Making your marketing content more meaningful to customers (storytelling and more)

This outtake focused on content marketing strategy – focusing on content models, storytelling and offering some great examples and is taken from an hour of discussion recorded exclusively for our Pivotal Marketer Community on Facebook sees Geraint Holliman, marketing consultant, MSc in Digital Marketing trainer and published author and MMC’s Rene Power.

It’s the fifth part of a series of serialisations on content marketing strategy and implementation.

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Rene Power:

Couple of references then, you mentioned Youtility from Jay Baer. I think there’s another couple of good content books. I think one is They Ask You Answer by a chap called Marcus Sheridan

They Ask, You Answer

I think the concept has got some interest, I think. So looking to produce content that actually answers questions.

So back in the day, people would put frequently asked questions on websites and then we kind of stopped doing it. But actually, in this era of self-selection and warming people up, so that when we get inquiries, they are good inquiries.

They’re not going to necessarily kind of waste our time and mean that we’re making loads of quotes and proposals and we’re in a race to the bottom on price. So all these sorts of things can help I think. There’s some interesting things in his approach.

Building a Story Brand

But then my favourite at the moment is Donald Miller, Build a Story Brand because I just love the idea of putting the customer at the heart of the story. The customer is the hero in whatever they’re trying to achieve, wherever they want to get to, whatever transformation they want to make in their business.

And you are going to be the guide or the conduit to help them get what they want. And there’s a great seven step process in Build a StoryBrand, where you can actually build a plan and a narrative that informs your content and how to communicate to the people that you want to influence most.

Storytelling in marketing

Geraint Holliman:

Well, it’s interesting you talking about stories actually, because that’s the other thing that I’m very interested in from a science point, from a neurology, and psychological, and behavioural point of view, is how stories actually work and the science behind it.

Because there is an absolute tonne of evidence. I mean, stories are the most underrated and underutilised tool in marketing, in my view, because there’s so much empirical evidence for it. And it’s based on some very, very good science. And in fact, I’ll just… You were talking about that book there. This is the book that I always refer to, which is Story Proof by Kendall haven.

So he’s a NASA scientist educator who basically thought that all the stuff that NASA was pumping out was a bit dry, and a bit sciencey, and a bit kind of dull, and school kids weren’t engaging with it. And he said, if we turned all this kind of really interesting stuff into stories, I’m sure people will consume it better.

Than NASA went, “Well now, we’re a science organisation, stories are for kids, don’t be stupid.” And he said, “No, no, I’ll go away and prove it. There’s a lot of science.” And he went away and wrote that book and he came up with the 11 scientific principles of binary opposition, and blending, and emotions, and inference, and pattern matching, and all that kind of stuff.

And so this is why stories work.

And if you can use these in the way that you tell your stories in content, they will be phenomenally more powerful because you’re tapping into the underlying subliminal attachment that people have to these principles of what makes a good story.

So I’m with you on that one. I think stories in content are a massive opportunity, massive, massive opportunity. And all you have to do is just kind of educate yourself a little bit on what the kind of scientific principles behind it are.

And I’m not a scientist by trade, but I mean, I could read that book and it reads like a little adventure that he went through. I mean, he basically did a big lit review. Basically he did a big, massive literature review, 350 sources and came up with that. So very good, yeah.

Promoting user benefit like Apple

Yeah, and so you think about Apple’s advertising, always held up as great, clean, crisp, and clear. I remember when the iPod came along and they were competing with CD players, cassette players and the like. And they just said, “Look, bam, this is a lifestyle thing. It’s about having 1,000 songs in your pocket. It’s not about how small it was or anything. It was their lifestyle thing.

You can have your favourite albums in your pocket and you can flip through any of those songs at any time you like. And this was kind of very, very early days MP3. And that’s, white headphones, and all the rest of it, and then the branding aside, but it was that positioning that really led them to completely rethink how they positioned everything. And now they are a gold standard.

Everybody wants the Apple website, don’t they? Everybody wants that clean, crisp, and clear positioning.

So I just thought I’d throw that thing in on stories because I think it’s a really valuable thing. And I think certainly in our collective B2B space, there’s so much people can do there.

B2C probably have the personal storytelling thing down a little bit easier because by inference, you’re working directly with consumers. In B2B, it can be a little bit harder to break that.

But I think you’ve got to tap into the emotional needs and drivers of the decision-makers and certainly what they’re trying to achieve. So I’m going to just go to the comments quickly, and then we want to just sum it up with maybe a minute or two on what things might work best across the funnel and maybe two or three quick trends maybe for the rest of the year and kind of looking further ahead of time.

Questions from live chat – social media niches

So we’ve got Nancy asking a specific question about Instagram medical purposes. We might not cover that today, but we will be doing a future session on social media. I think number one thing I’d say is if you’re selling medical products, or devices, or whatever into Instagram, make sure that your audience is there with all of this content stuff, because there’s a dizzying array of how to produce it and where to put it.

I think the first thing always has to be where’s your audience? Where are your audience going to be? And what level are they at? And what sort of content are they going to engage with?

If it’s senior managers and directors, they probably favour the longer form, white paper, highbrow stuff. If it’s sort of lower level, smaller businesses, you might get away with the kind of snackable content. Would you agree with that, Geraint?

Geraint Holliman:

Yeah, I would. I know nothing about medical world, I know probably less about Instagram to be frank with you. But my view of these things is, go to the watering hole where your audience goes. So if that’s where they are, that’s where they are. I simply couldn’t comment because I don’t know enough about that audience.

Questions from live chat – applying content with RACE methodology

Rene Power:

About how to get content into the RACE form. I presume she means the RACE methodology, the reach, act, convert, engage. That does actually set a great blueprint for content marketing. If you start to think about the sorts of things you need to be doing at each of those stages. We probably haven’t got the time to go into this in as much detail today, so maybe in about six or eight weeks, we’ll circle back and we’ll get into this in more detail. But yeah, when you’re moving people from being aware, to engagement, to acting, to converting, then the content needs to change, doesn’t it, Geraint?

Geraint Holliman:

I mean, to me, it doesn’t matter what your model is, RACE or I mean, I use a whole bunch of other ones as well. As long as you have a model. You say there are stages that we believe people go through. And by and large, they do, because some people will go for one to four, one to six. It doesn’t matter. Point is, you can only manage a process in general terms.

So RACE is as good as any. And you just have to say, “Well, what is it that they are doing at each stage?” Well, my answer is always, what question does people ask at each stage of the journey? And your content should answer those questions. So whether it’s RACE, or SMART, or whatever the hell else, or ASCII, or RASCI, or RACI, whatever, I don’t care.

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