Storytelling vs. Story-crafting

These days marketing is all about the story. It's the story of the idea that lead to the creation of your business, the history of your company, the creative uses of your product, the experience of your service, the transformation that results from your experience. Whatever it is, it's all about the story and thus the storytelling. The storytelling techniques and venues are constantly changing. Just as mass communication grew through newspapers to radio to television the new media is evolving communication and storytelling. Electronics and internet connectivity are changing the game from mass communication and storytelling to individual communication and story-crafting.

Story-crafting is different than storytelling because the listener takes an active participatory role in how they consume the story. User generated content builds on the base framework created by marketers to create new narratives that are much more powerful and relevant to consumers. A forum or blog comment section that collects customer experiences, tips, recommendations, reviews, suggestions etc. is much more relevant to consumers than traditional marketing speak generated by the in-house copy writers. Trust has shifted. Consumers believe their fellow consumers perhaps more so than the company line.

Today customers or fans self organize into different levels of loyalty and devotion to your product, service or experience. In so doing they seek out different levels of connection to your brand. Some just buy your product, some refer you to friends and colleagues, some subscribe to your email newsletter, still others read and subscribe to your blog, a few subscribe to your podcast and somewhere out there somebody wants to tatoo your logo on their body. There's a hierarchy of brand loyalty and devotion. The examples are obvious and oft written about. Apple, Microsoft, Volkswagen, Disney, Harley-Davidson, Tom Peters, Starbucks, etc.

What's needed today is a comprehensive integrated approach to the use of the new tools and communication channels available to today's marketer. The tools keep coming. It's too easy to just grow haphazardly from email newsletters to blogs/RSS to audio podcasting to video pocasting with wikis, forums, chat rooms thrown in along the way. We're seeing some dazzling failures along the way as companies attempt to use these tools without understanding how best to integrate them into an overarching story-crafting strategy.

Today's marketers need to understand new media tools and just how they can and should be used to allow customers and prospects to enter into a participatory relationship with your brand that allows them to connect at a variety of levels with your ongoing stories. Not everyone will utilize all of your communication channels but their needs to be a strategy so that all the elements move the story forward and don't frustrate customers by simply duplicating messages across different media.

That's why it pays to consider outsourcing your customer communication like email newsletters and blogs to a company like BeTuitive Marketing, LLC because we bring a lot of experience and understanding of these new media tools and can help you craft overall strategies for building your relationships and sales with your existing and prospective customers.

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October 19, 2005 in audio publication, award winning blog, award winning magazine, award winning newsletter, Award winning publications, Blog Outsourcing, blog publish, Blogging Tools, Blogs, Brand enhancement, Building B2B Relationships, Building Customer Community, Building Customer Intuition, bulk email marketing, Business editorial, business magazine, Business Marketing, Business newsletter, Business publications, Business relationships, CMO, company blog, Television, Web/Tech, Weblogs | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Hugh Macleod: Maybe Katrina is for wiki's what 9/11 was for blogs.

Uber blogger/copy writer/ cartoonist Hugh Macleod wonders if the Hurricane Katrina disaster aftermath might catapult the wiki into the mainstream like 9/11 and I think the Asian Tsunami brought blogs onto the main stage. If you don't know what a wiki is you soon will when the big media discovers that many many loved one's are using them to reach out for information about family and friends impacted by the hurricane.

A wiki is site made up of one or more reader generated and/or edited web pages. Visitors to the site can log in and edit the information themselves. In a sense it's like a digital bulletin board where anyone can add or remove a note. Most wikis have a history log so that changes can be reversed and tracked helping to avoid data vandalism.

In the case of Hurricane Katrina various wikis are growing to facilitate the exchange of information. Hugh has a round-up of hurricane wikis.

Of course, the grand daddy of all wikis is the Wikipedia which is a reader developed encyclopedia that relies on thousands of readers to contribute the current 713,558 of articles on a vast array of topics.

