The Importance of Storytelling in the Engagement Economy

Do you plan to send out more marketing messages next year than you did this year? If you’re like most marketers I talk to, you answered “yes.” We love to send out more marketing messages, create more content, print more brochures, and promote our products and services more now than we ever have before.

And yet, how often do you receive a marketing message from a brand you use that you actuallywanted? If you’re like most people, the answer is “not very often, if ever.” We live in a world of too many marketing messages. A world that places more weight on the volume of things we do than it does on the value of what we do.

In today’s digital world where literally anyone can send stuff out, we are all looking for more value, in the form of stories that we actually want to read and share.

This is referred to as The Engagement Economy. After checking out the research in The State of Engagement, it’s pretty clear that marketers are consistently falling short of consumer expectations. 82% of marketers think that they are engaging their customers, while most consumers disagree. Not a single consumer said they wanted a higher volume of messages from brands.

In this blog, I’ll cover why storytelling matters in The Engagement Economy and what we as marketers need to be doing to impact our customers.

Why Do We Still Send More?

Intuitively we understand the need to focus on engagement and value for our customers but we still do more. Why is this?

To start, we have so many options available to us today to market our products and services. The days of simple choices like print, TV, and radio are long gone. We have Snapchat, Instagram, Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter—all with multiple options to deliver a marketing message. We can create lots of content like brochures, blog posts, animated explainer videos, customer testimonials, and Facebook Live videos.

We get asked by sales to create more brochures, case studies, to order promotional pens and stress balls, and to get a bigger booth at the events we sponsor. We get asked to stick our logo on highway billboards and in website banners. We still focus on volume today because we are desperate to engage our audiences. So, we say “yes” to every request to send more, to create more, to promote more. On some level, we really want to focus on value but we end up focused on volume to achieve it. That forces our audiences to tune us out, so we do even more volume and the vicious cycle continues.

New Marketing Leaders Are Bridging the Future

New leaders are emerging in marketing today. Leaders who see this negative feedback loop of volume and promotion. Leaders who are pushing for customer-centric cultures focused on delivering amazing customer experiences.

First, we have to learn how to push back against the constant requests we get to do more volume. When we listen to our customers, learn from the insights of what’s working and resonating with them, we begin to see the patterns of engagement.

We no longer live in an age where marketing activities cannot be measured. Everything we do provides insights that can be learned from in order to understand how to deliver value to our customers and impact for our business.

The CMO of the future defines the purpose of the brand based on the value the company delivers to customers. They are building a culture that empowers employees to share the things they know on the topics they are passionate about and they are measuring the results.

Companies who define their purpose, and activate the passion of all their employees, are delivering higher profits. The marketing leaders of the future are leading the way.

Storytelling Bridges the Gap

How do we bridge the gap between the expectation to deliver impact today, the requests we get to do more, and the demands of our customers to see more value?

The only way to bridge this gap is with stories.

Stories are such powerful drivers of emotional value that their impact can be measured objectively. There’s a simple formula for storytelling success. It starts with making your customers the hero of the stories we tell. Not your brand, your product, or your executives.

Your customers are all on a journey. They have many challenges and questions. What if, instead of talking about what you sell and how great you are, you started sharing what you know. Your employees have all the expertise that your customers need to succeed. Help them tell their stories.

Define the questions your customers are asking, then line those up with the answers your own employees can provide. Then share those as widely as you can. Seek to help your customers and they will be more engaged, more trusting, more successful, and more likely to stay with you and recommend you to their peers.

This story is coming to an end, but we need you to take us from here. You are the kind of marketing leader we need to stop the negative impact cycle of marketing volume. Focus on delivering value to your customers. Activate your employee expertise. And start to measure the impact of telling better stories.

How have you incorporated storytelling into your marketing strategy? What brands do the best job of storytelling, in your opinion? I’d love to hear about it in the comments. If you want to learn more about the Formula for Storytelling in The Engagement Economy, come join me in London on October 19 for the Marketing Nation Roadshow in London.

Michael Brenner

Michael Brenner  is a Top CMO, Content Marketing and Digital Marketing Influencer, an international keynote speaker, author of "Mean People Suck" and "The Content Formula" and he is the CEO and Founder of Marketing Insider Group, a leading Content Marketing Agency . He has worked in leadership positions in sales and marketing for global brands like SAP and Nielsen, as well as for thriving startups. Today, Michael helps build successful content marketing programs for leading brands and startups alike. Subscribe here for regular updates.