The Monday after the weekend of the week we had a few days off, which was after the weekend of the week we had a few days off. Is anyone else feeling slightly jetlagged? And also, Happy New Year! I feel like I had just gotten comfortable with 2014, how the four looked at the end of the date on documents and paperwork. And now it's gone, leaving us all feeling slightly left behind for the first few weeks of this new year.
But isn't that always the case? Life is moving quickly, and it's easy to feel as though we're always in a constant state of catch-up. In marketing, the desire is to create something meaningful and lasting, one that not only moves our audience to a new way of feeling but also reaches the masses, becomes word of mouth, goes viral. And yet we're in this mindset of 'more more more' when it comes to content, trying to stay consistent and relevant. It's that old rock and the hard place, pitting our good intentions against meaningful, memorable storytelling.
The past few years, last year in particular, there was a shift in marketing to the idea of storytelling. Major brands led the charge, producing such memorable tales as the 'sullen kid is sentimental family member' in Apple's holiday commercial ('Misunderstood'). And if you missed this touching spot for Extra gum, you'll wonder how you could have ever thought of their product as anything other than the bond between a daddy and a daughter. And there isn't one person online who hasn't seen (and wept over) this spot from Budweiser's Super Bowl campaign. Hello more than 54 million views. (By the way, that song is by Passenger, in case you were still calling it the 'Budweiser puppy song' like I have been.)
It's no longer about the product - it's about how the product can play a part in the story of our lives. Since the first campfire, there has been a fascination with a good story. Of who could spin the biggest tale, or bring uneasiness with a scary plot, or move an audience to tears of recognition by relating something so completely, well, relatable. We want to live these kinds of stories in our own lives - this is what makes storytelling so enticing. We want to be a part of the best stories. And this is where storyteller marketing finds its home.
For 2015, in addition to whatever regular resolutions you annually attempt (you don't really want to give up coffee, do you?), make these resolutions for your business marketing.
· Be present. If you've set your social media management on auto-shuffle, it's time to rethink what your real intentions are. Sure, you want to stay in the newsfeed, but make your place in line worthy by doing your research, putting in some good planning time, and following through. Put some of your budget toward bigger content pieces that have a higher chance of virility than several smaller pieces combined, i.e. a video campaign or a downloadable guide for your site. Stay aware of what's working, and fix (or nix) the pieces that aren't.
· Be honest. Your average everyday customer is just that: average. Don't try to portray yourself or your business as a superhero, but as someone that the average customer can find a connection. Everyone has great moments, and these are part of your story too. But people appreciate the 'hometown' or the humble start-up roots of the big company. Humanizing your story will make it all the more appreciated.
· Be original. There can only be so many top ten articles, only so many ways to skin a Grumpy Cat. What's the new way to tell the story? What's the way that no one is telling it yet? The creative medium may reach a limit, but the perspective doesn't have to. Creativity will always win.
· Be ahead. If you're serious about telling the best stories online, you have to accept that this industry is constantly changing and evolving. The online space is still the wild west in some ways, where different groups have different rules (and algorithms), and those that survive do so because of informed intuition. Just think if you'd known ten years ago what you do now. Content marketing great Arnie Kuenn says it best: "The best time to start content marketing was 5 years ago, the second best time is today." And don't limp in or wait to see what your competitors do. Go all in.
Final resolution? Let 2015 be your year. In your work and at home, in business success, in time with friends and family, or spent on hobbies and the pursuit of your passions. Make it so that when next year rolls around, you have an incredible story to tell.
Laura Holloway is the owner and Chief Storyteller of The Storyteller Agency. She lives in Blue Mountain Beach with her husband, James, and their four (yes, four!) dogs - Dexter, Barney, Curdog and Tate. She enjoys driving her Vespa along the Emerald Coast on Highway 30-A, playing music, stand up comedy and improv theatre, yoga, old-fashioned correspondence, travels with friends, classic rock music, trying new recipes using whatever happens to be growing in the garden, and laughing as much as possible everyday. And she loves a good story.