WARNING – Huge Marketing Metaphor Ahead.
The Spectroscopy of Content is an attempt to find the connective and underlying structures that all marketed messages share. Whether it’s account based marketing, content marketing, mass market advertising, native, guerrilla, paid, earned, owned, taglines, slogans, calls-to-action; marketing is about humans communicating with other humans.
The Spectroscopy of Content provides an understanding of human behavior, it’s shared triggers and environments, and uses this information, preemptively, to increase the relevancy and effectiveness of the marketing we choose to foist upon the world.
"How far that little candle throws his beams! So shines a good deed in a weary world." -William Shakespeare - The Mechant of Venice
First – let’s cover what spectroscopy is;
Spectroscopy is a scientific measurement technique. It measures light that is emitted, absorbed, or scattered by materials and can be used to study, identify and quantify those materials. One thing that you need to remember is that “light” is a lot more than just the colored visible light that we can see. – NASA
This is interesting for two reasons –
- What we see as plain, white, visible light, actually contains all the colors of the rainbow, plus a collection of wavelengths that we can’t even sense as humans.
- Spectroscopy breaks up a complex, noisy signal, such as light, into discrete, constituent parts, provides a glimpse of once imperceptible structures, and brings meaningful data points out of the chaos.
So far, so good. Now, let’s bring this back to marketing. Below, “Content” refers to any marketed message, in any marketing vertical.
Content starts as this solid concept, a beam of light, ready to illuminate the minds of our target audience. The beam is the message, and the message is the beam. Strong calls to action. Tracking is set up. We’ll know what success means and we’ll be able to point to business goals that Content will help to achieve. We fire the solid beam of light into the blackness of Deep Space/The Internet/America’s Living Room.
Now, let’s briefly return to the science of light.
Light is perceived by it’s reflection off of surfaces, and two different reflections are possible – Diffuse and Specular.
The light rays that allow us to see non-luminous objects such as our hands, the floor and the people around us, are rays that have traveled from a light source and then have reflected off of an object towards our eyes. There are two types of reflection: specular and diffuse. Specular reflection sends discreet beams in specific directions. Diffuse reflection sends many different beams in several directions.
So what about our Content? Once our beam of light is perceived by our audience, will they, via the specular reflection principle, be able to understand specific messages or triggers embedded in the beam? Or will the light spread out into a million different meanings, fade into the background – a diffuse reflection of our loaded beam?
Well, didn’t we think about the audience and the affect our content would have on their Mind Prisms? Did we think to analyze our content’s Impact Spectrum?
We require a few more metaphors.
Just as prisms help to break apart light, the interpretation of your content happens in the audience Mind Prism. The Mind Prism is the only medium through which your lighted message is decoded and understood.
Content is not what you think it is – it’s what your audience thinks it is.
Content is not the beam of light you send, it’s the beam of light that is received. And, further complicating things, each Mind Prism is unique and it’s absorption can change with it’s environment – and no two will absorb information the same way.
So in The Spectroscopy of Content, we’re seeking to consciously pre-fabricate the beam of light, knowing what spectral lines need to be absorbed by the audience, amplifying the strength of those wavelengths, and thoughtfully anticipating the myriad ways our Content may be interpreted, or misinterpreted, by the Mind Prism.
Once the light is considered through the Mind Prism, the Impact Spectrum should be analyzed and considered. To explain this last piece – we return to the light. . .
The spectrum from distant stars contain the signatures of the elements that compose the star. Spectral absorption lines in the wavelength of visible light, correspond with elements, present in the stars chemical makeup. There is a Hydrogen Line, a Sodium Line, Magnesium, etc.
In The Spectroscopy of Content, the “absorption lines” reflect the ideas or concepts that are anticipated to hit the intended Impact Spectrum – and we have several different Spectra of Understanding. Below are three versions I’ve created specifically for this piece – but there is room for thousands more!Are we soliciting buyer behavior, are we making someone mad, are we talking about cultural values? Is this a curveball with a mysterious trajectory, a fast pitch in an elevator, or a beachball in a stadium? Does this message leave enough room for the recipient’s ego? Does the Content talk about personal things, or relevant ideas in society? Will this make them think of Church, School, the bedroom, the barber shop?
Before we launch any Content, we have to ensure that it’s light will reflect into at least one Impact Spectra, if not multiple. And although it is true that each Mind Prismis unique, certain concepts like the ones briefly covered in the above examples, work on more basic levels. Humans are unique, but human behaviors and reactions tend not to be.
In closing – The Spectroscopy of Content aims to understand the ways information impacts people on this basic level, and use this information to fortify and empower the messages we send in the future. Whether we’re analyzing various Mind Prisms, or their associated Impact Spectrum, one this remains true throughout this “new” marketing metaphor. . . Our success depends not on how much we put ourselves into our marketing, but by how strongly our marketing considers our audience.
Please let me know if you have any questions or would like to learn more about The Spectroscopy of Content.