Hugh's Passing thought:

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September 2, 2005 in award winning design, award winning magazine, Building B2B Relationships, Building Customer Community, Business Marketing, Business newsletter, Current Affairs, Television, Web/Tech, Weblogs | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Movie Producers Face a Huge Crisis of Customer Intuition

The New York Times has a rather obvious report on the clear customer intuition crisis that the movie industry is facing. The movie industry appears with few exceptions to be in a downward spiral of poor quality products that perform poorly due to external competition, distribution competition and poor customer experience.

Customers are finding alternatives for their entertainment time and money. Gaming, internet use, books, Tivo dumping and even board games are contributing to reduced movie ticket sales.

Prices are dropping for new and used DVDs. Prices will continue to drop as customer collections mature. Publishers will discount their offerings to boost sales. Competition from Netflix and discount retailers will also drive pricing down. Customers are also drawn to TV shows on DVD. The smaller chunks of entertainment may have a real appeal. Customers can watch 20, 30, 60 minute stories without having to commit to a full 90 or 120 minute film.

Home theaters are becoming more prevalent. Large screen TVs with or without surround sound are becoming a real convenient option for time and increasingly fuel starved customers. Why go out when a superior experience can be had at home.

Customer experience is becoming a real problem. As multiplexes look for multiple sources of revenue and turn to advertising, high priced concessions and arcade games they are creating an experience that is only tolerated by teenagers who have different standards of acceptable theater behavior. Talking, seat switching, cellphone use, etc. are behaviors that are not well tolerated by older(35+) moviegoers. This encourages older customers to stay home and watch DVDs on their home theaters. When the rare movie designed to appeal to baby boomers is released theater owners and movie studios wonder why older movie goers don't come out to the theaters.(Witness the theatrical disappointment of Cinderella Man) They don't have enough customer intuition to see that they have designed their customer experience to be unfriendly to precisely the customers who can most afford the alternatives of DVD collections and home theaters.

Is your customer experience driving customers to do more business with you or to seek alternatives? Over time your customer base may have shifted. Are you still aligning your customer communications and experiences to who your customers really are?

NYT on the Movie Business

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August 25, 2005 in award winning newsletter, Blog Outsourcing, blog publish, Building B2B Relationships, Building Customer Community, Business Marketing, Business newsletter, CMO, Current Affairs, Television, Web/Tech | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Customer Intuition Tool Roundup

One of the things we are known for here at BeConnected is tools and techniques you can use to develop your customer intuition. The web is full of tools you can use to keep abreast of the latest developments with your customers, competitors and industry thought leaders. Since we have a lot of new readers I thought I'd put together a round-up of tools you can use to develop your customer intuition.

If you are looking for ways to write a relevant and high value email newsletter these are some tools you can use to find great content resources. These are the kind of tools that put the interactive in interactive marketing.

Weather, Weather Everywhere - a look at how organizations like Disney and 7-Eleven use weather to predict their customer behavior.

Senegal Whishes for Rain in France - Related to the above link is this story about how tele-marketers use weather patterns to shape their calling patterns.

Staying Alert to Your Customers - My favorite technique for using Google to develop your customer intuition.

Knowing When Customers are Online - A tool for tracking the online presence of contacts and customers.

Finding Employees of Customers Online - A clever Google hack for finding websites of people who work for or at certain companies.

Connecting with Birthdays - Using birthday data to enhance your connection with your customers.

How Much TV Coverage are You Getting - A service to track mentions of you, your company, customers or competitors on television.

If you like thee seven tools and techniques be sure you grab the BeConnected feed on the side bar and stay subscribed for new tools and techniques.

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August 11, 2005 in award winning newsletter, Blog Outsourcing, blog publish, Blogs, build credibility, Building B2B Relationships, Building Customer Community, Building Customer Intuition, bulk email marketing, business magazine, Business Marketing, Business newsletter, Business publications, Business relationships, CMO, company blog, Television, Web/Tech, Weblogs | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Smaller, Faster, Shorter

Seth points us to this great piece on the Long Tail blog that tells us that content in the digital age is getting shorter, faster and smaller. Everything from magazine articles to television programs are now coming in bite sized chunks.

