Storytelling is the heart of any marketing campaign. A great story can imprint a product or service into the minds of audience members, helping to connect with them on a deeply human level.
For marketing efforts to be successful, each brand needs to have a central story that informs all of the content they produce. Many brands’ marketing stories fail because their content lacks coherence; it is not tethered to a central story. Even if the individual pieces of content are brilliant, they don’t work unless they are consistent in theme, tone, and style.
While storytelling represents the core of every marketing campaign, it is not the first step. Before you can start telling a great story, you need to develop a clear strategy. Unfortunately, many businesses skip this step, diving into their marketing efforts without an over-arching plan. They simply create content and post it, hoping that it performs well and reaches the right target audience. This eagerness to dive right in is understandable, yet experience proves time and again that it is the wrong approach.
One Step at a Time
At Lexicon, storytelling is at the core of everything we produce – which is why a clear and coherent strategy must be in place before we start creating original content for our clients. This planning stage takes a close collaboration between the different teams within Lexicon, as well as with the client. It requires back and forth communication, brainstorming, and research on the best approaches to take. Because of the complexity of this process, we usually insist that the first month of any contract be dedicated to strategy development.
We spend the first month working learning about and understanding the brand, its history, key people, visual identity, tone of voice, audience segments, competitors, and so on. Lexicon researches this information in depth, so that we can craft a powerful and consistent story and target it to the right audience. Once developed, a strong strategy can last for years with only cosmetic changes, extending across all existing forms of media and any new ones that may gain popularity in the future.
A strategy allows for content to be planned for weeks and months in advance, giving the relevant creative teams more time to focus on creating great story elements that stand out. Planning ahead also provides more time for any later tweaks or changes to be made. This type of structured effort leads to a final product that both parties can truly be satisfied with, reducing stress for everyone involved.
In essence, a strategy is like a compass. With it, a ship can orient itself towards its objectives, guided by an agreed-upon destination. Without that guidance, however, the ship is likely to set a meandering and inconsistent course, punctuated by internal debate and unresolved issues.
Inconsistencies and errors will arise.
Few things in business are achieved without a clear plan that everyone involved understands and buys into. An initial period of ideation and strategy development lets the whole team work from the same playbook, creating great content that fits perfectly with the larger mission and identity of the company.
Prior to starting a marketing campaign, the objectives – both in the short and long term – must be crystal clear. Different objectives will require different stories. Objectives also provide tangible metrics to track, which indicate whether the campaign is performing well or if changes need to be made.
In today’s social media environment, success means getting the right message to the right customers at the right time. One key element of a content strategy involves audience research – knowing who to reach, and what those potential customer groups are looking for in a company. Success here guarantees that meaningful, cohesive, and engaging stories can be created with specific audiences in mind – and then delivering those stories to the people who need to see them.
Without knowing your audience and what their challenges are, you can’t tell them the right story. Moreover, a one-size fits all model tends to dilute the message to the point where it does not resonate with your target group. While a larger quantity of people can be reached through mass targeting, most of these people won’t be interested because the story isn’t tailored to engage with their own experiences and interests.
The only way to maximize ROI is to target the right audience. Research allows content creators to craft specific messages, or adapting existing ones, to resonate in a meaningful and positive way. Consumers can easily spot the difference between general content and material that is design to appeal to them specifically; 70% of consumers surveyed in this study preferred personalized ads.
For this reason, targeting a mass audience is usually not the best option – especially when it comes to sponsored posts. By identifying a specific target market in advance, a marketing campaign can deliver its content the group most likely to be impacted by the message. Limiting the audience allows for the better use of funds, and vastly improved ROI.
Successful stories need to show how a product or service can add meaning to people’s lives. This purpose is what engages the consumer, by establishing a true value proposition.
The power of storytelling comes from the relatable human element it adds to any campaign. Storytelling lets customers feel like they know the characters, the problems they share, and the solutions they are both seeking. However, this level of connection takes time to develop. It needs to be planned out beforehand with the help of a strong central story. Jumping into a digital marketing campaign without establishing a ‘why’ will lead to ineffective and inconsistent messaging.
A strategy keeps the purpose connected to the true needs of your customers, ensuring that a clear and effective message gets across with every piece of story being produced. With each morsel of consistent and complementary content, the brand’s style and messaging are reinforced, creating a sense of familiarity that people can feel in connection to your brand. Underlying it all is a deeper purpose that your customers can relate to on a personal level.
Purchasing is strongly linked with emotions. Successful conversion requires engaging the right emotions and desires. By crafting a recognizable style that people can come to feel comfortable with, your stories will become increasingly effective in their delivery over time.
Consistency also means developing a well-planned content calendar – another key part of any campaign strategy. By keeping track of what gets posted and when, businesses can guarantee that the right content gets posted at the right time, with reassuring regularity. Being able to visualize future content strategy also helps your brand keep content organized and on schedule.
By visualizing every aspect of content all in one place, the entire planning effort becomes far easier. The key elements – such as dates, CTA, and topics to cover – are all easily tracked in one place, ensuring that nothing is left out or neglected. Visualization also helps ensure that the content will always be in line with the underlying objectives.
Content calendars can also assist tracking measurements. Do social media posts on a particular day perform better than others? Do particular types of content perform especially well? These patterns help to focus resources on strengths while fine-tuning areas of weakness. Content calendars also clearly show any gaps that may need to be filled ahead of time, so that the team has plenty of time to plan the needed solution. Naturally, the schedule can be adapted to reflect the best performing patterns.
The clarity offered by content calendars can also allow for content synchronization with holidays and other anticipated public events. Moreover, once dates of publication are set for each piece of content, due dates becomes much clearer, giving both parties a better picture of the amount of time available to create the best stories possible. This process ensures that nothing gets done at the last minute, and enough time is left for internal feedback before it is time to go live.
At Lexicon, our content creation efforts typically involve several departments – from writing and editing, to graphics and video production, to social media work. Together with our contacts on the client’s side, most of our Digital PR and branded storytelling campaigns involve 20 or more people.
If we were to simply jump into a campaign without planning, we could not possibly tell the best story. The results would be inconsistent, with no obvious objectives to aim for or to measure. Due to the number of people involved, key details could fall through the gaps and errors may arise. In short, one hand would not know what the other was doing.
A clear strategy document solves all of these problems.
With a central strategy in place, the underlying goals and objectives become clear. Collaboration and planning bring far better results, leading to higher quality more impactful stories. By investing in strategy prior to content creation, our clients will receive the best results for their multimedia storytelling and Digital PR objectives. The slight delay in initial publication is more than justified by the results, as a strategy document lets us hit the ground running while maintaining a great pace.
Digital PR strategy is typically priced around 300,000 THB, but Lexicon clients receive this service for free during their first month of working with us, provided they sign up for an annual subscription to our services.