I admit it. If internet marketing and social media addicts have a 12-step program, then I’m archenemy as full-blown enabler. I’ve encountered people who raise an eyebrow and scoff at brand storytelling as an unnecessary “soft” approach. They argue that, instead, we should be focusing on hard “measurable” tactics such as SEO, keywords, and traffic. But I say, why not both?
Many marketers these days are focused on “performance” of their blogs, landing pages and offers. I, too, have attended webinar after webinar about these very topics. So, fair enough. But here’s the catch: many people get really caught up in this and fail to also focus on the story that people will encounter when they are reached. And, by the way, if you don’t give them a story – then they’ll create one for you! Internet marketing and brand storytelling doesn’t need to be a one-or-the-other proposition. You can have your cake and eat it too. In fact, I think a unified approach will make the cake taste better. Here’s why:
Your story separates you from the pack.
So, if a desired result of great SEO, keyword use and other internet marketing techniques is about “getting found” then what happens when that’s achieved? If you fail to tell your brand story, then you lose out on leveraging your key point of differentiation. Your story is what really makes you unique and holds the key to your natural authenticity. It’s what makes you memorable and believable. With so much white noise, “sameness” and intense competition out there, can you afford to ignore it?
It reminds you to think about your audience.
Creating shared narrative is also an integral part of the marketer’s role as connector. Does what you have to say resonate with meaning and relevance to inspire action? Successfully pulling this off requires thought about the audience: how can you provide them with a means to see themselves as participants in the story? The Whole Foods brand story, for example, provides customers with a way to impact the world. When I buy organic, locally grown food from Whole Foods I’m the hero (wait, I think that makes Whole Foods an enabler too!). And that makes me want to go back again and again. I say any opportunity to think about your audience – and how your brand fulfills their emotionally driven needs and desires — is a good thing that will improve your marketing.
What’s performance all about anyway?
I believe that placing an emphasis on your brand story will enable your internet marketing efforts to shine, making them efficient and effective. Think about keywords for a moment: can the very process of examining your story and its recipient offer clues to help you in the search? I also believe that telling your story through a body of work such as your website, blog, Facebook status updates and Twitter stream, can help people find these golden points of connection. If internet marketing tactics serves up a sales “starter”… maybe story is the “closer?”
So, don’t argue: enable. Tell your brand story to resonate with people, helping them find a role for themselves in the narrative. And use all your best practices in internet marketing to drive them to it. Within this approach is the key to engagement, connection, loyalty and even buzz. And who doesn’t want that result?