One common misconception of successful marketing is solely needing the best product – if it’s so amazing, the product/service should speak for itself, right? Not necessarily. Everpix is the latest tragic example – a company that dedicated all its resources into the perfect product. The result? A lack of growth beyond its base of early adopters. Lots of variables come into play, but one stood out to me – marketing was not prioritized or executed soon enough.
Another misconception of marketing is that it must be expensive. Traditional marketing is expensive as it largely depends on advertisements. Thankfully, marketing professionals are no longer dependent on this methodology. In an online world where buyers are armed with an abundance of information, company-centric (me! me! me!) content or intrusive, spammy methods to nurture leads are widely ignored or dismissed.
Rather than push content into buyers’ faces, businesses can best differentiate themselves from the competition by pulling and attracting buyers to read their content. Insightful, helpful blogs, white papers, podcasts, videos – sharing best practices, supporting a worthwhile cause – this is content that buyers desire and will flock to if you can provide it. And the smartest marketing folks build their company’s brand and reputation by being the credible, go-to source for relevant information. This is the foundation for what we call content marketing.
For the rest of this blog, I will emphasize that the best content marketing is driven by excellent storytelling. Feel free to download my presentation’s slides.
A story expresses how and why life changes.
A story – whether a novel or a movie or even a commercial – will be boring without change. So think about the change you want to see in this world. Is that the reason why your company exists? It should be. Good brands tell stories that are relevant, entertaining, and engaging under a central theme. The best brands, however, deliver content that CHANGES you, most likely by provoking emotions. People may forget what you have done, what you said, or tried to sell, but they will remember how they felt when they experienced your story.
One way to get started into storytelling – frame the narrative, in the following order:
- World View: what we observe and experience – the way the world exists today.
- Problem Set: the worldview focuses on a problem.
- Strategic Approach: my company / product has a solution to this problem.
- Implementation: the specifics of my approach and the benefits – buy X, Y, and Z and things are going to be magically different.
Four simple asks, but very difficult to execute… especially on the first try. The best stories are never complete upon the first draft. Multiple revisions, refinements, and iterations are necessary to produce the best story. This can be summarized in 3 cyclical steps:
- Test: tell a story – does it resonate?
- Use: memorable stories are meant to be shared.
- Iterate: good stories (the best!) are worth repeating.
(repeat back to step 1)
Red Bull is perhaps the best example of excellent content marketing and storytelling based on the framed narrative approach.
- World View (in 1987): functional drinks are limited. Gatorade for replenishing energy. Coffee for waking. Everything else is medicinal (tastes bad too).
- Problem Set: there is a lack of beverages that taste good and provide a boost of energy.
- Strategic Approach: give birth to a whole new product category – energy drinks – give wings to people.
- Implementation: energy yields magical, epic moments in sports, music, art, adventure – give wings to not only people, but ideas
Result? Red Bull has sold over 35 billion cans within 25 years of the company’s history.
Another great example is demonstrated by the Make-A-Wish Foundation.
- World View: children are dying of diseases and illnesses.
- Problem Set: people feel helpless. The world sucks.
- Strategic Approach: make something negative become a positive. Give hope and generosity to those who would be impacted the most.
- Implementation: make a child’s wish become a reality, even if temporary. Inspire others to transform lives.
Result? Countless feel-good stories like this one were executed and shared.
The bottom line: when it comes to marketing, you do not need to be extravagant or spend tons of money. Sometimes, it’s just about telling a story to the right people and using the right medium.
“The world would look drastically different if we spent more time identifying a problem to own, rather than fighting for more space, more time, or more money in our own little part of the world.”
– Lara Galinsky, Harvard Business Review author
So, what change do you desire in this world? What is that problem your company wants to tackle? Would love to learn your story.