Evolving stories FROM: Mass Media Push TO: Engaging Relationships

Theme #2 From 7 Part post series exploring The Evolution of Brand Stories & Themes



As human beings, we know that aggressive communication doesn’t bring people closer.  Instead, it repels most people away and undermines the chance for dialogue and relationship.   Yet somehow when it comes to the communication and marketing of brands, this very basic human principle is perceived as a weak and ineffective approach to building business.   In brand marketing the merits and impact of mass media align more with the concepts and success principles of manufacturing than that of human/social dynamics.

Before social networks, mass media was the only option businesses had to market and connect their brands to people.  This “pay to play” business model defined successful brand connections as the result of more aggressive tactics, larger media budgets and ubiquitous market presence.    This approach meant that not only could a brand be “top-of-mind.”  But it can also buy its way into people’s lives– welcomed or not.  From a mass media perspective, this dominating level of brand presence represented “success.”    Contrast this with social networks wherein power is derived not from strength of force, but from the strength of emotional engagement and relationships.  The growing influence of social media is proof that there is another, and even more powerful way, of connecting brands to people.  Social networks are a reminder to all that quality – not quantity, of connections can make all the difference. 

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It’s Not Just Big Data, It’s The Right Big Data That Matters Most

This past July Econsultancy issued a report which made reference to the fact that Big Data is causing big frustrations for those who make their living in the marketing world. The sub-headline that appeared on their site in announcing the report read: “Big data has become something of a buzzword over the past year or so, but is it actually useful?”

Well I happen to think Big Data is useful alright but only if it’s the right Big Data. I mean you can’t just have data just for the sake of having data, yes?big data

One company has found that leveraging a more accurate, scientific approach based on big data can help marketers socialize their data — giving them a way to understand and leverage their customers’ and prospects’ real-world relationships to substantially improve customer acquisition, cross-sell and retention.

In other words, identify the right Big Data.

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Why I Asked Ted Rubin To Co-Host Realtime Marketing Lab On October 14 ~via @tonia_ries

Realtime Relationships: Why I Asked Ted Rubin To Co-Host Realtime Marketing Lab On October 14

Originally posted at The Realtime Report September 11, 3013

Realtime Marketing is about many things: the right analytics tools to surface and prioritize conversations. A content strategy that lets you curate and manage dynamic streams of content. Connecting with communities that are distributed across many different platforms. Platforms and strategies to engage fans and turn them into brand advocates. An organizational structure that makes it possible for employees (and customers) to collaborate across functional areas to serve customer needs.

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The magic of a spec

“If I build this, will it delight you?”

Time spent building a spec that gets a ‘yes’ to this question is always time well spent. The spec describes what victory feels like, not necessarily every element of what’s to be built. A spec is an agreement before the agreement, it moves the difficult job of getting in sync with your client from the end of the process to the beginning.

Creatives of every stripe are so happy to get the assignment, so eager to get to work that we often forget to agree on what we’re setting out to do in the first place. It’s fun to nod your head and say, “I understand,” but even something as simple as cooking dinner deserves a few more moments of interaction before the knives are sharpened and the oven is turned on.

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Evolving stories FROM: Corporate Size & Stats TO: The People Within

Humanizing Storytelling for Business & Brands: Evolution theme #1


“There can be no vulnerability without risk; there can be no community without vulnerability; there can be no peace, and ultimately no life, without community.”  – M. Scott Peck

The traditional stats such as the number of employees, office locations and number of years in business used to be the lead-in, if not the main points in a corporate introduction and story.   Phrases such as “In business since..” or “the largest manufacturer of…” was often believed to provide credibility by its very declaration.  Thereby commanding respect from others.  Employees were usually referred to as a number or in general and in aggregate form.  The typical exceptions for highlighting an employee by name was reserved for the prominent leaders that businesses felt should be of interest to investors and the public.

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Seven Ways to Humanize Storytelling for Business & Brands

New post series by Anneliza Humlen @ADHumlen exploring the evolution of storytelling and themes.


“Storytelling reveals meaning without committing the error of defining it” – Hannah Arendt

Prior to the emergence of social networks, brand stories would typically unfold as a controlled narrative told from the perspective and interests of the business/brand.   As traditional media such as TV, print and digital brought such stories to life, distinct traditions formed in how stories were communicated and the content of the stories themselves.   The combination of absolute control and the limits imposed by such traditions, would often limit the growth and appeal of the stories.  Many of the story themes that were once regarded best practice and believed to be useful, we now know via social media as ineffective in generating meaningful and enduring interest.   The new tradition of storytelling for business/brands evolves from what “THEY (corporation) want people to know,” to the stories that people can relate to on a human level.  The story themes that support a more “human” centered form of storytelling have now become the  “new traditions” in growing business/brand interest.

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Make every piece of social content count

I hate the phrase ‘content is king.’ Content isn’t king. Content is as common as dirt, and there’s far too much of it about. If you really think the world is waiting for your brand to pump more ‘visual creativity’ into the space, you are deluded.

We want to see pictures, stories and opinions from friends, family and independent, likeminded strangers. The last thing we need is more white noise from brands who make the following statements in their weekly content meetings:

“Let’s make sure we push all that out in social too.”

“Tell the intern what you’re doing so she can put it on Facebook.”

“We need to be relevant. We should definitely do a Wimbledon/summer festivals/Egyptian riots themed quiz.”

“But people can never get enough pictures of cats/food/Cara Delevingne.”

However. There is a place for brand-created content in social, as long as every single piece is designed to serve a purpose and provoke a reaction. We’re not talking retweets or likes. We’re talking about three simple categories:

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Putting ‘The EX’ Back Into EXperiential

Every year in Toronto the summer ends with the Canadian National Exhibition running the last two weeks of August until Labour Day. For the first time in 30 years I decided to venture down in search of effective examples of experiential marketing and there were many to be found. In fact I’d say that many marketers are missing out on key branding and customer acquisition opportunities by not taking advantage of this annual event.CNE logo_large
First off let’s be clear, it’s been years since I’ve been to the  (CNE).  This wasn’t always the  case, in fact some of my earliest memories are of my Mother loading up all the kids and making the road trip from Burlington in the 1960’s. In the 1970’s I saw many classic concerts at the CNE Grandstand including T-Rex, Three Dog Night, The Guess Who, Emerson Lake & Palmer and The Beach Boys only to name a few. My CNE highlight had to be going backstage to meet RUSH and having a smoke with Neil Peart when we stepped out of the trailer to escape all the girls going ga-ga over Geddy Lee.

In the 1980’s, 90’s and since 2000 ‘The Ex’ and I went separate ways, not with any intention, we just drifted apart. But that was then and this is now, we’ve come back together so let’s dive into some of the experiential marketing seen at this year’s CNE.

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