The power of storytelling

Last Wednesday TV3 held a breakfast briefing in Fire Restaurant. As part of this, Tom Fishburne gave us a really interesting insight into being a marketoonist and how we should always bring our brand activations back to Storytelling.

He began his presentation with some insight into what his experience has shown him over the years, talking about being in rooms where a big idea was being thought up and then when asked what the story is behind it the generic response is “I’ll figure it out later”. The biggest thing to note is that a powerful story can punch well above its weight and we should not get distracted by every shiny new fad – always go back to the story of the brand and analyse how compelling it is.

Within his presentation, Tom Fishburne took us through 5 things to thing about when we are storytelling.

1. There’s no longer a captive audience

The traditional way of marketing has changed as media channels have evolved and expanded. Our audience is now so fragmented that where there used to be a few discrete channels to get your message out, there are now so many avenues and we need to be able to identify these and tell our story in the right place at the right time to consumers. With this media fragmentation also comes a lot of clutter making it easy for a consumer to move on from your story to someone else’s. We need to make sure we are compelling from start to finish to keep our audience attention.

2. Avoiding the “crap trap”

We need to avoid falling into the trap of creating irrelevant content and make sure we are continuing to tell stories rather than adding to the clutter. We need to continuously raise the bar and make sure that everything we put out there to our target audience is relevant and engaging

3. You can’t cut through the clutter by adding to it

Within this he used an example of “Method” cleaning products, a brand he once worked for and launched in the US and UK with extremely low budgets. He spoke about the importance of being different here and standing out in your own right as the key to success. Method did this through different and guerrilla type advertising and events along with the construction of their product and packaging so it would stand out on the shelf in store. He spoke about not ordering off the standard menu and using a marketing template for everything we do. We need to break the “checklist mentality” and be brave by doing something different to tell brand stories.

4. Marketing is too important to be left to just the marketing department

This was a really great insight into how we should all be involving all stakeholders in our ideas and activations. He gave an example where one marketing team in the US made their lawyers part of the team. This way they could be brave from start to finish with their full involvement in projects. A great point was made in that we always second guess ourselves and what will get through legal or regulations teams. Once we bring the final version to them, it has often been edited so much by marketing teams that we end up with a watered down story rather than having all stakeholders present from start to finish to actually input on the story being told. The path of least resistance is often the safest route but not always the right route.

5. Make your story the story about the audience itself

People want to share stories about themselves and as marketers we want to create powerful stories that people want to share. Your story should make your brand the hero of the audience. One example used here was of Betabrand, a clothing brand that creates items that allow consumers to tell their own stories. They create a new product story every week and have built their business out of promotions being 1% about the product and 99% fiction.

This presentation really clicked with all marketers in the room and reinforced the importance of thinking further into the message your brand needs to deliver and the story it has to tell. Every brand has a story, we just all need to make sure we are pushing to find this and delivering the best of the best in our marketing activations.