People often come to me in a panic, saying, “The internet is changing too fast and I can’t keep up with social media! First, there was email and blogging. Then, social media went crazy with new platforms and new features seemingly every day! Now, there are podcasts and live streams. It’s just too much. What should I do?”

My answer is always the same, “Niche, Please!” 

For some reason, people think that the nuances presented by advertising in the Technological Age are unprecedented. That’s simply not true.

Whether you are standing on a soap box in Time Square, or uploading a new video to TikTok from your phone, the goal is the same: attention.

You can’t sell a product, or get them to share your TikTok videos, if you don’t get their attention first. And until Virtual Reality adds a taste feature, there are only four ways to get your audience’s attention, regardless of future technological changes and upstate (copied) features on Instagram:

  1. Reading
  2. Listening
  3. Watching
  4. Looking

People can read, listen, watch, or look at your content. 

Don’t let technology spook you. As someone who has helped hundreds of small business owners adapt their messaging over the years, I’m happy to share my knowledge on how to advertise with the same four methods in a techno-friendly manner. With that knowledge in-hand, you’ll never panic or feel overwhelmed by new technology again.

The Written Word (Reading)

Great news! The written word is a simple and inexpensive way to get your message to your target audience. You can still start a blog through a free service like Blogger or WordPress. If you like to write, this is a no-brainer. Other options include short-form content like tweets and copywriting or long-form posts on social media and in articles.

Perhaps the biggest benefit of people reading your content is that you usually have their undivided attention. If they are reading your longform content, they are likely not multitasking. Getting this type of attention isn’t easy, but it’s highly valuable when you do.

A potential downside of asking people to read your content is that some people hate reading. Also, some people have disabilities like dyslexia, which could virtually eliminate them from reading your advertising.  

Even for platforms like YouTube, writing matters. Understanding how to write an engaging video title and description will help improve other writing skills like email subject lines or Facebook copy. 

Writing is right for a lot of people, but for those who don’t have the required attention span to read a lot of content, something less time-consuming is a good idea. In that case, audio could be the perfect solution.

Audio (Listening)

Audio content often attaches itself to another activity. People listen to podcasts and audiobooks while going to the gym, walking the dog, riding the subway, etc.

Some people put the television on as background noise while they clean the house or do some other activity. The newer generations do this with live streaming. They’ll put it on just to feel like they’re hanging out with someone while they do other things. 

Although you don’t have the full attention of your audience with live streaming or podcasts in this way, you can still reach a lot of people. 

Podcasting especially is a great solution for small business owners who aren’t comfortable with video. They can establish an emotional connection with their consumers without putting themselves in a position where they may not excel.

If, however, you’re a small business owner who doesn’t mind getting in front of the camera, audio won’t be as impactful as getting people to watch your content.  

Video (Watching)

The Internet of Things (IoT) has created a world where most of us have immediate access to video messaging within our pockets. YouTube, Vimeo, Facebook Live, Snapchat, TikTok, and more are all viable options to engage with your audience at just about any time of day or night. 

Video certainly seems like the most powerful of all media platforms, but that’s why you should approach it with caution as well. Nothing lasts forever and the laws of supply and demand always win. So, if the market gets flooded with video content for every business in the global marketplace, it’s going to become difficult to get enough people to watch your video content. 

Another downside is that video isn’t as cheap or easy to implement as simply writing a blog and hitting “post.” There’s a bit steeper of a learning curve to know how to properly record a polished video message for your audience. 

Still, people watching your content is perhaps the most valuable way to connect with your audience as long as you’re ready, willing, and able to get in front of a camera and expose a little of your personality. If not, images can be a solid option to get people’s attention.  

Images (Looking)

You glance down at your watch, and it’s 7:42 a.m. You’ve had a good workout. You sit down on a gym bench to take a two-minute break before heading out. You “like” a few photos on Instagram. Then you grab your bag, slam your locker door shut, and head for your car. You wave to the gym staff on your way out, and a poster catches your eye; it sports one of your favorite celebrities advertising a new protein shake.

As you drive to the grocery store to grab a few things, you notice the billboard of a local lawyer advertising their services. You stop at the store and a fitness magazine steals your attention, so you toss it into your basket.

On your way to the checkout counter, you see an endcap with that same protein shake you saw advertised back at the gym, and you grab one before checking out, because it now feels familiar.

That’s the power of images. They create familiarity.

People take in images everywhere—billboards, posters, instagram, etc. They grab attention quicker than any other form of media. Getting people to look at your content is effective, even for your customers who have zero attention span. 

The negative aspect of images is that they may not stick around. Their effectiveness can leave someone’s thoughts just as quickly as they entered them. 

Have Your Cake And Eat It too

When you break down content creation into these four categories, the process becomes much less overwhelming, as you realize all you need to do is take whatever messaging you’re already sending and translate it to the new medium. Start by asking yourself, “What makes the most sense for my industry.”

Sure, a learning curve exists when becoming familiar with any new platform, but hey, you’re a businessperson. You have an amazing skill set already, so learning the ins and outs of YouTube, podcasting, TikTok, or whatever’s next is a piece of cake—a deliciously rich, attention-grabbing, and profitable cake. The problem only comes when you try and do too much at once without a clear goal in mind.

When you feel overwhelmed, just remember to niche, please! Narrow your focus and find a niche you can dominate because it plays to your natural strengths.

For more advice on the four methods of getting attention to your business, you can find Niche, Please! on Amazon.

Skyler Irvine is the founder and CEO of RenzlerMedia, a digital production company that helps entrepreneurs and small businesses tell their unique stories and support their brand with technology and social media. He believes everyone has their own path to success, one based on distinctive ideas and interests that separate every good entrepreneur from their competition. According to Skyler, pursuing our interests allows us to turn our ideas into money and erase the line between work and play. Skyler graduated from the University of California, Santa Barbara with a degree in global studies and international relations. He lives in Phoenix, Arizona with his wife and three kids.