By: Doug Pace – Bayshore Solutions Executive Vice President & COO
Over the last few years we have recognized a significant shift in digital marketing. As platforms become more advanced, the level of personalization available has made a marketer’s job very difficult. Google leverages 57 anonymous signals to customize your search returns (even more if you are logged in to your Google account). Facebook pre-filters your news feed so you only see a fraction of the post you are following. Display networks are being taken over by remarketing ads, only showing ads based on your past site visits. As these trends continue, the only way for an organization to truly break out is leverage storytelling to create compelling and creative content!
Storytelling is nothing new and has always been a tool of the most effective marketing teams. These teams look beyond the digital tactics of SEO, PPC, and Social Media. They talk in terms of human emotion, user engagement, and directed paths. Leveraging a collection of visuals, copy, and the previously mentioned tactics, they take their audience on a digital adventure, creating engagement and trust in the brands that they represent.
These skills were almost lost during the rise of the digital age, giving way to scientific worlds leveraging tactics in a robotic manner – looking mostly at analytic data, forgetting the human element necessary in an effective marketing campaign.
So…..How does a marketer start integrating effective story across their current digital campaigns? We take a look at some of the best storytellers and become inspired by some of their techniques. I have always loved Pixar and their approach to storytelling and I frequently refer to their “22 Rules of Storytelling” to spark my imagination.
Pixar’s 22 Rules of Storytelling (via Emma Coats)
- You admire a character for trying more than for their successes.
- Keep in mind what’s interesting to you as an audience, not what’s fun to do as a writer. They can be very different.
- Trying for theme is important, but you won’t see what the story is actually about until you’re at the end of it. Now rewrite.
- Once upon a time there was ___. Every day, ___. One day ___. Because of that, ___. Because of that, ___. Until finally ___.
- Simplify. Focus. Combine characters. Hop over detours. You’ll feel like you’re losing valuable stuff but it sets you free.
- What is your character good at, comfortable with? Throw the opposite at them. Challenge them. How do they deal?
- Come up with your ending before you figure out your middle. Endings are hard, get yours working up front.
- Finish your story, let go even if it’s not perfect. In an ideal world you have both, but move on. Do better next time.
- When you’re stuck, make a list of what wouldn’t happen next. Lots of times the material to get you unstuck will show up.
- Pull apart the stories you like. What you like in them is a part of you; you’ve got to recognize it before you can use it.
- Putting it on paper lets you start fixing it. If it stays in your head, a perfect idea, you’ll never share it with anyone.
- Discount the first thing that comes to mind—and the second, third, fourth and fifth. Get the obvious out of the way. Surprise yourself.
- Give your characters opinions. Passive/malleable might seem likable to you as you write, but it’s poison to the audience.
- Why must you tell this story? What’s the belief burning within you that your story feeds off of? That’s the heart of it.
- If you were your character, in this situation, how would you feel? Honesty lends credibility to unbelievable situations.
- What are the stakes? Give us reason to root for the character. What happens if they don’t succeed? Stack the odds against.
- No work is ever wasted. If it’s not working, let go and move on. It’ll come back around to be useful later.
- You have to know yourself: the difference between doing your best and fussing. Story is testing, not refining.
- Coincidences to get characters into trouble are great; coincidences to get them out of it are cheating.
- Exercise: Take the building blocks of a movie you dislike. How do you rearrange them into what you do like?
- You must identify with your situation and/or characters; you can’t just write “cool.” What would make you act that way?
- What’s the essence of your story? The most economical telling of it? If you know that, you can build out from there.
Bayshore Solutions understands the importance of Story in building the best websites and digital marketing strategies for our customers, so much so that defining and promoting Brand story is a core service offering of our business.
Contact us today to learn how we can help your business develop and use its story more effectively to drive business results.