fewer and fewer want to read.
If you’re a passionate reader (as I am), this might bring you to the brink of despair.
I’ve been a writer ever since I was a little kid in great big glasses. That only solidified in the late 1980s, when I got started in what’s now called social media. (Back then it was called “virtual community,” when Stewart Brand and Howard Rheingold were the Darren and Seth of their day.)
The rise of the web brought in a renaissance of text. Billions and billions of lines of text. From bulletin boards and IRC to those first, stunningly hideous static sites, all the way to today’s mainstream explosion of the social web.
Now we’ve got some new tools to play with. It’s actually a lot like 1989 (when I started) all over again. And there’s a real opportunity to benefit by getting comfortable with the new technologies.
Trust me, it’s a lot easier than figuring out enough Unix to get around in a 1980s bulletin board system.
If your idea of web-based audio stops at podcasts or internet radio, you might want to take a second listen.
The beauty of audio is that it’s tremendously portable. Your “readers” can bring you anywhere. To the gym, on a commute, even to Thanksgiving dinner. (OK, we don’t endorse that last one.)
Audio also creates an especially close rapport with your audience. The spoken voice is a wonderfully intimate thing. When I began creating audio content regularly, my interactions with my audience took on a whole new dimension. People felt like they knew me in a way they never had before.
One other thing that took off: my sales conversions. A trustworthy, friendly voice turns out to be a fantastic way to address prospect fears and concerns.
You still need to create valuable, authentic, and remarkable content. It’s just that audio gives you some very powerful new ways to do that.
I’m just getting my feet wet with this one. I’ll admit it, the new Teaching Sells video made me itchy to try it out.
If you’ve been reading me for awhile, you know I’m a sucker for strong, emotion-driving imagery. The idea of combining that with voice and music is irresistible.
And now that I’m taking the tools for a test drive, I’m surprised that the technical part isn’t tricky at all. It’s really about creativity, a strong message, knowing your audience, and having fun.
Full circle to text again
We might want to think twice before we throw text into the trash can.
You know who still adores text? Search engines. I don’t know if search engines will ever be able to parse audio and video content as well as they can text. Having plenty of written material lets the search engines know what you’re about, and that’s still a very helpful thing.
And there’s one other group who loves text: buyers. Experienced marketers know that very often, “buyers are readers.” That’s because buyers are the ones who (because of their own need or your brilliant marketing) are desperate for what you have to offer. For many buyers, it’s text that closes the deal.
And don’t forget that there will always be some who just plain like to read. Audio and video by their nature take time, something in short supply. Whenever I accompany my audio content with a clean, well-optimized transcript, I get effusive thank-yous.
Who creates all of this?
If you’ve been judging multimedia based on half-baked podcasts and unfunny cat videos on YouTube, I can see why you haven’t been interested in jumping on.
But persuasive audio and video are another matter entirely.
We’re in the very early days of smart, sharp, relevant multimedia content made to be consumed via the web. And when you add in interactivity, conversation, and the ability to adapt content to suit different learning styles, you’ve got a revolution in the making.
The multimedia web needs smart, passionate content creators. It needs writers.
We cover the creation of multimedia content extensively in Teaching Sells. In fact, that’s how I got started using these new formats for my own businesses.
We not only teach the technical aspects (thanks to our wonderful partner, Tony Clark) in a step-by-step way that even I can follow, we also show you how to create compelling, high-quality content that can be used in a nearly infinite number of ways.
Whether or not you’re interested in enrolling in Teaching Sells, you’d be smart to sign up for the wealth of free content we’ve created. You’ll learn a lot about the future of online business, you’ll pick up some ideas you can use in your own projects, and the video is just plain cool.
This free content will only be available for about 9 more days, so you’ll want to move quickly to make sure you get your copy.