The post doesn't even mention blogs and podcasts that are also clearly a part of this trend. Who has time to devote 30 whole minutes to one topic in one media channel?

Bite sized chunks, people, bite sized chunks.

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August 3, 2005 in award winning magazine, Building B2B Relationships, Building Customer Community, CMO, Current Affairs, Television, Web/Tech, Weblogs | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Customer Intuition: ESPN Considers Branded TVs

Masthd_logoThe NYT reports that sports network ESPN is considering extending it's television brand into TV hardware.

"Brand value will become more important than ever, as consumers are now fragmented to such a great degree that brands must build a new relationship with them," he [Disney President Robert A. Iger] said. "Content will remain king, while technology will become its powerful prime minister."

The network is also considering the possibility of offering special content to owners of its TV's. As digital televisions begin to enter the market with standard Ethernet connections and built-in hard drive recorders (called personal video recorders, or P.V.R.'s), there will be more opportunities for content providers to offer programming to a captive audience.

"An ESPN-branded TV could arrive tuned to ESPN," Mr. Doherty said. "It would be dumb to send out a TV with a built-in P.V.R. if the P.V.R. was empty."

The decision to do a brand extension is based on customer intuition. The central question being "Do you think customers of product X would be interested in product Y?" This assumes an informed intuition regarding one's customers.

I think the failure of brand extensions is not usually the design or quality of the product itself it's the failure of customer intuition. Companies make leaps of logic hoping to lead their customers into new products and services and the fail miserably. They need to be one or two steps in front of their customers instead of five or ten steps.

In the case of ESPN the last line of the quote is intriguing. Perhaps instead of rebadged middle of the line TVs ESPN should focus on custom content packages for PVRs. That would be a better first step because the sports obsessed fans that ESPN wants to market TVs to already have the best TVs they can afford. They may or may not have a PVR(Tivo). Either way they can still download ESPN content into a PVR.

If ESPN wants to reach further into the lives of their customers they should develop deep intuition about the other interests and passions of their customers.

How are you developing deep customer intuition in your organization? Are you considering a line extension that makes a leap of logic like ESPN's content to hardware? Are you one step in front of your customers or ten steps?


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June 15, 2005 in Blog Outsourcing, blog publish, Business Marketing, Business newsletter, Current Affairs, Sports, Television, Web/Tech | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Knowing Where You Are Calling

Has the concern over off-shoring of call centers gone mainstream? I just spotted a TV spot for 1800 Dentist that clearly states that their operators are "right here in the USA."

Have you found any sensitivity to the issue of off-shoring call centers in your marketing work?

December 9, 2004 in audio publication, Blog Outsourcing, blog publish, Building Customer Community, Business newsletter, Current Affairs, Television | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

How Much TV Coverage Are You Getting

multivision, Inc. is a clever company that uses speech recognition and the closed captioning system for television to monitor 1,000 TV channels for client keywords, company names, customer names, competitors, etc. They are then able to build a library for clients of captured references.

It does for TV what Google News Alerts does for online news sources.

From the multivision website:

Know your customers better
The business development director at an exhibit booth manufacturer devised a way to find new business by scanning all broadcasted stories in their market that covered companies receiving venture capital funding, expanding marketing efforts or launching any new products. He received video clips of the announcements directly to his laptop and was able to call on those companies that very day.

Find new customers
An innovative account executive for an industrial lubricants manufacturer decided to take advantage of bad situations by monitoring product recalls. By scanning the news broadcasts for the first mentions of product mishaps, problems or retractions, she was able to find new leads for her company. Ultimately, she was able to add 15 new clients in her first month of "crisis monitoring."

Be where the competition is
In an effort to jump start awareness in the marketplace, a marketing manager for an established health-services company tried some unique monitoring techniques. To remain on top of the latest news and developments, he tracked not only the competitions’ media mentions but all products and services that his company didn’t. That way whenever customers inquired about other services, he knew how to respond more effectively.

A great customer intuition tool.


September 29, 2004 in Blog Outsourcing, build credibility, Television, Web/Tech | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack