Here are seven ways to jump on that next wave and reinvigorate your organization’s storytelling for more successful marketing this year.
Many of today’s business stories are “storytelling lite.” Your storytelling must go deeper to be more effective. Most brand storytelling today is superficial and still too corporate-oriented, rather than aimed at human needs. The business storytelling of the future—storytelling that is successful and sustainable—must go deeper. It needs to get vulnerable, real, and drop the perfect endings. Tidy resolutions make for crummy stories. Sometimes stories are imperfect, like people, and that’s okay. In fact, it’s great because it’s real. We’ll see more brands and companies getting real and vulnerable, and that’s a great thing! A deeper emotional connection gives a story legs.
The storytelling of the future will have more of a “social change” component. In fact, it’s already happening—consider TOMS, Patagonia, or even IBM’s Smarter Planet for B2B. Storytelling must be bigger than the company. In part, though not exclusively, this is a generational change. Millennials especially want to do business with companies that care (thankfully) about causes bigger than themselves. Most humans do—not just Millennials. People make choices based on social issues. Companies must not only give a crap about customers, but they must also tell transparent stories about their mission and how it affects society, not just customers’ economic situations. Companies kicking butt here include Warby Parker, Lyft, and The Humane Society. For these companies and others like them, storytelling isn’t about creating something fake just to check a box; it’s about making sure your mission is aligned with a core purpose that is bigger than your company. Great businesses, thankfully, are always about far more than profits. It’s time to communicate that authentically through “prove it” stories.
The “corporate veil” is coming down in favor of a human frame. Part of the reason many brand stories fail to capture the imagination today is because they are still oriented around companies as protagonists. Companies can’t be protagonists. People don’t care about companies. They care about people. You can’t hug or thank a company—though we’ve all wanted to slap companies! People can’t seem themselves reflected in a story about a faceless organization. Great, emotional brand storytelling must be told through the lens of a person: a specific customer, a passionate employee, or a dedicated partner. Every great company story must be anchored in a human story and told through a personal human lens. Anchor your stories through real people, and you’ll see a big difference in your storytelling.
Google Correlate is a powerful keyword generating SEO tool like Google Trend in reverse. A clever part of the webmasters is using this tool for uncovering hidden keywords. You might follow your content strategy using keyword pattern for your powerful content marketing that Google loves.
In Google correlate, you get back queries that its frequency follows a similar pattern on a data series. If you follow a trending topic to develop content, Google correlate can help you with in-depth data. In competitive analysis through personal research, you can use Google correlate as a powerful SEO tool.
#1: Keyword: safety home
#2: Being shown the use of different US states in the bottom image#1, related to image#2 of product catnip oil
#3: You might click on “show more” for more correlated keywords
#4: There is chance to enter a set of keywords on a page and can uncover your correlated keywords
#5: You can pick out the best matching keywords from the correlated set
Great storytelling is becoming decentralized both inside and outside the organization. Story stewardship is becoming every employee’s responsibility, and it’s the C-suite’s job to keep the fire lit. The best storytellers are often not in the C-suite. We know from studies like the Edelman Trust Barometer that customers trust people like us, and that means employees, not executives or the marketing and PR department. Yes, marketing needs to have a hand in storytelling, but controlling the message and who tells it so closely can destroy value for the company rather than help increase it. The best storytellers are closest to the front lines, whether in service, product, or sales. Unleashing these (trained) storytellers will increase the credibility and scale of your storytelling efforts, which (as in the case of IBM, who measured this over seven years) is likely to result in increased lifetime customer values. That’s a powerful return on investment.
In the future, customers will have an increasingly important role in credible storytelling. Smart brands already do this; it’s time for others to step up. Some of the best content today is created or co-created by customers—another important way to engage and scale. Look no further than GoPro for examples of fantastic consumer-generated content. Microsoft, too, has also done a great job of successful storytelling through the lens of customers. For both companies, co-creating has proven an engaging way to scale story and content in a way that is human and authentic.
Great B2B storytelling sells emotional and personal value, not just rational value. Emotions matter. This is not a new concept, but it’s taken the B2B world a while to get on board. Some of the best storytelling today is still being done by B2C companies, but there is no reason B2B can’t adopt that narrative mentality. Emotional narrative is critical to great storytelling, and B2B companies can learn from Hollywood screenwriting here. Google and CEB did a joint study a few years back that produced an interesting finding: personal value had twice the weight in a B2B purchase decision as rational economic value did. This means that all buyers are human and ask, “How does this make my life better?” Real storytelling must solve a human need for the buyer, a person.