The business of marketing has experienced monumental shifts in recent years. From the rise of social media influencers and contextually-aware push notifications, to a booming data economy that can target individual consumers more than ever — the way marketers communicate a concept to consumers is being continuously reshaped and innovated.
I recently attended NewsCred’s ThinkContent Summit 2017 in an attempt to make sense of this transformative environment and get up to date on how leading marketers are communicating the value of their products or services in today’s world. I was particularly struck by a panel on “The Science of Storytelling,” which outlined the various ways marketers can create compelling stories to convey authenticity and build trust. In particular, how to combine high-quality content with current technology to grow your audience and expand your reach.
I’ve outlined below five of the key takeaways from this panel — see if you can work them into your own marketing campaign to achieve success!
Employ the Principles of Moviemaking
Everybody loves a good movie. And even if you don’t, chances are high that you’ve had exposure at some point in your life to the elements of a cinematic narrative — for instance, how character, score, editing, or cinematography can propel a story forward.
Given this widespread familiarity with the joy of movies, the marketing team at Aktana spoke about how to employ the principles of moviemaking in their marketing stories.
One of the crucial elements of a great cinematic story, for example, is the “inciting incident” — major events or decisions that begin a story’s problem and force a character to take action. In Toy Story, for example, the arrival of Buzz Lightyear is the movie’s inciting incident: when Andy starts to favor Buzz over Sheriff Woody, Woody’s place as top toy is threatened and he is forced to take action.
Marketers are advised to create stories with an inciting incident, as this gives a recognizable structure to an advertisement and makes it easily digestible for consumers.
Mix the Old with the New
Next to speak was Aniko Delaney, Global Head of Corporate Marketing at BNY Mellon, a worldwide banking and financial services company headquartered in New York City. Aniko explained how the bank has intertwined its story to the legacy of Alexander Hamilton, who founded the financial institution in 1784. They’ve developed a “legacy campaign,” relating each aspect of finances to Hamilton’s life. Hamilton’s pioneering spirit, for instance, ties back to the bank’s own commitment to staying invested in innovation. Likewise, Hamilton’s reputation for pushing the limits of government and finance informs BNY Mellon’s own dedication to shaping future trends — such as their creation of the first tax-exempt funds and the first mobile securities processing application.
It’s not easy to humanize a bank, yet by mixing the old with the new — by taking the incredible story of Alexander Hamilton and infusing it with a modern touch — BNY Mellon’s team gives shape and life to the bank’s 230-year history.
Create Multi-Level Content
The panel continued with a talk from content strategists at Merck, one of the world’s largest pharmaceutical companies. The idea here was how to develop multi-level content to effectively connect with different customers at different stages in the customer lifecycle.
If Merck were developing a new drug to alleviate shingles, for instance, they would develop marketing content that relates to both doctors and patients (the different “levels” of the drug’s consumers). Merck’s content team would create science-backed content to convince doctors of the efficacy the new drug to treat shingles. At the same time, their content team would begin developing a video advertising campaign aimed at people entering middle age (who have an increased risk of developing shingles) — thus notifying them of this new medicine.
In this way, Merck can successfully market to the different “levels” of the new drug’s customer base — creating varied content that appeals to doctors and patients alike.
Infuse Your Story with Vulnerability
Next up were marketing experts from Optum and Bloomberg Media. Their discussion centered on how to tap into the emotions of your audience. Specifically, they stressed the importance of creating honest tension within stories — moments that reflect the actual vulnerability of our lives.
Take the example of The Honest Company, the consumer goods company co-founded by Jessica Alba that creates healthy, eco-friendly products for families. They crafted their story by appealing to parents’ desires to create safe environments for their kids. They actively share the contents of their products, supply chain, and the fact that they avoid chemicals with possible links to harmful human impact. They gained the trust of families through their commitment to rigorous transparency, and by addressing the vulnerability that young families feel when choosing consumer goods.
The Co-founders of The Infatuation led the next discussion. They talked about how the key to connecting with your consumer lies in writing with authenticity, a strong voice, and a clear point of view. If your audience consists of Brooklyn-based millennials, for instance, write in a way that appeals to that audience. Convey your content using the parlance of your given demographic, and tap into their interests in order to make the story come to life.
By committing to the long-term mission of communicating in a way that aligns with your audience, you will demonstrate authenticity, credibility, and bring true value to you consumers.