Food for thought: The art of brand storytelling

In our latest series on leading issues for CMOs, we ask three marketing experts to tell us what it takes to be a great storyteller

In our latest Food for Thought series with leading marketers, we asked three brand experts: What are you doing to improve the art of storytelling capability within your team?

Steve Morton

CMO, Ivanti

The answer is simple: Hire journalists. We already have plenty of product experts, but it’s rare to find deep technical expertise and great communicators in the same person.

Good storytellers and good journalists know how to get to the point. They either connect with their audience or they don’t get the front page or the clicks. They don’t bury the headline. They know how to work against a deadline.

I think journalists are also naturally curious and know how to find the story behind the story. They can interview out the relevant points. No one cares about your product release. Catch their emotions with how you’d change their life and you might get to talk about all the cool things you’ve built.

At Ivanti, I ask candidates to tell me what they’re most passionate about. Their energy, enthusiasm and ability to draw me into the topic has proven to be a good barometer of their future success. Go find someone with a news background. You can always teach them the other stuff.

Caroline Francis

Caroline Francis, marketing director, Jade Software Corporation
Caroline Francis, marketing director, Jade Software Corporation

Marketing director, Jade Software Corporation 

Gone are the days of telling people about your product through glossy brochures and Web content and expecting them to buy.  Content is now king and the art of good storytelling through digital and offline mediums lies behind this.

And with more than 80 per cent of decision makers researching your company before choosing a product or service, your story needs to be continuous and take people on a journey that captivates their attention and compels them to act – through a range of mediums.

Because of this, businesses need to elevate the role of great content writers who blend the capabilities of an organisation with the thought leadership required to build empathy with an audience. That’s why at Jade Software, 50 per cent of our marketing team is made up of storytellers who write content our audience loves.

Contributors come from all over the business work consistently with our content team to ensure our story is told through a single voice. Research also plays a big role in backing up our story, and we have third-party experts talk with real customers to add colour to our content.

Whether it’s through a clever blog post, an opinion paper, physical direct mail, or email, relevant content that engages your audience will delight your sales team and deliver quality leads to the business.

Graham White

Group managing director, Howorth, Ogilvy PR

With the huge pressures faced by in-house marketing and communications teams, agencies have a more vital role to play than ever as clients shift their focus away from corporate messaging to credible storytelling.

At Howorth, Ogilvy PR, we believe that if you have a good story to tell, then you are certainly starting from a good place. No more is it about ‘what media coverage can you get me’. Rather, it’s about audience interests, what will resonate and understanding how will we know if we’ve been successful.

As a result, we’re hiring journalists, videographers and other specialists to produce high-quality content that will resonate with the intended audiences. We’re also finding new and inventive ways to connect these stories with their intended audience. This is also ushering in a need for more measurable impact, to truly understand if the audience is responding.

Clients have always relied on us to connect the dots between what they want to say and what their audience wants to hear. Storytelling is the latest step in the continued evolution of this relationship.

The good news is that earned media is still very important, because it drives awareness. But the story doesn’t stop there. We now have the opportunity to see that story through owned platforms and working closely with marketing and sales.

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