The Art of Storytelling in a Digital Age
Stories are in our make-up.
They help us interpret meaning, connect with people across generations, and articulate really complex stuff in easily digestible snippets.
The advertising & media industries are built on their ability to tell compelling stories.
Stories of love, stories of hate, and stories of redemption.
Your ability to tell a compelling story was the differentiating factor for the Mad Men era of agencies.
Brands would pay big bucks for a story that would influence their audience into making a purchase.
Mass media provided a captive audience for these stories, with eyeballs and the associated hearts & minds of a generation unburdened by the internet.
We were living in a world of dreams – where our aspirations of wealth, health, acceptance and excitement were fuelled by the promises of advertising creative and PR spin conceived in agency boardrooms; and those with the desire & means to pay for it.
Tell people who you are, tell it with the right reach and frequency, tell it with a creative treatment or angle that is new, relevant and exciting.
Hire a model, take a picture, throw a party, sell a dream.
And it worked.
Prime real estate was snapped up
While our ability as humans to create is unlimited, the ability to broadcast our creations at scale has been restricted.
Only a certain number of full page adverts will fit in the newspaper, there’s only a certain number of 30 second slots available during prime time broadcasting, and there’s only a certain number of outdoor locations with the foot traffic and visibility to warrant a billboard.
Hungry for attention, advertisers scrambled to secure media space to broadcast their stories, and media owners happily packaged up every available spot for sale. Global media revenues ballooned and those who owned the real estate (or sold it for commission) profited.
You only have to take a walk through Tokyo, Times Square, or virtually any community in which the global brands play, to see the overload in action as a result of this media generation.
This is the media model upon which the majority of the world’s agencies, and indeed the success of their clients, has been built.
The model is changing, fast
For the first time, we live alongside a medium that is infinite.
The social-mobile revolution means the ability to both produce and publish content is no longer restricted. Nor is the space through which good stories can spread.
As the volume of content has exploded and attention spans have shortened, captive audiences held hostage by the medium no longer exist. As humans, we now set our own filters, we tune into those we trust or care about most and our ability to ignore comes at the peril of those that have commanded our attention for so many years.
As the power to produce and spread content moves away from traditional media owners and into the hands of the individual, the role of brand & marketing teams, and the role of the agency partners they trust, is perhaps in the midst of its most fundamental shift to date.
Brands and publishers must now, more than ever before, become masters of storytelling rather than simply creating advertisements.
In today’s social & mobile powered world, brands are once again who the people say they are. No matter how creative the marketing campaign, or how loud it is told – the voice of the people now has the potential to be louder.
Old school values are back in vogue
Before mass media, quality products and meaningful causes inspired the masses and spread via word of mouth – via media that was earned not bought.
We are entering a new age, where the ability to earn your audience is now once again the most valuable media asset. Although this time, the village is a global one.
Forget the complexity created by the proliferation of media or the frantic pursuit of the next silver bullet.
Stop. Because the equation is now once again incredibly simple.
Good wholesome products, good wholesome service experiences and good wholesome stories are a currency on the rise again.
Produce a quality product, deliver an experience that delights. Be worth talking about. And the people will talk.
And if you don’t, they won’t.
You need to earn it
The role of the brand & marketing team, and their trusted partners, is changing.
The objective is rapidly shifting away from telling people our stories, to empowering our customers to tell the story for us.
Instead of talking at your audience, create experiences worth sharing. Earn the right to a share their voice, then curate the story they tell.
Produce something remarkable.
Then nurture your own media based on the goodwill you will earn.