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The Value of Telling a Story

Marketing must be memorable and relatable – two main components of every great story.  Storytelling, or content marketing, allows marketers to connect a product or service with an audience in such a way that engages their interest and leaves a lasting impression.  This connection brings real value and as the digital landscape surpasses the traditional, print and television arenas, the story is more important than ever.  At Atlas Marketing, we focus on telling stories and continue to find many companies, and their marketing communications teams, don’t consider their story a strategic aspect of their business.

Seventy percent of marketers (yes, nearly ¾ of them) lack a consistent, integrated strategy according to Altimeter.  I find this statistic startling because connecting a story is the easiest method to consistently relate your brand or product to your audience or customers.

Storytelling is the communication of simple messages that link your audience to your brand over time. This connection is vital as marketers struggle to keep the attention of consumers.  Story informs and ensures your customers continue to turn to you for a solution.  In my opinion, the story is the simplest form of attracting, engaging and connecting with people.

Relatability and consistency

As a startup, a tech company or any company for that matter, it is vital to share the solution you provide to your audience.  The iPod would not have been as successful had Steve Jobs not told the world that you can hold over 1,000 albums in your pocket – very relatable.  This story approach continued with the introduction of the iPhone, iPad and Apple Watch – consistency.

By incorporating a story strategy, you achieve two things – first, there is consistency in allowing your customers to follow along.  Once they have doubt or don’t understand the technology their attentions are elsewhere, and you’ve lost them.  Second, a story allows you to thread the various aspects of your product or technology into a range of communications vehicles in a relatable fashion.  For example, not all products or services are a good fit for social media, yet marketers flock to these platforms because of the broad appeal.  In many situations, social media has replaced television, and still, we often see the results of these efforts are significantly less than expected.

Vehicles to tell a story

In today’s marketing world, there are so many communications vehicles to choose from and a variety of factor to consider when selecting the correct vehicle.  For example, is your product or service visually interesting? What are your expectations?  Do you have the ability to sustain the commitment necessary to meet those expectations?

Marketing has become a blend of PR and advertising since the rise of social media and Internet 2.0. According to the Content Marketing Institute and PR Newswire, 78% of effective storytellers use news releases in their strategy.  The reason for this is telling a story relies on engagement and interest to be effective. The challenge lies in the continuation of the story.

Elements of a successful story include extending touch points to your audience.  Being able to consistently rise above the noise and connect is key.  For example, the average time spent on a single piece of content on Facebook is 2.5 seconds on the desktop platform and even less, 1.7 seconds, on mobile according to Facebook IQ.  Based on these numbers, you need to tell portions of your story at least fifteen to twenty times to make an impact.  Another item to consider when determining the correct vehicle is when people are on the platform – 13% of LinkedIn users only log in once a day according to Pew Research.

It’s not that people have stopped seeking information, it is how people consume information that has changed.  Marketers and decision makers need to adjust their strategies and know which vehicles make sense.

Success

I am asked frequently, what makes a story successful.  My answer takes its cue from the local news – what makes a news story compelling?  Is your story focused on leadership, the product, the solution or the technology?  Delving into the correlation between your story’s focus and that of your audience can drive the entire strategy, which will establish success.  Of course, allocating the proper resources ensures success, too.

According to the Content Marketing Institute, successful marketers spend 40% of their budgets on telling a story.  To achieve your goals and attract more funding, sell more product, or grow your company look to tell your story.  Stories bring real value to businesses by connecting and providing additional details that move us to act.  When done consistently and strategically, telling a story can change the world. Just watch how Apple sells it next versions of product and take note.  It works!

This article was previously written by Chris Martin and appeared in TEQ Magazine.