A Great Brand Story Alone Won’t Guarantee Marketing ROI

April 4, 2018 Jonathan Crowl

Hay bales pulled by tractor

Brand storytelling is the next generation of content marketing, and creating a compelling brand story is important. But the story on its own can’t guarantee strong marketing ROI.

Just as traditional content marketing can’t succeed without a well-designed distribution strategy, brand storytelling requires a framework to support this complex, multifaceted marketing effort. A great brand story is useless unless you know how to tell that story, and marketing this brand story is a waste of time if you don’t know how to measure returns and adjust your approach.

When it comes to creating a strategy for telling brand stories, the stories themselves are often the last piece of the puzzle. You first need to understand three essential components that support the story: the people, the process, and the technology.

Without these three essential components, a brand story is just that—a story. The underlying structures represent the “telling” part of brand storytelling. Here’s a look at how to build a framework that makes storytelling possible and offers a strong return on investment.

The People

Storytelling isn’t the domain of content creators alone. Everyone on your marketing team is involved in telling brand stories, because all marketing channels need to work in concert with the story being told.

Consistency across content is critical, and it doesn’t stop with marketers. Sales must make sure their approach to prospects aligns with the way the brand positions itself through story. The C-suite must also buy into these storytelling narratives, since they’re often the face of the company and play a critical role in lending their voice in support of branded stories.

On a more granular level, strategists must be involved in building a game plan for using content to tell a story. It’s not as simple as creating assets to distribute online: According to Think with Google, brand story content needs to target active attention and engagement from their audience. Impressions are a weak metric when gauging storytelling ROI because they don’t reflect the impact being made on your audience. Strategists will help identify opportunities, in the form of content, angle, mediums, partnerships, and data-driven insights, to get the most from your content and ensure your brand’s story is hitting home.

Team collaboration

The Process

Increasingly, organizations committed to telling brand stories are taking a collaborative approach to creating content. This collaboration includes both internal collaborative projects and collaboration with your audience.

Internally, collaborative storytelling re-envisions content creation as a team sport. Instead of assigning projects individually to marketers, employees organize into teams and communicate with one another to brainstorm possibilities and coordinate their approach.

One manifestation of collaborative content creation is the brand newsroom: Team members work together to identify storytelling opportunities, involve several different minds and perspectives, and accelerate the process from conception to publication, allowing them to act quickly and decisively to respond to topics in a timely manner. These newsrooms are able to implement a turnkey approach to creating content—whether it’s content for social media, the company blog, or the brand’s YouTube channel.

Collaboration can also refer to bringing in internal subject matter experts to assist in creating storytelling assets, such as IT experts to discuss security considerations about a new software.

Many brands ultimately aspire to a storytelling process that directly involves the audience: By listening to your target audience and engaging in a dialogue, brands can drive two-way engagement that enhances the authenticity and influence of their storytelling efforts. This often manifests itself in the form of user-generated content, which a number of brands have utilized to harness the advocacy of their audience to collaborate on content that tells their brand’s story. Influencer marketing is another example of collaboration.

Ultimately, the process requires an easy-to-follow map for how a preliminary idea evolves into a finished asset, and how that asset integrates into your storytelling strategy. This process helps ensure consistency in your content, harmonizing the story across every marketing channel.

Office with computer

Image attribution: Alesia Kazantceva

The Technology

Today’s brand storytelling strategies harness a wide range of technologies to execute their vision while measuring and optimizing their marketing ROI.

Every serious storytelling effort requires basic technology at its disposal. Typically, this includes a content management system, collaboration tools, and analytics to track your performance over time.

With storytelling taking place across so many mediums, it’s also important for your analytics solutions to offer next-generation marketing mix modeling, which will help optimize your strategy, your spending, and your ROI over time. The same goes for cross-media analytics tools.

Artificial intelligence is gaining traction as a tool for identifying the best content at your disposal, as well as the best delivery method. AI can assist in delivering a customized mix of stories to the individual user, personalizing the storytelling experience while gathering next-level insights that will inform a smarter strategy going forward.

With analytics tools helping clarify your success as a storyteller, the ROI for these efforts should be easy to see. But this ROI is the end result of a detailed strategy outlining how your company will orchestrate these efforts and manage a wide range of processes taking place alongside one another.

Like any marketing strategy, storytelling needs to get results to prove the value of its investment. But that proof only comes after you’ve done your homework on people, process, and technology to build a framework for success.

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Featured image attribution: Gozha Net

The post A Great Brand Story Alone Won’t Guarantee Marketing ROI appeared first on The Content Standard by Skyword.

About the Author

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