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Why Marketers Need To Become Storytellers

Why marketers need to become storytellers

Marketing is no longer about campaigns, battles or tactics. It’s more about creating  great content, giving readers value and building long-term engagement.

Robert Rose, Chief Strategist at the Content Marketing Institute, shares his insights on marketing, technology and overcoming language and cultural barriers in our interview.

You have written several times that brands need to be storytellers. What do you think makes a good story from a business point of view?

So, in a broader sense, the way a story differs from an anecdote or plot is that the reader is changed (however subtly) having experienced it. They are better off for having experienced the story. In short: value has been delivered.

And that’s the difference for a brand that is telling a great story vs. one that’s simply selling (plot). A great brand story delivers value to the audience without selling the product or service. So, whatever method I choose – to educate you, make you laugh, make you cry, change your belief, or just simply entertain you – a great story is one that delivers value to the consumer.

Please mention one thing that you would like brands to change in how they perceive digital marketing.

Thinking of marketing in the antiquated “war” focused terms is at best anachronistic and at worst dangerous. It’s a cliché now to talk about how the world of consumer engagement has changed because of digital. But it’s still amazing to me how the process and structure of marketing departments in businesses remain so focused on campaigns, tactics, front lines, guerilla strategies, etc.. Marketing departments themselves have to change.

Undoubtedly modern technology makes it easier for brands to get their message across to consumers . Do you see any negative effects of technology in how companies interact with their clients?

Yes – there’s an over-dependence on it these days as a cure-all for what ails marketing. The thinking is “if we just get a marketing automation system” or “if we just get a social suite” then we’ll be able to be awesome marketers. Today’s marketing department doesn’t lack for any technology or any data. Most marketing technology solutions are used at about 10% of their capability. Marketers have to get good at the technology they have before they buy more of it.

Considering language and cultural barriers, how would you approach content marketing from an international perspective?

Are you suggesting that the American way isn’t the only way?! Ha! In all seriousness though, global content marketing strategies mean a new level of complexities for large organizations (see what I did there, I spelled it with a “z”!). Where we’ve seen success is in a centralised strategy – with local execution. Whether or not there is a language barrier, there are still cultural barriers and it’s almost always better off managed at the local level.

Content marketing has certainly evolved in the last few years. Are there any major changes or trends that you expect to take off in the near future?

Yes, I expect the competency around content creation to become much more prevalent within businesses. Now, it’s not that businesses don’t already know how to create content. No, they are rather like giant grinding machines; churning out mountains of content like confetti. That’s the net result of technology making it easier to publish content to multiple digital channels. Marketers were given a content hammer and made themselves busy hammering nails. But, what’s missing is a strategic, repeatable process for creating quality content that matters. This is a capability and function in the business I expect to become more prevalent over the next few years.

Robert Rose

Robert Rose is the Chief Strategist at the Content Marketing Institute, and a recognised expert in content marketing strategy, digital media and the social web. Robert is also a Senior Contributing Analyst with the Digital Clarity Group, and the Chief Troublemaker for Big Blue Moose. Follow him on Twitter @Robert_Rose.

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