Don't Talk At Customers: Share Authentic & Relevant Stories

February 22, 2018 Anjali Yakkundi

Customers today are inundated with advertisements—it’s gotten to the point where many are immune to most types of advertising. Think of how many times you’ve muted the television during commercials, installed ad blockers, or ignored banner ads on web pages. Forrester data shows that today, 50% of US online adults actively avoid ads on websites. Marketers feel the frustration, as Forrester data also shows the click-through rate for display ads is only 0.35%!  It’s become so bad that even Google –who makes significant dollars on ads— now automatically blocks annoying advertisements via Google Chrome.

Instead, customers want a more personal, relevant conversation with brands, not the type of one-way dialogue prevalent today. These changing expectations mean that marketers can no longer market at customers: they must create meaningful relationships with customers. Stories and storytelling will be critical for this new wave of marketing. To create impactful stories, marketers must:

  • Create emotional connections. Creating emotional connections is essential to reaching customers at a more personal, relevant level. It enables brands to not only stand out amongst the sea of brand messages, but help brands foster long-term, meaningful relationships with customers. These more loyal customers spend up to 10 times more on your business than new customers. Brands like Patagonia, L.L. Bean, and REI drive these connections by creating a community of like-minded outdoor enthusiasts. Other brands, like LEGO, create a community centered around learning and creativity.
  • Bring authenticity to the story. Creating emotional connections doesn’t mean just showing some heartstring-pulling montages. Think of all those babies we saw in Super Bowl commercials—whether they had anything to do with the brand or not! Authentic stories are critical to connecting with customers and creating meaningful conversations. 
  • Put yourselves in the customer’s shoes. Stories must not just be emotional and authentic, they must be empathetic. Marketers today must put themselves in their customers’ shoes. At Aprimo, we are always thinking about how marketers’ challenges relate to our own challenges and try to create stories with those pain points in mind.
  • Be memorable. Stories that are memorable have longevity. Dove’s Real Beauty campaign, Apple’s Mac vs. PC campaign, Verizon’s “Can You Hear Me Now,” and the Old Spice Guy campaign are some examples. Old Spice and Verizon were so memorable that other brands have taken to playing off their campaigns. In Old Spice’s case, it was an unrelated brand (though also another P&G brand)—Tide—and in Verizon’s case it was a direct competitor—Sprint.  

As these stories become more important, more organizations are investing in content marketing. Forrester data shows that 1/5th of marketing staff is now devoted to content production. At Aprimo, we believe this rise of content marketing is coming fast, and content marketing budgets and staff will continue to increase  We will soon launch more capabilities to support content marketing teams, so stay tuned!

About the Author

Anjali Yakkundi

Anjali is a product marketing director at Aprimo, and looks after the strategy, go to market, positioning, and messaging for the Marketing Productivity, Plan and Spend, and Digital Asset Management products. Prior to joining Aprimo, she spent 8 years at Forrester Research where she covered the marketing technology, eCommerce, and digital agency spaces.

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