Did you know that leftover sandwiches can turn your lights on? That people in Birmingham are frying their sausages on gas made from their own poo? Or that aeroplanes can fly on algae? A few years ago I undertook an experiment by publishing two identical stories with very different headlines. The first used "poo-power" and the second used the more technical name, "biogas". It seems wildly more people love a bit of poo.
Research shows we all cherish a good story. We love to laugh and cry, to be inspired and entertained. For a brand, storytelling is an easy way to build trust, cement expertise and define thought-leadership. There's barely a company out there now that doesn't have a blog on its website. Yet so many pass-by unnoticed. They're wasted opportunities to engage with customers, garner their thoughts, entertain them, steer their decision-making and ultimately get them to tell their friends how great you are.
Stories are told and re-told across countless portals, all scurrying over themselves to offer a unique stance. Be the one that gets the scoop, that fabulous piece of original, impactful content that everyone else will be desperately trying to match and follow. In the world of content it pays to be different, to be risky and ambitious, the leader and not the follower. Here’s why:
Marketers that have prioritized blogging are 13 times more likely to have a positive return on investment.
79% of marketers say their organizations are moving to branded content, and 60% of marketers already use content marketing on a weekly basis. The competition is getting stiff.
Website conversion rate is nearly 6x higher when content marketing is used.
Kraft Foods generates the equivalent of 1.1 billion ad impressions a year and a four times better return on investment through content marketing than through targeted advertising.
Articles and videos are still the most popular format for consumers to view content and heart-warming, inspirational and real-life stories top the list for engagement. When devising an impactful content strategy, here are a few top tips to consider:
Know your audience, what makes them tick, and how to reach them. You can use a number of different channels to package different parts of your story.
Generate content that either leverages an emotion or adds value. It can be a form of escapism so make people laugh, or inspire them with real-life tales. Equally, there's nothing like a handy "how-to".
Use your customers as well as industry experts to produce content. For example, ask your fans to share stories, photos and videos, or partner up with popular writers and bloggers to simultaneously tap into their fan base too.
Invest in quality, not quantity.
Make it easily shareable. Thanks to social media, punchy infographics and quirky videos can reach hundreds of thousands of people in just a few hours. SEO and keywords can take months to make a dent in traffic.
Put yourself in your customers' shoes. What makes your brand unique and what would you love to know more about?
Be daring, be innovative and do what your competitors haven’t. Always ask yourself: "Do I have something no-one else has?"
Now it's my turn to get your mind whirring with some truly inspirational examples:
The automaker commissioned British author William Boyd to devise an adventure thriller, "The Vanishing Game," that tells the story of an actor that sets-off on a suspense-fuelled driving escapade across the U.K. The story is brought to life online through videos, photos, animations and narrative, all littered with clickable keywords to videos that show Land Rovers in action. The brand also used its "#WellStoried" hashtag to gather snippets of content from Land Rover owners describing their own journeys.
To cement its footprint in the travel world Marriot earlier this year launched an online destination magazine, "Marriot Traveler," that delivers fantastic tips and tricks from freelance journalists and video bloggers. Recognising many of its customers travel for business as well as pleasure, the content targets both tourists and worker bees alike. The group also produced a short film, "Two Bellman," that's had more than five million Youtube views since March.
Surprisingly there are some earthlings amongst us that don't believe a meagre homo sapiens has ever actually set foot on the moon -- it's all just one fantastic hoax. NVDIA, a visual computing company that makes games and movies, sought to debunk this outlandish conspiracy theory using a photo of Buzz Aldrin (the second man to step on the moon), and some smart analysis that utilized and showcased its expertise.