We all love a good story.
Some take a classic form – a beginning, middle and then an end. Some start at the end and end at the start. Some even stop in the middle, and leave you to guess the end. Regardless of form, they entertain, inspire, intrigue and allow you to wonder, says Graham Deneys.
None of this happens by coincidence – it’s all planned, carefully orchestrated to ensure a particular result. The flow is plotted against other elements – paragraphs and images align perfectly – it might not be overtly noticeable on the surface but subconsciously your brain is applauding this moment.
As humans it is this very subconscious that screams for more, when digesting the various forms of content that exist out there, begging for a story, something entertaining or even intriguing to the pleasure receptors.
This thought process has occupied my marketing mind for quite some time now. I’ve been searching for something without being 100% sure of what it was until a coffee meeting with an old friend flipped a switch in my mind. He produces content for a living (he makes magazines) so I used the opportunity to pick his brain regarding the production of content and the notion that brands are becoming “publishers”.
In chatting to him it became crystal clear that we aren’t just publishing content with a planned outcome in mind – we are in fact telling stories that have the same genetic blueprint that any good story should have. We’re delivering content sets threaded together to tell a beautiful story with a particular goal in mind. We’ve become journalists, editors and the uncle at the campfire that used to tell ghost stories before you went to bed.
This realisation raises a question around the quality, credibility and masterful storytelling capability of our brand content.
For example, as much as I enjoy writing and taking photos of various objects or people, I’m not a journalist, and certainly not an editor. There are many highly experienced and enviably skilled storytellers out there who through years of studies and experience are trained in knitting elements and assets together with such skill that they’re able to tell a specific story that educates, entertains and inspires whilst delivering perfectly against the brand’s aim.
This poses the question – if content is so important, why are we as brands and marketers not using the best in the business to tell our stories for us across all of our platforms?
After all, what we have to work with is not unlike the multiple touch-points that exist on the pages of a magazine. Where we have Twitter and Facebook, they have contents and features. We refer to ‘content calendars’ – they call it pagination. Our four posts a week are their page 23 or a spread.
Surely these wordsmiths should be telling our brand stories for us, weaving our DNA into content that captures attention through planned moments seamlessly –even subliminally – taking consumers neatly from one brand touch point to the next. Through collaboration with these experts, we are able to not only capture our consumers and retain their attention but enchant them at the same time.
Such a huge opportunity exists to morph these existing specialised skills with our brand requirements. As our marketing landscape changes and consumers expect more, we have the ability to deliver against this expectation through leveraging the talent of the wordsmiths with whom we partner.
The skills of a qualified content creator and storyteller in our daily digital communications have become absolutely vital to landing a credible story that not only captures attention but retains it too.
Of course, I’m not suggesting that we move away from content calendars, rather we need to view this task differently and cast a fresh new light on the subject matter. With a master craftsman at the helm, we can create a beautiful narrative for our brands that consumers will want to come back to. The very same reason they are happy to pay for a good book or get that fuzzy feeling when they buy their favourite monthly magazine fresh from the shelf.
Graham Deneys is strategy director for Carat CPT and SSA
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