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WHY Your Storytelling Isn’t Working

Poodle Mafia Marketing Branding PR for Startups Movements and Personalities

Do you know why people respond (or don’t respond) to you brand storytelling?

The answer doesn’t lie in your typeface, your graphic design or even your social networks.
The answers lies in your strategy and customer clarity.

Let me put it another way: do you know what motivations your customers respond to most powerfully?

Several years ago, I launched a marketing incubator designed to help marketers connect the dots between personality types and motivations. What I learned when I did that was few marketers understood how to trigger basic motivations and even those who did, didn’t really understand why they worked. These were great and successful marketers who were committed to becoming even better. These weren’t lazy marketers, these were great people, good at what they do.

Before I go on, let me explain something: I did not make up these motivations. I am not even the first to write about them. They are ancient and hard-wired into the human experience, in fact, these motivations reside in the largest part of our brain, what I call “the other 90%.” Simply put, these motivations are not some flash-in-the-pan-do-whats-trendy-now strategy, these are strategies which trigger reactions from the oldest part of our brain.  Over the last few years, more and more has been understood about these motivations. But one thing is clear: despite the fact that these motivations developed in the earliest days of humanity’s survival of the fittest experiences, these motivations are very much alive and well today. What triggers them in the modern world is just different than what triggered them in our earliest evolutionary days.

So over the next weeks, I’m going to write a series about the seven Captivation Motivations all marketers should know. But not just marketers, product development, developers and anyone else who’s trying to trigger an immediate and memorable reaction.

The first Captivation Motivation I’m going to cover is so over-discussed and yet misunderstood, I wanted to get it out of the way: Storytelling

It’s important to understand WHY storytelling works and as importantly, what stories trigger us to buy.

If you take nothing else away from this blog post, understand this:

People buy for two reasons: it either reinforces how they see themselves or it reinforces how they want to be seen. (Tweet This)

In essence, every purchase we make is part of our story and we know this, deep, deep down.

What stories do we like to listen to?
Stories about us.
Stories that make us feel smarter, better, part of something.
Stories that reinforce how we see ourselves or reinforce how we want to be seen.

Why is this? It’s because the biggest part of our brain is focused on, you guessed it, us.
This is why brand stories have to be very carefully crafted.
As marketers, we want to tell the brand story, but the reader wants to read a story about them.
This disconnect is HUGE.
And yet, we see excellent examples of great brand story telling all the time. Simplistic and elegant and purely captivating.
One of my favorite examples is Coca-Cola. They kicked off their brand story telling years ago with “I’d like to teach the world to sing…” So celebrated and so ingrained in our culture, that it was the final episode of Mad Men and suggested as the career pinnacle of outrageously creative Don Draper.
Coca-Cola continues to tell it’s story through it’s consumers. Think about the soda bottles wrapped in names and now adjectives like “VIP” “Latino” “Super Star.” Every single on of these is designed to tap into how we see ourselves or how we WANT to see ourselves. You can even buy your own personalized bottle. When this first released and still today, it created a ton of user generated content on social. People loved taking pictures of themselves with bottles that told their story. Reinforced their place in the world.
You never once see Coca-Cola telling some long drawn out boring-as-all-hell story about what goes INTO the bottle, or who works in marketing at Coca-Cola, no. The story is always about the consumer and the story or movement they want to create. There is connection, not disconnect. You are Coca-Cola and Coca-Cola is you.
The reason Coca-Cola’s brand value is somewhere in the neighborhood of 45% of the company’s value is because the brand “gets”  the consumer, not the other way around. (Tweet This)
Apple is another great brand, although I personally feel they’ve lost their brand-way a bit. Still, the company is one of the most valuable brands in the world, regularly commanding a premium for technology that has been commoditized. Why? Because the brand had complete and total clarity from beginning. It didn’t make computers, it designed products to enhance our lives. They key word was design. Elegance, simplicity, easy integration into our lives. If Apple hadn’t insisted on these brand traits, it would just be another computer and laptop company. But again, these brand traits, they were customer-focused. They weren’t about Apple, they were about the user. And Apple has some crazy brand advocates who feel like owning Apple helps define who they are. Owning Apple helps them tell the world who they are. That is the pinnacle of advocacy and brand storytelling.

So when you start to integrate story telling into your digital brand strategy, ask yourself three questions:

Who is the story REALLY about? (hint: be honest with yourself here)
How does it reinforce my customer’s image of themselves or the way they want the world to see them?
What emotion will they feel after finishing the story?

 

 

What IS Digital Marketing Strategy?

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Why do you need a digital strategy and what is it?

