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Why is Storytelling so Compelling in Marketing?
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  • 1. ConversationAgent.com & TransmissionMarketing.ca 1 Why is Storytelling so Compelling in Marketing?Ask(?)Away is a candid conversation between two people published on ablog. This transcript includes comments from the readers and space for yournotes. Our rst guest in this format at Conversation Agent is Mark Goren ofTransmission Content + Creative.Valeria Maltoni: Storytelling is the backbone of our ability to remember and transmit informationby compressing it into manageable chunks. We are able to edit the information we receive to suitour needs. We edit to make it simple and concrete. As we do that, we tend to recall and includethe pieces of information that match our worldview and, by doing so, we rewrite some of what wehear to suit our thinking.That’’s why marketing would be a nonstarter without storytelling. Why is storytelling socompelling in marketing?Credits: Logo design courtesy of Ryan Mesheau via Mark Goren. PDF design and light edits by Valeria Maltoni.
  • 2. ConversationAgent.com & TransmissionMarketing.caMark Goren: Exactly. Storytelling ––- andhaving a good brand story ––- is about helping viewed in the market from the get go. 2 Trust is built over time. As we talk aboutpeople relate to a brand as it pertains to them. evolution and trust, I’’m reminded that theseLike you say, ““edit the information we receive are uid concepts closer to our hearts than ourto suit our needs.”” I like that notion because it minds. Is it a little bit of both? How do you trecognizes how important it is to allow people measurement in the equation?to connect to a story in their own way. A storyis not preachy, it’’s not top-down and corporate Mark Goren: Funny you should bring up–– it allows for interpretation and it can evolve. the movie example, Valeria. I watched Rocky Balboa twice this weekend (a nice PhiladelphiaIf there’’s one area where marketers can do reference for you) and can’’t get some of thebetter, it’’s in recognizing that their efforts can scenes out of my head. The music, the images,evolve organically –– and that not everything the story. So your analogy is perfectly timed,has to go according to a set-in-stone plan. very true ––- and we’’re back to storytelling.Your take? So how do we t measurement into theValeria Maltoni: I think the best stories are equation? Interesting that you write, ““trustthose that inspire action. Remember when you is built over time”” and then ask aboutwere a child and saw a movie, then spent the measurement. If trust is built over time ––- andrest of the day continuing the story in your it is -–– then measuring the effectiveness of anyenvironment and head? That to me is what marketing effort has to respect the time factor.organic means. In other words, you can’’t put up a blog (forThe original pre-packaged story is only the example) and ditch it after two months if it’’sstart of a conversation with the people who not achieving ““stated objectives””. The onus isjoin in. The confusion begins when the on the marketer to make the blog relevant tocompany thinks they need to control every the target ––- and nding the right combinationaspect of how its products and services are may take time.
  • 3. ConversationAgent.com & TransmissionMarketing.caWhat are your thoughts on measurement?And what about on tweaking vs. scrapping 3 them into the marketplace for reaction. And you can’’t get discouraged, at least not after one attempt.””and starting again? Steve Roesler joined the conversation by introducing the notion of time: ““Let’’s face it:Bob Glaza asks a very good set of questions: whenever we’’re building trust through relationships,what is it we want to measure? Is it a concrete number and then asking people to invest in what we’’re doing,like bottom line? Is it more elusive like customer there is a timeline involved.””loyalty? How about return visits? Mark responded that focusing on the longMatt Dickman chimes in with the idea of a term is not attractive. Especially in the eld ofbalancing act measurement. While some short term new media, it is crucial to track results alonggoals are easier to measure, the real marketers are efforts. But if you’’re thinking and worryinglooking more long term. How can/should we balance only about now, you won’’t create muchthe two? momentum to build on for tomorrow. Let’’s nd out how we do that.Mark responses that the key is what youare measuring. And, as Toby Bloomberg (Continued)wrote late last week: ““Good relationships should Valeria Maltoni: Measurement shouldimpact your bottom line.”” So let’’s measure the be built into every activity in the form ofvariables that affect long-term relationships, feedback. Online you can use RSS feeds,the variables that reect why and how people hits to your site, links to downloads, etc.react, how they interact, learn from what we Ofine you start with customer service andcan see and adjust as we go along, he said. conversations in every situation where theMark also quoted from Greg Verdino’’s organization touches customers. There is norecent post on viral marketing: ““You need to need to complicate things.produce lots of content, try different things, and get Our gift campaign last year included my
