Drew McLellan’s a 25+ year marketing agency veteran who lives for creating “a ha” moments for his clients, clients’ customers, peers and audiences across the land. Sadly, for his daughter, he attempts to do the same thing at home.
Over the years, Drew has lent his expertise to clients like Nabisco, IAMS pet foods, Kraft Foods, Meredith Publishing, Make-A-Wish, and others.
Drew is also one of the world’s top marketing and branding bloggers.
Recently he has appeared in the New York Times, Entrepreneur Magazine, Business Week and Fortune’s Small Business. The Wall Street Journal calls him one of 10 bloggers that every entrepreneur should read.
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The Extreme Small Business Marketing Summit starts Monday, November 3rd. Here's the speaking line up:
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Marketers clearly believe that storytelling is a critical component of their marketing efforts. It's one of the most talked about topics in marketing circles today.
So - no argument that marketing's version of storytelling is critical to a business' communications success. The question is - why are so many companies doing it badly and not experiencing the results they want?
The stories don't evoke an emotion: There's not a memorable story around that isn't seeded in emotions. For some businesses, especially those in the B2B sector, it's hard to imagine what emotions their products or services might trigger. That's because the marketers are staying at the features level of sales, not delving into the benefits that lie beneath.
It might be as simple as your prospect is afraid if they make a bad decision, it will cost them their job. Or it could be that what you sell is helping your clients fulfill their reason for existing - which to them is very emotionally motivated. If you dig deep enough, you'll find the emotions behind your stories. Be sure you expose those in your storytelling so that your audience can relate to and empathize with the people in the tale.
The stories don't use data to lend credibility: What makes true stories so dramatic and grabbing are the facts that are dotted throughout the telling.
Data can be used in a variety of ways to tell your story. Think visual data like an infographic or let the data suggest a new angle or insight for both you and your audience.
The story doesn't take us on a journey: In marketing's version of storytelling, we often take shortcuts to get to the big reveal. But in taking the shortcut, we rob the audience of story's arc. Every story is, in essence, a journey that chronicles the problem, the fight to solve the problem and how things are better once the challenge is resolved.
But a great story lets the journey also help the audience see the motivations, frustrations and worries of the characters while they try to face the problem. The outcomes are also wrapped in more than just the tangible results. When the story is rich with details - we also learn more about the intangible results and ultimate value of delivering the right solution.
The story doesn't include a next step/call to action: Here's where most marketers really miss the boat. A well-crafted story draws the audience in, helps them connect with the main character and feel their common pain. As the story evolves, the prospect is pulling for the character - because in reality, the character bears a striking resemblance to them. They experience the ups and downs within the story and as the story delivers the happy ending - the prospective customer is thinking and feeling relief and a desire to share in that sort of outcome.
So marketing's version of storytelling is all too often, a big tease. You led them right to the edge - get them hungry for what you're selling but don't give them a clear and defined next step. Ask yourself - what do I want them to do next and be sure you make it easy and quick to take that next action.
What do you think? Can you tweak the way you're telling your company's story so that it actually drives leads and generates sales?
If your company is involved in social media, one of the elements you worry about is if you're sharing in the best way. You want to maximize your company's exposure but choosing the best social networks, the best way to communicate and even the best time of day.
Your blog content:
If you aren't using your corporate blog to fuel your social media strategy, you are almost certainly not as effective and efficient as you could be.
If you are sharing great content on social networks that doesn't exist on your blog or content hub, you are missing out on a huge SEO opportunity. If your content is on your blog, it will generate links and social indicators (likes, shares, +1s, etc.) that will benefit your website's domain.
Blog content is permanent - social content is not. Let's say that you posted a great tax tip on Facebook that received hundreds of Likes. When tax time comes around next year, that post will be long gone. However, if you post the tax tip on your blog, you can re-share it year after year. In addition, the tip will be indexed by the search engines and will likely drive search traffic as well.
How you share content influences the your audience's reactions. Here are some suggested copy do's and don'ts as you compose your next update.
It's not just what you say, but when you say it. Timing your social sharing matters.
The fourth quarter is a very busy time for most businesses for several reasons:
That's why it's not all that surprising that you aren't thinking about the sales/activity dry spell that often comes in January and February. You may be the exception to this rule, but for many organizations, the first few months of the year are often the slowest in terms of leads, sales and revenue. That's why you need to plant some marketing seeds right now.
