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Storytelling is one of the first ways modern human beings passed down knowledge from generation to generation, and also disseminated knowledge to those beyond their immediate family and clan.
Millennia later, storytelling remains a powerful medium that grabs and holds people’s attention and effectively transmits information. Not surprisingly, then, it can be a powerful medium for marketers.
In this video, we sat down with author, marketer, storyteller, industry analyst, and corporate trainer Steve Shepard to discuss elements of great storytelling.
One of the better experts on storytelling. Great interview!
See on www.marketingprofs.com
We live in a culture saturated with stories. From commercials lasting a few seconds, to TV shows lasting a few seasons, we are inundated with more tales every day than any other generation in history.
We can’t seem to get enough stories. We can’t seem to tell enough.
And brands are no exception.
Many brands want to have their stories told. Yet ironically, they (and their marketing teams) often aren’t quite sure what a story is. Marketing wisdom may extol the virtues of storytelling as a technique for engaging audience emotion, but much less is said about what elements make up a story. Or even more crucial, how marketers can use those elements to craft a compelling brand story.
This is well said!
See on journeycraft.tv
When MIDAZ* was first introduced, composers were heralding it as the next best thing since the piano. Sales had surpassed all expectations. MIDAZ,* was introduced via a commercial that ran during the Grammy Awards. Advertising themed “Introducing the key of Gee!,” showed how MIDAZ’ was completely eliminating the need for computer-based navigational commands. With MIDAZ, composers no longer needed a mouse or a computer keyboard. Navigational commands could be directed more immediately by merely touching any of 8 piano keys. For anyone unfamiliar with computer-based music composition this may not seem like a very important breakthrough. But for composers, it meant spending less time going back and forth between the computer and piano keyboards to edit, record or playback their songs.
Then, almost like someone flipped a switch, the parade of inbound orders were cut in half when a new competitor, VoiceKontrol,* introduced software that performed similar functions, but through voice commands. MIDAZ quickly reacted with advertising that explained how much easier their software was to set up and learn. The company aggressively promoted the fact that, unlike competitive offerings, no microphone was needed and that keyboard touch commands were far more accurate than their less reliable voice-command counterparts. MIDAZ also blitzed their trade with ads and merchandising efforts featuring explanations of how easy the program was to use. They began a 30-day trial program and started discounting their price. But despite superior performance characteristics, month to month sales substantially slowed. Add to this, margins began to shrink.
A year passed. Sales and profits were now flat. The president turned to a branding expert for advice. Upon evaluating the situation, the expert reminded the president of Einsten’s theory of insanity, the one about continuing to do the same thing despite getting the same results.
“But we HAVE changed our approach,” the President complained.
“Actually, you haven’t,” the consultant replied. “You still have your head in your ads.”
Taken aback, the president exclaimed, “Say again?!”
The consultant then explained that MIDAZ was no longer new and different, thanks to a competitor who was offering an acceptable substitute.
“In the beginning, all you had to do was talk about your advantage and the benefit of ease,” the consultant explained. ”But now, you no longer own ease, and you are being forced to share it. Regardless of whether your benefit is stronger than competition, the rules of the game have changed. Welcome to the next stage of your brand’s life cycle.”
“But how do we fix it?”, management asked.
“First, don’t feel lonely,” the consultant said assuringly. ”This is common for brands that have reached maturity.”
“Your brand is entrenched. It is no longer a shiny new object. ”
“You mean old,” the president lamented.
“Perhaps, but it certainly isn’t ready for the dust-heap. In order to regain some lost vitality, your whole approach to marketing must change. You need to stop searching for that silver bullet logic that is going to prove once and for all that your product is superior to VoiceKontrol. ”
“But it is!” the president exclaimed.
“Assuming it is, at this stage the word is out about what your product does and how well it performs. Have you checked out forum reviews on the Internet lately?”
The president signaled the consultant to keep talking.
“Now that your sales have lost the pep they once had, consumers will respond more to you if they can identify with what MIDAZ stands for, it’s reason for existence. You need to help them experience the link between who “MIDAZ” is and what it does.
“I don’t get it,” the president scowled. ”What do you mean by ‘Who?’ MIDAZ is a product, not a person.”
“Actually, its neither. It’s a brand. Currently one that acts more like a product, but should start acting more like a person, the expert retorted. ”Let me do some digging and I’ll get back to you with a better explanation of what I mean.”
One month later, the expert returned with results of an investigation he conducted. He started by reminding the president that many of his software engineers are musicians themselves. ”The bad news for you is that many would rather have careers writing music than designing software,” he said. “However, the good news, is that they are absolutely, completely, body-and-soul immersed in the world of music creation. They know first hand what a struggling musician must deal with in order to get noticed, let alone gain fame.”
“So?” I could have told you that,” the President said.
“Fact is, you don’t need to tell me. You need to tell your prospects and customers. You need to tell them that you know what it’s like to be who they are, what they believe in, and what they dream about.
Let VoiceKontrol continue hitting prospects over the head with technical facts that anyone can readily discover on their own. Let them keep going for the head while you go for the heart. Put the emphasis on the meaning of MIDAZ beyond its functional product differences. Make the MIDAZ brand the hero of your story. Don’t stop talking about how “MIDAZ” works. But make product function and benefits the supporting characters of your brand’s story. Promote the MIDAZ cause and show that it is similar to the cause of people you’re selling to. Become the music writer’s advocate.