  • 4. ConversationAgent.com & TransmissionMarketing.cabusiness card with each package and covernote. I told our sales reps to tell their 4 feeds, hits, downloads, etc. These are the stats that give you a live take on what’’s working andcustomers to contact me with any questions what doesn’’t. As is asking people to contactor comments about it. They did, we had great you directly. Talking to people, getting theirconversations and testimonials as a result. Too rst-person experiences and opinions is keymany marketers work behind the scenes. I to learning, and that’’s how you know whattruly believe that customer service is the new to tweak and adjust without going throughmarketing. a complete overhaul of your message and tactics. If customer service is about listeningTime is all you’’ve got. No right combination, and responding well, than I completely agreeno sales. It’’s worth pursuing when you look ––- customer service is the new marketing. Myat it that way. Tweak enough to know what TDBank experience can speak to that.changed and what feedback you have fromit, test to nd out what works in a way that Coming from a traditional agency background,you can isolate it. And also play with new I’’ve seen campaign measurements lead to poorenvironments. As an example, we created a decision making all too often. Measuringself-contained mini site for one of our product things in this world means looking forlines because we could dene the customer reasons not to do something, to go safe.segment and their preferences extremely well. Of course, when you’’re spending hundredsThen we built a couple of new elements into of thousands of dollars on a print campaign,the mini site to keep things interesting. We you want to know if it’’ll work. Problem is, it’’smeasured the response at launch, through user a process geared to stie experimentation and,feedback over time and through the elements of course, you can never know what’’s goingwe change. It works. Can you think of an to work or not. Sometimes you’’ve just got toexample or two? test, try, adjust, try, adjust, try, adjust, and try again –– and always keep tweaking. And leaveMark Goren: I like that your measurement yourself the room to do so. I think that’’s aexamples are small and easy to implement ––
  • 5. ConversationAgent.com & TransmissionMarketing.cabig part of the problem with the traditionalmodel. media in innovative ways. 5 Mark Goren:Allow me to tweak your lastSo what do you think –– is advertising as we sentence, Valeria: The traditional model isknow it dead? not working because practitioners often have a hard time seeing the value of new media. IValeria Maltoni:That’’s interesting; you say think advertisers have to ease themselves intothat measuring often means looking for accepting these new options, learn what theyproof that something is not working. So can do for their brands and then graduallyhow do we switch to a more open process? put more and more money into new media.Can we borrow the philosophy from positive So they should, as you suggest, add a socialpsychology and devise ways to experiment for component to their traditional efforts ifmeaning? Which then begs the question, how they’’re set on going the traditional route anddo you measure meaning? I think it comes then watch how things evolve and make thethrough impact. necessary adjustments.Are people taking your ideas/products/ I also think you pinpoint another keyservices and using them? How are they using element to all this: patience. The importancethem? Can you evolve the conversation with of developing long-term thinking herethem? Print can be a way to invite people to is paramount (as we touched on earlier).give you permission and engage with them. We Relationships aren’’t built overnight.did a campaign to invite people to integratea new product into their mix and begin a How do you measure meaning? I think thedialogue on where it t for them. Despite the answer is above. Try new things and wait toincreasing market pressure and competition, see how it pays off in relationships –– andthis long term strategy has paid off. make sure you have the patience to nd out.The traditional model is not working because Valeria Maltoni: Practitioners will not bepractitioners often have a hard time using the able to sell the value (hate this word, it’’s so...
