Happy Friday Fix Day! It’s the first Fix of November, which we all know what that means: it means that at least five people on your social media account are posting something they’re thankful for everyday; the Starbucks red cup is back; and altruism is at an all time high. After all, the end of each calendar year gives cause for us to reflect: on what we’re thankful for, one what we have, and on what we want to do for others. As content marketers, this is something we should do year-round (that is, share our passion for a given cause with our audience), but if you’re not already, no worries…this week’s Fix covers how to incorporate your cause into your content marketing (after all, tis the season). In addition to cause marketing, this week we talk about riffs on storytelling including story-sharing and story-selling. So, grab a something comforting to sip on and get ready for story time, Friday Fix style!
Brace yourselves, readers, we have predictions for the upcoming new year, which is fitting. Most pundits tend to agree on what’s going to be standing the test of time. In this piece, Tahir Akbar endorses visuals, personalization, avoiding duplication, being mobile-friendly, being relevant, and cross-platform content marketing. Tahir also highlights that customers as storytellers is going to be happening in 2016. What does he mean? He means telling your brand story from the customer POV.
Per Melissa Andrews, story-selling and storytelling aren’t mutually exclusive; story-selling is selling with stories, which means that marketing and sales can (and should) come together in that marketing creates the structure and sales tells the story. To accomplish this, Melissa advises designing content with a modular or “building block” approach. The four parts are: creation, distribution, use, and effectiveness. Melissa breaks down and discusses each step of story-selling with modular content making it seem conceptually easier to assemble than Legos in the ‘90s (all I could ever build was a square on that patch of green “lawn”, so…yeah.).
As one with incurable wanderlust, Dan Peltier’s article on how influencers and story-sharing are doing a world of legwork to help travel brands reach goals makes complete sense. The way this works is a little out-of-the-box compared to traditional models of brand identity and voice. Rather, these brands rely on things like social sharing of user-generated content (i.e., photos or stories) or of influencers and micro-influencers (such as a blogger with a lot of local recognition) to help a brand achieve reach and / or engagement goals. Even if you’re not a travel brand, story-sharing can play a role in your social reach or engagement; check out this piece to better-understand how.
If you’re like me, your favorite (and possibly most shameful) memories always involve having one or two of the most important people in your life around because funny things become hilarious, good ideas become brilliant ideas, and unlikely accomplishments become possible when you’re engaged with the people you integrate best with (also, if there’s wine, but that might just be me). So, per Lizzie McQuillan, the same concepts of integration apply to content marketing and your brand. If you can find your brand BFFs, the sky’s the limit.
Using a hypothetical narrative approach, Bernard Segarra clearly illustrates exactly how telling a story using data works. Fundamentally, it’s very much like any other effective storytelling approach in that you’re adapting to the audience, creating emotional impact, and incorporating visuals. The difference? There’s data (importantly data have to be contextualized and limited because too much information will overwhelm the audience and will have no meaning.)
Technically, this piece by Jonathan Chan is over a week old, but if you struggle with storytelling, have trouble working with plot, or want to better understand technique, then there’s no better way for you to grasp essential concepts than by understanding the 3-act structure (setup / rising action / new status quo; confrontation / climax; falling action / resolution). To illustrate this, Chan breaks down Star Wars in a three-act timeline before further explaining his process and how he incorporates this knowledge into storytelling where you, the content marketer, are the mentor (so, you’re Obi-Wan) and your audience is a young and eager-to-learn Mark Hamill (offer them lightsabers and they will come). It’s well worth the read.
Stephen Roda starts this piece off with a quote from Dale Carnegie, which makes the point that the only way to get a person to do something is by making them want to do it. Currently, I’m working on doing this with my two year-old and the potty (I have yet to figure out how to make her want to go in the potty, but I want it more than anything); so, think of your audience as a capricious two-year old, and you have to figure out how to get them to use the potty, eat peas, put on pants, etc. If you come off as being too pushy or desperate, they’ll reject you (and throw a fit in the middle of Target). Per Stephen, you have to use a nurturing and relationship-building approach; consequently, this works for audiences and two year-olds alike.
I think we can all agree that the cultural shift has made this revelation (that it’s Business to Human) increasingly apparent over the past year or so (I mean, if the rapidly growing attention to storytelling wasn’t a dead giveaway, I don’t know what was). In this piece, Sanjay Dholakia looks at one of the world’s largest and most successful brands to reveal how defining one’s self with labels (B2B, B2C, jock, nerd, preppy, oh wait, that’s getting off track) is distracting and that instead, we need to just be ourselves and engage on a real and deeper level (read: personalize). After all, you (as an individual) and your customer aren’t one-word definitions, so why should your brand be?
If you’ve been blogging once a week for years, chances are you have one heck of a blog arsenal, right? Now, let’s all agree that not every post is an absolute gem, but some are…some have some really valuable content that can be used. Michael Peggs shares how you can repackage and repurpose those juicy morsels and make a whole new meal out of them. If that metaphor doesn’t work for you, then think of it as re-gifting with style. The key is that you can’t just slap a different bow on the same box; you have to think of a way to re-gift it creatively and meaningfully; it has to be useful for your audience.
The best thing about advice for small business is that it applies (or can apply) to big business, too. In this piece, Sujan Patel illustrates key steps you have to take to get the content marketing ball rolling. First, you need to know your customer. Who are they? What do they want? What do they like and dislike? Do a little market research to find out. Next, know yourself and your message, then create a written plan of action. Sujan highlights things to include in the plan and things to consider (resources, stakeholders, target channels, etc.). If you’re just getting started, this is a great, detailed read that will give you lots of momentum in the right direction.
Have you ever heard the phrase, “You give a little, you get a little?” Well, other than the un-imitable feeling of having done something good for others, when you engage in cause marketing, you’re likely to have another reason to get the warm fuzzies. When you lend your content marketing prowess to a cause you truly believe in and support, it reflects positively on your organization, plain and simple. So, if you’ve got something you believe in and want to find a meaningful way to give back, check out this post and get into the spirit of giving back.
Amy Delcambre is a freelance content and travel writer from Mobile, Alabama with a Master's in Creative Writing. When she's not painting the page with nouns, verbs, and adverbs, she's slaying grammar beasts as a freelance editor and saving the world one sentence fragment at a time teaching university writing classes. In her free time, Amy enjoys cooking, traveling, and testing which plant species best survive prolonged neglect.
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