There’s a difference between a cohesive narrative and just creating content.
I don’t know about you, but I’m already sick of the word “content.” I must receive dozens of emails every day using the terms content marketing, creation, curation, sponsored content or one of its many other derivations and applications. We’re busy creating content calendars and content maps – all while constantly reminded that the “old” tactics don’t work on their own anymore. But if we really consider the origins of content – and the Content Marketing Institute (CMI) has a great video on the history of content marketing (embedded below) – it’s nothing more than telling a story.
One reason stories are so effective is because they transcend any singular marketing message. In the overstimulated world we live in, people (yes, we’re more than just consumers) still long for connection, and a well-told story can provide just that. Take Red Bull’s active lifestyle magazine, The Red Bulletin, for example. Red Bull uses this platform to showcase stories in sports, culture and lifestyle that promote Red Bull’s brand without directly promoting the product. Some might wonder why Red Bull is investing time and money writing about a world-champion ice climber, music camps in Tokyo or street artists in New Orleans, but these stories all fit within Red Bull’s carefully calculated editorial framework of an active, adventurous lifestyle. And believe it or not, none of these stories involved wings or guzzling tons of Red Bull either. They don’t have to.
Marketers are increasingly turning to storytelling because while banner ads can be scrolled past and commercials can be fast-forwarded, stories seem to remain. They help marketers and brands turn consumers into dedicated, passionate fans who often help do the brand’s work for them. Think about it this way: Apple store employees don’t need to do much to sell their products, as much of that work has already been done by Apple enthusiasts before customers even step foot in the store.
In a world where everything is changing around us, the pure art (and science) of story seems to remain.