  • 6. ConversationAgent.com & TransmissionMarketing.camarketers) of new media without some solidROI in a corporate model. There is also the 6 proposition. So if we were working with kids to get them to try something new, how wouldbarrier that many marketing managers in we get it into their hands?organizations do not understand blogging or Philippe Deltenre In my job, I hate to llsocial media. They read about them -- now it in monthly KPIs but it’’s important for myseems everywhere -- but until you do it, you hierarchy. Same story with the advertisers.won’’t really know how it can apply. Most of the advertisers I meet are eager toAnd doing to understand is the only way to innovate and develop online strategies butadd a social media component to broader they need a measurement tool to present theprograms in many organizations. campaign ROI. The best models are the net promoter scoreSteve Roesler picked up on the ““doing to that measures brand favorability and an OMDunderstand”” part. This would require someone econometric model determining and weightingin the corporate environment to take a risk by the variables in sales base, product mix,trying out something that is unproven. That’’s a seasonality and media contribution.huge career-limiting opportunity. But beyond existing models, the beauty(Valeria) To me doing in order to understand and the curse of online is in the variety ofis innovation. When I selected the Client gift, measurement and reporting tools. It’’s often aI knew I would have less of a battle in selling mess but it allows every advertiser to optimizethe concept. And I didn’’t do any selling of permanently his actions. On TV you optimizethat concept. I sold my boss and a colleague based on GRPs and that’’s it.to attend Seth’’s seminar in December. Then I (Valeria) Methodology should precedewent ahead with the book for our customers. outcome, or you can set yourself up to(Steve) I agree that new media is a hands measure for the outcome you want in the rston, ““let’’s play with it until it works for us”” place.
  • 7. ConversationAgent.com & TransmissionMarketing.ca(Mark) I talked about measurement with aclient recently. The client was only interested 7 work there? Visiting the site may mean you’’ve found information to nd the right schoolin being able to have measurement built into to become certied (which could take somethe project. He didn’’t know what to measure, time) or it could mean that the visitor foundonly that he wanted to measure something. a company that’’s looking for employees right then.How can we work long-term measurementgoals into the equation for the development It would seem impossible to track how manyof a career awareness site? were inuenced by the site and ended up with a career in that industry.A few years from now, how could we knowthat someone who had become engaged in this (Valeria) that’’s where feedback comes in. Howsite ended up a) exploring the possibility of do you set up conversations to gather and givejoining the industry and b) did end up working the right kind of feedback that can be used asin the industry? breadcrumbs?Is there a way to know what the effects of an (Philippe) Especially if you consider theonline initiative are ofine? How would you fact that a decision is often based on severalmeasure this? factors –– website, articles in the press, word of mouth…… The website is an element in a chain.(Philippe) it’’s the same for any kind ofadvertising. You measure the sales and test the To make a silly analogy: At my ofce, wecampaign efciency with a panel. have free drinks and free speculoos (Belgian biscuits). Does it have an impact on employee(Mark) In this case, we are talking about how satisfaction? Probably, but I wouldn’’t be ablemany people join an industry. How is one to measure it.supposed to know that someone got a job atcompany X because of the site or because (Valeria) Feedback is the best juice forthey were job hunting and happened to nd relationships. Let me give you a specic
  • 8. ConversationAgent.com & TransmissionMarketing.caexample. You come to this blog and join aconversation that gets you buzzing with ideas; media is all about. 8 Are people telling a story every time theyyou decide to include the blog in your blogroll. blog or respond to one? My rst impressionThat is feedback and an important piece of is that at a certain point storytelling ends andinformation. story-rationalizing ping pong begins. Doesn’’tWe get that type of feedback all the time in the insertion of strong ““justication”” into aofine conversations with nonverbals, calls, conversation stop the dialogue or potentialoffers to meet for coffee, etc. What we have sidetrack a story from being fully told? Also, isonline is technology. Yet at the end of the day, a story being told in a question?it’’s the people we care about. (Mark) It depends how you dene story. If(Mark) how can you track and monitor the you accept that a story can evolve, then youeffect that a visit to a site has on the visitors’’ can think of a blog as justication for thatfuture behavior? Is it even possible? story, but also as clarication, editing and rewriting that story.(Valeria) you provide opportunities forfeedback on your site, social bookmarks I know that I believe certain things and thatalready do some of that. Tracking and I have a strong opinion about many things Imonitoring need to be customer and audience- write on my blog. The beauty of it all is beingbased so that they are opt in vs. push through. able to have these conversations and allowing your story to evolve through the opinions,Tim McHale adds a voice on the business facts and conversations of/with others.card in the customer gift. That follow-up youreferred to is key. It’’s natural to want to justify what you’’re thinking –– what’’s unnatural is to believe it toBringing in ““storytelling”” into this dialogue be wholeheartedly true. Good marketers arewas critical to me and it makes me believe that out here asking to be challenged –– and notby emphasizing ““storytelling media”” may get a assuming that what they say is the gospel.wider net of people to understand what social