Archive for July, 2014

Stories Help to Fix Content Marketing Mistakes

Thursday, July 24th, 2014

Are you making any of the four content marketing mistakes recently discussed by best-selling author and executive coach Christine Comaford? One of the four that I wholeheartedly agree with is neglecting to think of your core information as a corporate story (#3 below, conveying facts but missing emotion).

A recent blog posted by Comaford discusses the top four common mistakes people make when developing their content marketing. If you’re committing any of these missteps, you may not be getting the results you want or deserve.

Based on an interview with Amanda Milligan at Fractl (an online marketing agency specializing in engaging and emotional web content on the web), whom Comaford calls a “super brain,” here are the four big mistakes to avoid:

  1. Content that’s too branded
  2. Not getting your audience involved
  3. Conveying facts but missing emotion
  4. Overthinking content and missing context

And, I would add, a fifth mistake you definitely want to avoid: failing to illustrate the benefits of your products or services with relevant stories. Stories help your audience to experience the benefits, and that experience makes a stronger, longer-lasting connection than data can.

The full discussion on Comaford’s blog not only explains each of the four points she focused on, but also offers tips on how to fix or avoid these missteps. What was the most important tip you learned?

Truth Be Told, Your Story Must Reflect Your Culture

Thursday, July 17th, 2014

True StoryDoes your corporate story reflect your company’s values–and your leaders’ behavior? Or are prospective employees told one story, only to see a totally different one enacted after they’ve been onboarded?

With the youngest generations in the workforce expecting to move up quickly, and moving on much more often than previous generations would even consider, companies need more than ever to ensure that the story of their culture is true. If they don’t, they’ll find themselves struggling to compete not only in recruiting the best and brightest, but also in retaining them. As a result, they’ll incur increasingly higher costs due to employee turnover and continuous recruitment.

In a recent worldwide survey, Randstad found that the trait people want most in an employer is honesty (78%). They want to know that the story they’re told is true! The survey of 11,000 prospective employees also found that 71% value reliability and 62% look for financial security.

How does your corporate culture stack up with those traits? Does your core story ring true?

If there’s a disconnect in your stated values and the behavior employees observe, it may be because not everyone is clear on how to enact the values. To ensure alignment of values, mission and purpose with goals, department by department and employee by employee, you need clear, consistent communication. You need a collection of stories that exemplify the desired behavior and show employees how to succeed in the organization.

That’s where Corporate Storytelling comes in. If you’d like to explore how the Storytelling system will help your organization  reflect its true values clearly and consistently, let’s talk!

 

 

6-year-olds Offer Lesson on Managing Change with Story

Thursday, July 10th, 2014

Children can teach adults a lot of lessons about life–if the adults pay attention! One of my favorite lessons on managing change was demonstrated by 6-year-old twins whose father attended one of my Corporate Storytelling workshops for sales managers a few years ago. It’s a story I love to tell because it has all the basic elements of a memorable tale: it’s concise, it’s clear, it begins with a challenge to be overcome, describes how the hero overcomes the challenge, and concludes with a memorable lesson for leaders in any organization–business, nonprofit or family.

Paul Smith, a former Procter & Gamble executive, loves the story, too. He included it in his book, Lead with a Story, and asked me to share it when he interviewed me for a podcast that was broadcast yesterday. It’s a great example of how a meaningful business message can be conveyed in a charming and engaging story that everyone can relate to. We’ve all been children, after all, and we’ve all been faced with change. And sometimes, like one of the twins featured, we haven’t been sure how to handle a change that at first seemed overwhelming. Listen to the podcast here and let us know how you will apply this savvy lesson on change management from two 6-year-olds!

Transmedia A New Approach to Storytelling

Thursday, July 3rd, 2014

“What’s transmedia storytelling?” you may ask, and I’m sure you’re not alone. I hadn’t heard of it until recently, when I discovered Omar Kattan’s blog, “Brand Stories: New Age Brand Building.” As he explains, “Transmedia storytelling  is the technique of telling a single story or story experience across multiple platforms and formats using digital technology.”

But transmedia storytelling isn’t simply telling the same story via different media; it’s telling different elements of a story to various audiences, with details tailored to each audience’s preferences and interests. In a sense, the technique represents a full-fledged communications program with the key message tailored to each audience through multiple formats. And it’s a dynamic process. It invites–and depends on–audience interaction and feedback.

Chipotle’s “The Scarecrow” ad campaign is one example, which Kattan discussed in an earlier post. It won this year’s award for a story-based ad campaign at the Cannes International Film Festival. “The Scarecrow” tells the tale of the hero going to work in a dark, depressing factory owned and operated by a scarecrow’s primary nemesis, a crow. After struggling with the conflict of values and the devaluation of his contribution by an unappreciative employer, the scarecrow overcomes the challenge of his demoralizing grind by transforming himself–and his entire life. Following his heart’s desire to work in the light, fresh outdoors, he quits his job and becomes a farmer. He grows sustainable crops (illustrated by a Chipotle chili and burrito basket), a product he’s proud to take to market.

After releasing the video, which became viral, Chipotle created a game app that educates its audience about industrialized farming. Then, to encourage support for sustainable crops, the app invites viewers to “help the Scarecrow rescue the City of Plenty from Crow Foods.” In essence, as Kattan says, the ad serves as “a mini trailer for the game app.”

It will be fun to see how other advertisers extend their brands by customizing the key messages to different audiences through a variety of technologies. How about you? How can your company convey its corporate culture and values, gain stakeholder support, and better reach its customers with transmedia storytelling?