Monthly Archives: January 2014

Part One: How to Use Storytelling in Your Content Marketing

A few months ago, I wrote an article about storytelling new-found renaissance. It seems to me that the term “storytelling” itself gets thrown around quite often in marketing departments without much thought to what it truly means. I worry that storytelling will become a hackneyed term and lose its impact. If storytelling is the new black, how can a marketer implement this technique into her program?

Step One: Realize Storytelling is a Different Approach

As a marketer, you are trained to persuade your prospects that your products and services are the best. However, marketing to your prospects has become more complicated. You are now competing not only for your prospects e-mail box, but also their attention. Three-quarters of all adults now regularly use a social networking site. There are more active wireless devices in the United States (326 million) than there are human beings (314 million). More than 6 billion hours of video are watched on YouTube every month. If you are going to capture your audience attention, you need to have something valuable and relevant to say.

Rachel Metscher Content Marketing Stands for Change

Image from Compendium

Marketers never had to worry how to connect with their prospects. We would send emails, postcards, and collateral out and those interested would contact us and the cycle would continue until the prospect purchased. In today’s market prospects are in control. A Corporate Executive Board (CEB) study of more than 1,400 B2B customers across industries revealed that 57% of a typical purchase decision is made before a customer even talk to a supplier.

As marketers we now have to worry about persuading and connecting with our audience. It’s all about understanding how the customers or products highlighted in our corporate stories relate. How those characters interact. It is a different approach because marketers need to think beyond just getting their message out in the market, but also how it can resonant and connect. SAP’s Chief Storyteller, Julie Roehm said it best, “to break through the clutter, meaningful, one to one conversations with our customer is now more important than ever.”

Step Two: You Need Buy-In

Storytelling sounds simple in concept, but your internal stakeholders will not understand why they need to change. Whether it is your sales, product or services teams, they are only interested if you send out the email or promotion, they do not care if the message works. That is not their interest. Your stakeholders just want to make sure the tactic has been accomplished, but little time is devoted to whether it performed well.  Marketers know it is not about activity rather than performance. 

Marketers are the customers advocate and the only team invested in representing their concerns, pain points, and challenges. So, you need to help your stakeholders understand why defining the customer, understanding their pain points, addressing their concerns will be beneficial. This change is the hardest piece to storytelling and often overlooked.

So, how do you get change with your internal teams? You need a corporate sponsor. Someone in your organization that the internal teams report to that understands and supports what you are trying to achieve. Think executive or someone of influence. Executive support takes understanding what motivates her and illustrating what success will look like when you are done. Be clear that storytelling is not a fad, but a way to tell the story to the client about how your company can help them.

Stay tune until next week where I post part two.

Rachel DiCaro Metscher  has worked with many organizations to build their communications and marketing programs, including Fannie Mae, American Psychological Association, and The Princeton Review. She is currently working in the DC metro area building content marketing programs from the ground up.

Seven Ways How PR Made Me a Better Marketer

A few months ago, I made the transition from public relations back to marketing. Except this time I approach my marketing very differently. As a marketing communications professional, I am always entertained how both disciplines see each other differently. I would wager to say that spending time in public relations made me a better marketer for several reasons:

Always thinking in terms of your intended audience

Marketers sometimes forget that without an audience no one will know about your products. Folks need to think about their intended audience and how they consume content. PR people get this and use storytelling innately in their programs and campaigns. People will remember a story more than your products. Hello anecdote examples. Remember this, the most valued and shared stories reveal unfulfilled needs and desires.” Jon King, Managing Director, Story Worldwide Europe

Understand the importance of storytelling

The first way to bring storytelling into your business is to make your customer the hero. Not to be trite, I often see many websites with more sales sheets than client success stories or case studies. Storytelling allows you to put your customer in the limelight. Share their successes and challenges. I used video to share industry insight by the folks (clients, employees, pundits) in my former company who have been in the market and shared their experiences.

Rachel Metscher Why PR made me a Better Marketer

Image from SpinSucks.com

Writing in understandable, “real voice” is vital

Leave your marketing speak and your boilerplates at home. No jargon or buzzwords. Seriously.

Understand social Media  is an integrated approach, not a separate channel

Social should not be considered a separate entity, but an integrated approach to your marketing programs. Social Media is another opportunity to connect with your market. If your followers are not re-sharing your content, then you are missing a huge opportunity to engage and connect. When you think about content you share on social media think in terms of your ideal client. What do they want to share? What type of information they need? What do they want to hear?

Most folks want to share photos, stories, links to articles that will help or teach them something new. Be the source of information people want to engage with. Charity: Water does an amazing job of telling the story of how bringing clean, safe drinking water to people in developing nations is connected to their donation. I love the page about sponsoring a water project that in great detail shares what a contributor’s donation actually is used for. Fantastic use of images, details to tell their story and how it contributes to the greater good.

Incorporating digital such as SEO and SEM

If you are not thinking how your audience is finding your products or services, you are missing a huge opportunity. Marketers need to pay close attention of what has been happening in search. In particular, Content Marketing Institute wrote a great article about the Penguin 2.0  changes several months ago, but you want to pay close attention to point four. An excerpt from the article is what makes me smile: Takeaway #4: Earned media and digital PR can help you recover from Panda. Driving a variety of quality digital signals is a future-proof SEO strategy. Having a broad diversification of off-page signals communicates authority and trust to Google. Content marketing and digital PR folks who primarily rely on their compelling content to drive search engine traffic should be smiling now because the future looks bright for them. It looks bright because with each algorithm update, Google gets even better at rewarding good content from authoritative people and brands.

Use  Earned Media as an Opportunity to Share More

If you are not repurposing your media coverage for other opportunities, you are missing out big time. The biggest opportunity is to take the coverage that is already written by someone else and use it for promotional or other marketing efforts. Hello! It is already trusted and valued since it is coming from someone else. Extend the life of your media coverage by using earned media as your hub for content.   Boom! There goes your reach by four times.

Earned media maybe new for you, but this concept of earned media is coming up more and more in the last few years. If you’re interested in learning more, Jeremiah Owyang from the Altimeter Group, wrote about the concept of earned media last year in the report, The Converged Media Imperative: How Brands Must Combine Paid, Owned & Earned Media from Altimeter Group Network on SlideShare.

It’s about teaching not telling

I talk a lot about not talking at the market, but with your customers. In order to be a teacher you need to understand the important of listening. Listen to what is going on in your market today. Content Marketing Institute wrote an awesome article about thought leadership and address the importance of understanding what constitutes a remarkable vision, how to effectively capture attention and share it with the masses, and know the steps to take to move from idea to adoption.

Interview clients. Talk with your internal subject matter experts to find out what is going on. The teach your clients about topics that they don’t know about. Share how to make them more successful.

Rachel DiCaro Metscher  has worked with many organizations to build their communications and marketing programs, including Fannie Mae, American Psychological Association, and The Princeton Review. She is currently working in the DC metro area building content marketing programs from the ground up.