It's usually around the end of January that someone inside the company says, "Wow, our sales are really slow. We'd better do something." They go into a brainstorming session and come up with some sort of promotion, marketing tactics or special to generate some sales activity.
Odds are, the ideas that get generated at the end of January usually start producing results 30-90 days after they're deployed.
So if that's the case...wouldn't it make a lot of sense to begin those promos, specials, and increased efforts now, sixty days before your inevitable dry spell?
Let's call it your planting seeds effort. You want to generate interest now but deliver the services/goods in January and February. How might you plant some marketing seeds now?
Offer a 2014 budget/2015 delivery deal: You know that many of your clients have a fiscal year that ends in December. They have "use it or lose it" budgets. So why not help them wisely spend those budget dollars? Create an opportunity for them to make a smart purchase in 2014 for things they'll need in the first few months of 2015.
Put together a package: Why not bundle some of your products/services in a way that guarantees usage over the first few months of the year? Set the end date to purchase the bundle sometime in the middle of January. Begin talking about the bundles now and you'll either sell some in December or you'll plant the seeds now and make the sale in January.
Kick off a PR campaign: Maybe it's time to create some buzz? That kind of buzz usually takes some time to build up so starting now means you'll have some momentum in a few months. Be smart - concentrate on a few key publications that will position you in the right way with the right audience.
Reach out to former clients: Now might be the perfect time to re-connect with some of your former customers. Keep in mind that they're (hopefully) doing their 2015 planning right now which might result in their realizing that they are going to need what you sell.
Develop and distribute helpful content: Depending on your industry and your customers, this might be an e-book, a white paper, a podcast, or even an in person seminar. Use this opportunity to demonstrate just how smart you are and how you can help them by sharing that expertise. Use the content to reach back out to potential customers you've already courted, prospects and even current customers.
Mine your referral network: Your best customers are typically more than happy to boast about your work. Now is the perfect time to ask them who else they think might benefit from your expertise/products. Set up those initial meet and greets for the first week of January.
Don't wait until you're in the middle of your slow season to worry about shortening it. If you plant some marketing seeds right now, the slow season may be a thing of the past.
The whole idea was this: Many companies donate their time, their talent and their money to various charities, but it was done without anyone knowing about it or the company gaining any additional value from being a good citizen.
Some would argue that to give without any expectation of reward or recognition is the true definition of giving.
Perhaps that's true. But it's also very small.
Another word for small in this instance might be isolated. If I give five dollars to a charity and don't tell anyone about it, the charity gets five dollars and I get a warm feeling inside. All good. But if I tell my friends about the charity and that I'm giving five dollars and invite them to do the same, now look at that I've created:
Which do you think the charity would prefer?
Now, take that a step further. Rather than just telling my friends about it, what if I aligned my choice of charity with my customer base? Odds are I serve a group of people that I have a connection with and that I care about.
So if I look for a charity that would be important to them and to me, I can amplify the impact I can bring to the charity by engaging my entire customer base to rally around them.
When anyone talks about cause marketing, one of the examples they use is Avon and their commitment to fight breast cancer. They were pioneering in the idea of uniting a cause and a group of customers, for a greater good.
We're all smart enough to recognize that Avon benefits from this alliance as well, in earned media exposure, creating a powerful connection to both their female customer base and their female employee base as well as increased sales.
None of that mitigates the good they do. It's truly a win/win situation. Here's how Avon talks about their efforts on their own website:
"One of the company's largest ongoing projects is the Avon Breast Cancer Crusade, which is aimed at funding research and access to quality care. Now in its 20th year, the project has donated more than $740 million to the cause, making it one of the world's leading corporate supporters of the fight against breast cancer. Among the successes that Avon lists on its website:
Avon fundraises for these efforts through various methods like hosting the Avon Walk for Breast Cancer series and selling Crusade Pink Ribbon fundraising products."
I know your company probably doesn't have the reach of an Avon, but you do have loyal customers who care about the world around them. And I'll bet there's a charity or cause that matters to you and that would matter to them if you made the introduction.
As you work on your 2015 marketing plan - I challenge you to weave in a cause marketing effort. There's nothing that says marketing can't also make the world a better place.