Content marketing is the rage today. I get nearly a hundred emails a today from companies providing reports and e-books, all for the price of my click or email subscription. Companies have realized that one of the most powerful ways to engage prospects and customers is to continually provide useful value. Delivering a flow of content is one of the easiest and lowest cost approaches.
For prospective customers, delivering useful content can keep your target market interested and continue the nurture cycle. You can no longer rely on single touches to engage prospects. Content marketing through an intelligently designed cycle can gradually build trust and confidence in your audience.
The same holds true for working with an existing customer base. We are past the days of one email driving a sale or acquiring a new lead. We are also past the day of a single thank you email after a purchase being sufficient for good marketing and customer service.
The New Era of The Narrative
I’m going to suggest that we must take a new look at our content libraries and the surrounding distribution strategy. We live in a new, digital era where regardless of your business size it’s time to think about the long tail or your story. This is where creating a company narrative, aka ‘story’ is an essential part of marketing and business development.
Developing stories associated with your long term marketing plans is something that MSL Group did as they were developing their social media plans. In a recent Fortune magazine article, the move to incorporate strategies of story in marketing helped Mass Mutual see a 10% increase in close rates. According to Brian Burgess, head of brand and talent, “Everyone is creating content, so people need to learn the skill of how to tell and effective story.” Tony Osborn of MSL Group says that authenticity is critical in social media efforts. “It takes something simple, like a purchase you make as a customer, into a meaningful experience.”
The Science of Creating Story
One of the first times I talked to a potential client about the concept of story, they were confused and equated it to more of the same marketing-speak of blasting out emails and putting up feature and benefits pages on web sites. This is hardly the case. Story has clearly defined points that follow an arc. Think about the movies and television shows you watch. They start, create tension, release it, build it again and ultimately resolve. That’s exactly what marketing using storytelling and narrative does. The story content is delivered through the nurturing cycle of a continual stream of content you’re delivering. This way, you increase the interest or engagement factor.
Here is an example of a story map illustrating the arcs. At the bottom are bands of content types such as social posts, emails, videos and other media used to deliver parts of the story.
Achieving Success With Story Infused Marketing
Instead of creating one dimensional messages for your audience, start thinking from a larger perspective. Begin the work of crafting the story of your company, product, service and mission. When the retailer Neiman Markus implemented a rich set of stories around products called “The Art of …” covering specific colors, fabrics, travel, shoes, entertaining, etc. to promote the various sections of their catalog. Each campaign functioned on social sites including Pinterest where a storyline was constructed with rich, visual imagery. Additionally, they created videos, webinars and Q&A with fashion bloggers. The result was 3,000 new followers within 2 weeks of launching the campaign.
The bottom line – story works!