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3 Ways Marketers Need to Rethink Storytelling

As marketers, we like to talk about our influence as storytellers, but, truth be told, effective storytelling on behalf of brands is rare. I’d like to share with you three thoughts to consider that would make us all better storytellers.

1. It’s not about you.

I once heard a funny comedian, Michael Jr, talk about the point at which he went from being an “ok” comedian to one who is now bringing people to tears in large venues around the country. He explained how the turning point came when he realized that his job wasn’t to be funny, but rather to create opportunities for people to laugh.

Too often, as marketers, we put pressure on ourselves to deliver the emotion we’re looking to engage, instead of creating an opportunity for the viewer to experience it for themselves.

2. Sometimes words won’t do.

My wife is a high school dance teacher, and recently she consulted with me about a dance she was choreographing about living with Alzheimer’s. As caregivers for my grandmother who has advanced dementia, my wife and I have seen first-hand the blessing and the pain that comes with living with a loved one who is slowly stripped of her being.

As you watch the video below, I encourage you reconsider our dependence on words.

3. Humility.

Joe Ford, Immersion Active’s VP of Digital Marketing Practices, once responded to a question about what was really at the heart of our success when it comes to engaging boomers and seniors online. His response was simple but profound: humility.

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve shared that insight with a prospective client only to have them look at me as if I was a less-than-sophisticated marketer. Even when I take it a step further and explain the processes and tools that we use to listen, reflect, and amplify the voice of our consumers, for some reason it seems less than impressive (unsatisfying, even) to many marketers—until I show them the results.

In the last twelve months, Immersion Active’s marketing campaigns have been recognized by three of our industry’s most credible organizations: WOMMA (the Word of Mouth Marketing Association) for a social & WOM campaign, the Web Health Awards for an Alzheimer’s app, and the CMA (Content Marketing Association) for email campaigns. These awards are noteworthy as they are based on hard business metrics and incumbent on storytelling. More importantly, the same metrics that earned us these awards have been the source of big wins for our clients.

When it comes to marketing to boomers and seniors who have seen and heard it all, and are the least likely to trust traditional advertising, storytelling is still one of our most important tools. But with all of the technology at our disposal giving us unprecedented opportunity to engage consumers like never before, we need to be careful to protect the principles that make good storytelling effective storytelling.