Monday, 21 July 2014

Does Marketing need to tell Stories?

Any traditional marketeer would be guided by the spray & pray methodology. However the average customer is being bombarded by nearly 5000 messages a day as they watch the telly, drive to work, surf across different website or read the morning paper. In this scenario, how can one guarantee that the messages are getting through? Marketeers need a hook to get the customer latched on and that is going to be the story.

Typical audiences today don't want to know about the benefits of your product. They want to know how it fits in to their daily lives and how it will make it easier for them. So hold on if you're trying to bombard them with brand oriented content. Rather, tell them a story where the product is just an element. The key is not to glorify the product / service but to help the customer understand how its a fit for their needs through a story about a character they can relate to. A report by Nielsen showed the importance of relevance in ads shown to customers. “While brand marketers increasingly seek to deploy more effective advertising strategies, Nielsen’s survey shows that the continued proliferation of media messages may be impacting how well they resonate with their intended audiences on various platforms,” said Randall Beard, global head, Advertiser Solutions at Nielsen. It's important to get that emotional connect with the customer and that can be best told through stories. As per this infographic, 92% of consumers want brands to make ads that feel like a story.

This is exactly what an independent fashion and lifestyle site called Refinery29 did on Facebook in close association with Adaptly, a social media advertising firm. They executed two campaigns simultaneously to two sets of lookalike audiences. While one audience was only shown a subscription oriented message, the other set of audience was shown three different messages. The second audience was first shown a brand story followed by the product details to finish up with the subscription call to action. The comparison to indicate the lift in the subscription rate is shown below:

Clearly the story based approach helped in higher subscriptions and it should result in an audience that is more engaged with the brand.This shows that brands that are new need to follow the classic AIDA model as i recall from my marketing days. Create awareness followed by interest and desire to finally lead to action. Stronger brands on the other hand may need to opt for this route, should they want to test and learn what works better. For now, its clear that marketeers would need to build relevant content to engage the customer as he/she moves across different media. That's where they need to be telling the stories.

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