Since digital and social media are so accessible, it’s easy to think the results are just as accessible.
But the truth is, simply BEING on social media isn’t a strategy any more (if it ever was enough).
The digital world has brought us many, many advances, but it’s also brought a much more distracted and diluted market place.

The average person is exposed to over 5,000 messages a day.

Perhaps even more, especially if they are heavy social media users.
We used to tell brands that every person needed exposure to a message 7 times before it sunk in.
With today’s clutter and fast-paced media world, I put that number at closer to 12 today.

But having a digital marketing strategy saves you time and money and can even possibly reduce the number of exposures required.

A lot of people are reluctant to spend the time on a digital strategy thinking that the digital world is so fast moving that the minute you settle on a strategy, things will change.
Actually, it’s the opposite, the more thought out your marketing strategy, the more you’ll be able to roll with the punches.
Strategy allows you to be more fluid, not less.
And even if you DO change your strategy, at least you’ll do so with intent.

So what IS a digital strategy?
A good digital marketing strategy answers ALL you’re “Why’s”
If you can’t defend a piece of content, a post or an answer of how that benefits your company and it’s customers, then you don’t have a strategy.

A good digital strategy has three components:

Stellar Digital Audience Identification
Start with the customer. Always.
Your digital audience may be a sub-segment of your larger audience or it may be your entire audience. It doesn’t matter, really.
What’s most important is that your extremely clear on your audience’s pain points, interests and emotional triggers
If you’re clear on who you’re speak too, everything in your digital strategy will improve.
This will require some research, because no matter what you THINK you know about you’re customers, if you do some research on them, you’ll learn something about what resonates, what’s memorable and what matters to them.
The customer research will help you stay on message and consistent regardless of platform choices. You’ll know you’re on the right track because you have the research to back it up.

Product and Service Voice Clarity

How will you communicate with your community in the digital space?
Sometimes, the tone of voice in digital is different from the tone of voice in other mediums.
In fact, most of the time it is.
Once you know your audience, you can start to blend in their preferences with how they like to be communicated WITH along side the brand consistency you’re trying to accomplish. Voice consistency takes time and intention to develop and implement, but once you do it, you’ll be well on your way to executing a great digital strategy.

Digital Distinguishers

Chances are, you have some competition in the digital world.
Take a careful look at your competitors. What’s missing?
What can you do better than anyone else?
This takes brutal honesty, because you’ve got to be incredibly clear on who you are, who you want to be and how that meshes with how your community sees you and what you’re willing to do or not do.
The digital user is quick to point out the inauthentic, so be honest with yourself here, so you can be honest with your customers.
Your digital distinguishers should include your product and service differentiation while integrating with what makes your customers unique.
This is the place where it all comes together.

Once you’ve put all these pieces in place, a real digital marketing strategy can start to emerge.
Now you can start to identify content types, frequency, messaging and platforms that support your strategy.

With the inundation of messages today, the ONLY way to be in the digital space is to do so with a strategy, otherwise, you’re actually doing damage to your brand and you’re seriously missing out on opportunity, relationships and dollars.

Social Media Marketing or Advertising? What’s Better For Your Budget?

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Bet your starting to think about next year’s social media marketing plan. And as importantly, where will social media marketing fall into the mix? Will there be more? Less? The latest Advertising Trust report from Neilsen may offer some insights to help you in your planning process.

One of the strongest reasons to increase your social media is the the number one source of consumer trust and action isRecommendations from people I know”.  Trust and action are often hand in hand, and we can’t discount the value of trust, but its also hard to measure. However, what creates trust and what creates action can be different. For example, consumers report that humorous ads resonate most with them. We know that humor is a powerful tool, especially in social media. It might be more powerful than cats, dare I say (GASP). However, humor is rarely what makes people take ACTION.

The action taking piece is the one I’m always most interested in looking at more closely. And its really no surprise that word of mouth leads the pack. Ads on social networks have a lower trust score than they do action score. That’s actually true for several advertising types. With respect to social media, there are two key take aways:
1)  Use social to build trust and be very aware of what motivations exist for taking action.
2) The power of your tribe: when they share what you’ve got, its a more credible source. So be very aware of what and why people share on social. Tribes deeply impact our actions.

Now, the challenge with a report like this is that these results are all self-reported. The challenge with self-reporting is that people don’t always really know why they do what they do. I know, YOU always know why you do what you do. Or do you? Your motivations may not always be clear even to you. That’s why I started Captivation Motivation Training. 

Just remember, what type of message you use impacts trust and action. Decide what you’re trying to establish in every single post. Be purposeful in your social media practice and you’ll find that you can actually be more human.

 

 

 

PS: If you’d like to download the Neilsen Report for yourself: click here

This post originally appeared on Akamai Marketing