I recently had the opportunity to speak at the Modern Marketing Summit Upfront @ Internet Week to discuss the transformation of storytelling. With digital content being consumed in greater amounts and in more varying forms, brands have a greater opportunity to tell their story in intriguing and creative ways. But it also means the definition of storytelling is changing and more is required from brands and their partners to deliver a good story.
A story can be any type of format that creates a connection with a consumer. This can come through brand created, co-created or user created content. The key is consistency of message across various formats and having the ideal understanding of cross-device behaviors to deliver a message at the right time. To achieve this, brands must leverage data to uncover consumer truths, find compelling differences and complete a narrative around those truths. The truth (data) will often reveal the correct medium to tell the story in by uncovering who, what, where and when of the audience. Then, traditional tools of persuasion can be formatted by channel and used to reach the appropriate target audience.
Storytelling must be rooted in consumer behaviors, personalized and relevant across devices. In the digital ecosystem storytelling must be aided by machine learning and artificial intelligence that can look at specific domains and mobile ethnography studies. At Epsilon, we also leverage our proprietary data assets that highlight key behavioral, transactional and affinity based data. This data allows to find unique ways to tell or make a story for our clients. One of the other great assets is our ability to map to individuals across devices. This makes it easier to deliver highly personalized and dynamic creative, allowing us to help brands connect with consumers regardless of where they are in a heavily fragmented media landscape.
The goal of storytelling should be to start or change a conversation, create advocacy and ultimately drive purchase and business outcomes. Data is the fuel of this creative process informing consumer readiness, identifying appropriate audiences and delivering business outcomes through storytelling efforts.
One final thought for brand marketers to consider: in the world of user-generated content marketers must be able to understand context to determine whether they should use storytelling vs. storytelling moments. A great example of this is the recent “Chewbacca Mom” Facebook Live video, which created a highly contextual moment for department store Kohls. Instead of focusing on telling a story, Kohls leveraged this moment as a storymaking opportunity by visiting “Chewbacca Mom” in person and creating their own viral video.
As data and digital help marketers capitalize on personalized storytelling opportunities, context will always remain king.