The expert went on to explain that instead of bravado claims about product superiority, “put your energies into finding ways to convince prospects that what you believe is real and authentic. Provide social media content that can help musicians achieve their goals. Conduct music writing contests. Celebrate the works of up-and-coming music writers. Once you’ve landed on who MIDAZ is and why it exists, ideas on how to make the MIDAZ brand story come to life find themselves, naturally.
With that, MIDAZ replaced their claim-based theme with a new advertising mantra, “Playing Should Be Easy Work,” sales and profit charts again began pointing in a northerly direction.
*No brands were hurt during the writing of this article. Any resemblance to real brands, living, dead or maturing is purely coincidental. “
What’s all the buzz among marketers about storytelling? Okay. Sell with stories. I get it. They work better than explicit hit-them-over-the-head-and-kick-them-in-the-behind-fact-based-and-really-boring-selling messages.
There is a very big difference between storytelling and StoryBranding. Not knowing the difference can make one smart enough to be dangerous.
See on www.storyati.com
There’s a great deal of buzz about storytelling as a branding tool. Makes sense. They work better than explicit kick-them-in-the-head, fact-based-selling messages. Stories don’t push influence the way expository messages do. They pull it, by letting audiences decide the meaning for themselves. And they provide engagement,to boot. We especially saw this during the Super Bowl in some of the most liked Super Bowl commercials i.e Dodge Ram’s farmer spot and Budweiser’s story about the Clydesdales.
But story-based messaging has been around for a while. Apple’s iconic 1984 commercial and some of the first work for Nike’s “Just Do It” campaign relied on this technique. But that’s the point. Storytelling is a creative technique. Powerful yes. But not everyone has the luxury of being able to create a wall-to-wall branding spot, let alone one that runs for 2-minutes. Some brands don’t even have the ability to advertise on TV.
Whether storytelling is relied upon tactically or not, something more fundamental has to take place before storytelling or any other creative approach is deployed. That’s where StoryBranding comes in. StoryBranding is a planning tool that helps brand marketers decide on the meaning that any brand message will convey. It draws on many of the same principles of storytelling, but it is, indeed, different.
A reliance on StoryBranding, forces brand management to think like an author who needs to share an important cause or belief with the world. StoryBranding is about associating a given brand with a welcomed worldview that can empower its audience. It’s expressed in theme lines like “Think Different,” “Never Stop Exploring,” or “Life Should be Delicious.” Thinking has to go beyond theme lines however. Once the brand puts it stake in the ground to describe its bigger reason for existence, proof must manifest itself through all customer touch points. I
StoryBranding, especially for mature brands.
In sum, storytelling largely concentrates on the creation of plot, or how the story is told, StoryBranding is more focused on the development of theme or what the brand is about. Sam Sinek, a marketing scholar who teaches at Columbia University and author of the best selling “Start with Why” alludes to some of the same ideas behind StoryBranding. He claims that people buy because of who the brand and not because of what the brand does. Frankly, I think what he has to say is critically important but, if misinterpreted, can lead marketers to completely discount the importance of the facts surrounding a brand. Especially for new products that offer discernible differences, the “why” is not yet as important as the functional “what.” On the other hand, and for mature brands, the “why,” or what we refer to as the brand story’s theme, takes more of a front seat. Selling the “why” when your brand is still new is like buying life insurance when you’re in your twenties. It’s important but not yet critical. StoryBranding reaches critical importance as the brand becomes older and more established.
Especially before approaching maturity, If it hasn’t already, a brand must systematically and thoroughly excavate it’s meaning or the theme of its story. By this time, the brand has relied more on its plot or what it does and not on why it does it. A story theme does exist but it has been lying in the background waiting to do some heavy lifting. In some cases, the brand’s purpose is ill-defined, or amorphous. In most cases that I’ve seen, it’s made up of a long lists of brand values too complex for consumers to fully grasp. To tap into it’s full potential, whether you refer to it as the “why” behind the brand, or the brand’s story theme, it must be clearly and simply defined. StoryBranding is an exercise in sacrifice.
Definition of a brand’s theme starts with uncovering stories consumers have in their heads about the brand. What is the brand’s meaning? Why do consumers think it exists beyond its profit motive? What beliefs and values does the brand espouse or reinforce? What are the values opposite to what would normally be associated with the brand? What does using the brand say to others about the kind of person that uses the it? These are all important questions to ask. But they should not be where the investigation starts and stops. The usefulness of such research first comes from knowing what the parameters are between associated beliefs that consumers will readily go along with and those they will reject. There’s often plenty of room within which the brand can move.
For instance, if a brand is thought of as the cheap alternative and its cause is related to saving money, one may stop short by resigning to this fact and continue shouting about its price advantage. But this will be done at the sacrificing the potential a more emotional connection do for the brand/consumer relationship. The brand may be perceived as the cheap alternative, but can it amplify its underlying cause by stressing that it’s better to be thrifty smart than fashionably poor. Or perhaps its cause can be a statement about reverse snobbery. Clearly something is needed to can detach it from negatives associated with “cheap.
For mature brands especially, it’s important to see that there’s beauty in every beast. Whatever the decision, it is always better to stay within the confines of existing perceptions while looking for more favorable ways to frame them. And thinking of the brand as a story to be told as opposed to a product to be sold is different than using storytelling as an advertising technique. I’ll go so far as to say that it’s even more important.
Strong storytelling can take a product from selling $100 million worth of units to $1 billion worth, according to Gary Vaynerchuk.
Many entrepreneurs understand the importance of storytelling, yet few do it well. Amidst the ton of advice from marketing mavens, we’ve rarely gone straight to the source: Who better to learn from than a veteran who makes his living storytelling?
See on www.techvibes.com