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    Adzooma BlogOpinionThe Best of Times, The Worst of Times: Why Storytelling Counts In Business

The Best of Times, The Worst of Times: Why Storytelling Counts In Business

September 10, 2020
Melissa Fretwell
written by Melissa Fretwell

In this article, we look at how your business can use the art of storytelling to grow and thrive for years to come.

Spoiler alert: This is not another COVID-19 tale speculating about the new normal.

So what the Dickens is this really about? This, dear readers, is about the power of storytelling in business. I am going to take a little of your time to explain why every product or service has a great story to tell. This gubbins matters, we as human beings are programmed to respond to stories, it’s in our DNA, so unfold those arms, put the kettle on and crack open the *Hobnobs.

This is a story of three parts carving up what can become chewy semantics, a feast of marketing jargon into easily digestible bite-sized take-outs you can apply to your world, whatever business you’re in.

*a UK household favourite aka the biscuit of dreams. Just never look at the calorie content. Ever.

Part One – The beginning is a great place to start

Your Why

Love him or hate him, Simon Sinek makes a great point: “People don’t buy what you do; they buy why you do it.” So spend time figuring out your purpose. Ask the big existential questions like, why are you here? What are you trying to do to make the world a wee bit better.

Try not to get caught up in the knotty jargon of vision, mission, ambition. Why are you bothering to do what you do is what you need to capture. Sometimes starting with the legacy your business will leave behind and working backwards unlocks fresh ideas.

A “what will be written on your tombstone” idea but much less gothic. Make sure it’s achievable. We are all naked on the internet and any over claims will be called out. Reputations take years to build and minutes to destroy.

Your audience

Having more than a rough idea of who you are targeting is pretty vital. Yes there’s a myriad of micro-target audiences you can reach on a 1-2-1 basis across digital marketing but take a few paces back. Inject some human into what you are doing by getting inside the minds of your consumers and carefully tailor your tone and aesthetic to fit.

Buy the cat a new goldfish and commission some research so you are really clear on who your current and target audiences are. Sometimes who you’re attracting right now aren’t as desirable and committed as they could be, so use research to discover new, profitable segments.

There are so many other research techniques out there beyond a focus group that dig into actual over claimed behaviours. Genuinely insightful!

Your values and personality

In simple terms what do you stand for and what do you stand against? Having powerful and distinctive values can be core to your proposition. Bring these to life, stick them on a wall, a t-shirt, the [home] office dog. Live by them without cynicism.

These become your brand compass which guides you through the big, exciting strategic decisions from who to hire and where you advertise to who you partner with and who you wouldn’t.

If they’re not written down they can become twisted marketing myths, echo chambers which could easily take you off course.

Part Two – The juicy middle

Think like a challenger

More David and Goliath shizzle? Partly yes, partly no.

It’s become so much more refined, there are more nuanced challenger brands we’ve worked with who aren’t simply fighting the no.1 market leader but they are challenging the definition of a category, societal biases or simply fixing problems we didn’t even know existed.

Challenger brands are ace because they do more with less, leveraging their creativity. They win hearts and minds through delegating talkability throughout their teams, rethinking every touch point as media and using ideas over cash as their currency.

If that doesn’t get pulses racing and hairs standing on the back of your neck, we’re not sure what will.

Think like a publisher

Content is of course king. We have heard that many times and for marketing, it’s all about creating and distributing really relevant content (videos, infographics, PowerPoint slides, tweets, posts, articles, white papers, books and even games) at the right time, that helps the right people – prospects and customers achieve their goals.

Compelling content and a tidy ad spend are a match made in heaven. An affordable way to test, learn and iterate with campaigns that are easy to measure and evolve.

Tangent alert! Like all good shaggy dog stories, sometimes we have to go off piste. This detour is about curiosity itself and how it mud wrestles with stories:

“Curiosity is the intellectual need to answer questions and close patterns. Story plays to this universal desire by doing the opposite, posing questions and opening situations”

Robert McKee – screenwriter & lecturer

Anything from clickbait to polls, newsflashes and quizzes fuel our need to find out more. But here’s the thing, you need to share enough information to get our curiosity piqued but not too much so we are disappointed by the reveal. Curiosity is inspired by puzzles and mysteries. Puzzles are short-lived curiosity killed by discovery while mysteries keep us questioning and exploring.

Keep these concepts in front of your mind when planning your content. Curiosity is a driver of that all-important and rare bird we call “attention”. We’re all competing for consumer’s attention so experiment with a range of smart ways which drive curiosity and genuinely engage.

Part Three – The denouement

To help tie up these loose ends and bring us back to the why. The “why am I reading this post?” kind of why.

Here is your reward. A handy 11 point content marketing checklist which you can apply to plan today:

  • Do you have your house in order? What will you stop, start, continue?
  • Get your brand guidelines written down and visualised so anyone working on your brand gets it
  • Know your audience – figure out their interests and passions and ways you can connect your brand with these
  • Content rules – identify your competition’s efforts and then do better. Steal with pride.
  • Curiouser and curiouser – How are you going to inspire curiosity?
  • Don’t sit on the fence – Be bold with the stories you tell, have an opinion without being offensive. Unless being offensive and provocative is how your brand rolls.
  • Experiment – there’s no silver bullet. Experiments take time, be realistic about how long you’ll give something to prove it’s worth before axing it.
  • Apply fewer, bigger, better to longer-form content, simply put quality over quantity
  • Don’t forget about semiotics – meaning is communicated in many ways, the details count.
  • Plan to react in an always-on world. Create evergreen content with space for topical content to live when that trending moment lands.
  • Don’t overthink it.

To leave you with the words of the annoyingly brilliant David Ogilvy “There are no dull products, only dull writers.” And if we can help at all with your why, your brand proposition, marketing strategy and execution do drop us a line. We have teeth but rarely bite. For all your digital ad campaigns, those nice folks at Adzooma may be able to help.

Melissa Fretwell

Melissa Fretwell
Melissa is the founder of White Camino and has over 15 years’ experience of telling marketing stories from entertainment brands at UKTV and Channel 4. She’s a chartered marketeer, CIM mentor and also a creative advisory board member of youth charity Ideas Foundation. As Business Director of Hoxby, an award-winning freelance collective, she can cherry pick her virtual team for White Camino.

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