Bits of Marketing Wisdom, Part 1: On Storytelling & Engagement
This is a part 1 of a two-part series that serves as a bit of a followup to the post that @ Phil Friedman and I did recently on Content Curation and Management.
We have slightly differing points of view on this subject. But the thing we both agreed on was that the businesses who wish to use Content Marketing as an effective tool really need to step up their game and stop flooding the Internet with the kind of crap that everybody complains about, hardly anybody reads, but that just keeps on comin’.
1. On Storytelling
How you go about telling your story is pretty much the same as how you go about anything in marketing, because it is marketing.
When people hire me, the first thing I tell them is what we need to do is figure out the company's story. This serves two purposes:
1. It allows me to get a solid perspective on the company, what they do, where they came from, what their goals are and who their audience is, etc.
2. It serves as an anchor for any communications that follow. Because once the original story is done, it's kind of like the preface to a book.
The stories that follow are the chapters.
These 'chapters' are the elements which serve to dimensionalize the company and build the brand.
In addition to being stories about the product or service, they can be stories about projects (cases), stories about satisfied customers (testimonials), stories about the various aspects of the business (nuts and bolts) and they can be stories about what's going on in the industry.
These stories can take any number of forms, depending on the media you choose. They can be: ads or commercials.They can be longer format video, blogs, web site content, panels on a trade show booth… whatever.
The key is that they are all taking their cues from the original company story. And they are being bound together in a continuous and synergistic fashion so that each element reinforces the others and simultaneously builds the brand.
In my own blogging, which is my main storytelling vehicle, I alternate between all of these and a few more. What your story streams should depend on your business, your budget, your audience and the best way to reach them, and most importantly, the brand promise you establish at the outset.
2. On Engagement
Digital marketers, bless their pointed little heads, tend to believe that the concept of storytelling and customer engagement in the social media content management programs they sell is an innovative concept.
They believe this innovation was a direct result of the rise of social media and that social media has changed the way customers engage with the products and services they purchase…yadda yadda.
This is all very noble and high-sounding…it’s also preached as a new mode of marketing by many of these people who, unfortunately, have very little understanding of the history of advertising and marketing before the advent of the Internet some 15 years ago.
These digital marketers labor under the delusion that they have somehow miraculously discovered a new way to make a wheel turn.
This is what happens with people who think that civilization began in around 1998.
Sorry, but it began a lot sooner than that.
Engagement as a concept is probably as old as advertising itself. But most ‘complete’ communications people commonly identify the real beginning of it in about 1959-1960, when advertising transitioned from mainly product stories to stories about people’s interaction with products. Around this same time, the concept of 'Intrigue" was also pioneered.
The most obvious example that comes to my mind is some of the early Volkswagen ads that arguably pioneered the concept of storytelling from the human perspective to reinforce a specific product benefit. As you can see from these sterling examples of storytelling in advertising that, activity began in what many digital marketers see as prehistoric times.
The Tools Have Changed But The Basics Have Not
So if you are someone who feels the need to market your business through a content management program, you might be wise to take a good look at some of the advertising that was done in the sixties by agencies like Ogilvy and Mather and Doyle Dane Bernbach.
You will learn what real storytelling and engagement are all about from the people who actually wrote the book on it.
And if a digital marketer ever tells you to avoid ‘old school’ creative types, because they don’t know anything about how content management and engagement works, ask them if they have ever heard of the people many of us learned from Bill Bernbach, David Ogilvy Julien Koenig, Mary Wells, Leo Burnett? Chances are they will blank out on you.
That will tell you a whole lot about what they really know.
Communication Quality Comes First
Of course, there are many different ways to create engaging content, but what they all have in common is the quality of the writing.
Copywriters who are old enough to have created ads and brochures and TV and radio commercials generally have an excellent handle on how to engage through storytelling.
Because they earned their stripes at a time where that engagement was directly related to sales and a whole lot was on the line with every idea that got published.
If anybody in today's world is telling you that the content management program they are proposing is not directly related to sales, feel free to call bullshit on them.
You will save yourself a lot of grief that way.
As usual, all comments, shares and likes are welcome and appreciated.
If your business has reached the point where talking to a communication professional would be the preferred option to banging your head against the wall or whatever, lets talk.
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