Television Content and the Call to (In)Action

How can television still be relevant after all this time? Why doesn’t it act like marketing content?

By some harmonic convergence, several instances of television have swam past my eyes in recent hours:

  • A webinar featuring über-thinker Seth Godin, in which he described dozens of ways of coming up with new ideas and pointed out that “Ideas don’t come from television.”
  • Results of the latest poll from Harris Interactive, answering the timeless question, “Who is your favorite television personality?”
  • This post by Louise Julig at Thoughts Happen, about a Wall Street Journal article on Chinese mothers (“Tiger Moms”) who raise overachieving children by, among other things, prohibiting them from watching television.
  • My own kids, returning from school, tumbling onto the couch, grabbing the remote control and channel-surfing their afternoon away.

I can’t help thinking that television is indeed content, but why is it so different from marketing content?

Television content – Why is it different?

I can’t stand regular television programming, because I always feel so unmotivated at the end of a half-hour or one-hour program. Still, I shouldn’t begrudge the medium its place at The Content Buffet merely because it doesn’t appeal to me.

After 60 years, television still serves only two purposes:

  1. It’s a vehicle for advertising.
  2. It stimulates demand for more of itself.

What do you want to do after an hour of David Letterman or “House” or the latest flavor of “Law and Order”? Do you feel like writing a letter or building a Website or starting a company? Probably not. You probably feel like seeing what’s on next.

You can’t do that in marketing content. You have to nudge your reader or viewer to the next thing.

And that’s the big difference from television: the call to action.

Remember that for your next content marketing piece, because unless you’re driving your audience toward a call to action, you may as well just hand them the remote.

photo credit: rockcreek


Author: John White

John White of venTAJA Marketing is a content marketing writer for technology companies. He posts about technology writing from the perspective of the marketing manager. It’s a dirty job, but somebody has to do it. Download his eBook, “10 Questions to Ask When Hiring Your Content Marketing Writer.”