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.
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.