9th September 2020

Why good storytelling is the key into new global markets (and how to do it)

Kelly Court
Managing Director, US & JAPAC

The odds are pretty simple: you’ve either been knocked sideways by the pandemic or your business has seen growth. However it’s left you though, one thing’s for sure: now, is not the time to stall your marketing.

Maintaining, recovering or driving market share means giving your customers a reason to care about who you are, and doing that takes successful and engaging campaigns.

Easier said than done as you compete to be heard in the vast amount of noise, so what will it take to achieve local and international growth?

During last month’s New Zealand Tech Week, we were lucky enough to be invited to join James Brown, General Manager at FinTechNZ and Holly Jones, Head of Marketing at Movio, on a webinar to discuss this very subject.

Watch the webinar re-cap video above

Amongst us, we determined the answer was simple: good storytelling. Good stories make things relevant and people curious. They inspire us to do stuff. They entertain. They make people want to share and they make us feel part of something.

Brands who can do storytelling are better placed to market themselves successfully to their customers during a crisis, and those who do it well not only fend off the competition but also significantly increase engagement, loyalty and sales over the longer term.

What is ‘good storytelling’?

The concept of ‘storytelling’ has become somewhat of a marketing buzzword in recent years and has seen the lines of brand messaging and brand storytelling blurred. So what is good storytelling?

Storytelling is your brand’s virtual shop window. It gives your audiences a reason to care about who you are and what you’re saying

Our own Managing Director of JAPAC, Kelly Bowen, explains: “Storytelling is your brand’s virtual shop window. It gives your audiences a reason to care about who you are and what you’re saying. Imagine you’re walking down a high-street: do you go into the shop with a closed door and no window, or do you head for the one next-door with an open door and big window so you can see exactly what’s on offer inside? It’s the same principle in digital storytelling.”

Why a crisis is a good time to evaluate your digital story? 

While brands are still finding their way through the pandemic, there are still sales targets to hit, bottom lines to consider and business objectives to achieve. As James from FinTech NZ explains: “When a crisis like COVID impacts your traditional growth strategy of travelling to new regions for business pitches and meetings, organisations need to rethink their strategy. The challenge now is how to achieve your growth goals, from the confines of your home?”

Kelly believes the first thing a brand should do is re-evaluate its understanding of its target audiences: “Before doing anything, you need to know the people (and remember, they are people) you’re talking to and how to make them listen. Who are they, where do they consume content, what do they want to hear from you, what do they care about?”

Secondly, a brand needs to assess and refine its narrative. Not all regions digest content the same; there are cultural considerations needed as well as a good understanding of where your audience sits. As Holly explains: “While you might have one consistent goal, or one consistent thing that you’re striving towards, you will need to make some adjustments within that strategy to suit that audience, and the country and territory your talking to.”

That means you need to be able to tell your story in different ways at different stages down the marketing funnel: so, some things to ask yourself:

  • First question: do you actually have a narrative written down?
  • Second question: is your messaging (on your sales pitches or social media) just about selling stuff?
  • Third question: are you interested, as a human, about the stories you’re posting on social, or the press releases you’re sending to media? If you were on the receiving end, would you actually care about what you’re reading or watching? Branch Road’s Founder & Director, Simon Cliffe explains: “You have to make sure that actually what you want to talk about is human. If you have positive, better engagements then you’re actually connecting with your audience. And that means ultimately, you have a better chance of selling stuff.”

If your answers are no, yes, no then you need to step back, think about your audience, and refine your messaging to suit the climate. Remember, you have only seven seconds to make a first impression as a brand. Every moment counts.

Understanding how to leverage digital  content in different ways

With restrictions resulting from the pandemic, a challenge for businesses right now is figuring out how to tell their stories from the confines of their home. For James, the answer is embracing the right kind of digital marketing content to engage audiences: “At this stage: you’ve done your narrative, so you know your story. You know audience, you understand their pain points and you understand how you solve their challenges (which makes their lives better!). Next is finding the tactics for talking to them.”

We’re really looking to create that long-term ability to tell and share a story

For Kelly, customers and their stories are the biggest marketing asset for any brand: “Customer advocacy has been shown to increase marketing effectiveness, by as much as 54%. Customers – happy customers – are your biggest assets in storytelling. We really encourage brands to use their customers to tell the world all the amazing things that they are doing.”

“We’re really looking to create that long-term ability to tell and share a story,” says James. And at Branch Road, that’s our mantra. “You then want to get as much bang for your buck out of a story. Using one customer story, and by integrating different channels, you can re-purpose, reformat, slice and dice a single story to feed sales teams, marketing teams, your social feeds, your PR, your lead generation and so much more,” Kelly explains.

Where to start?

Beginning, refining or pivoting your storytelling for new audiences, and in very challenging times, can seem a bit scary. It doesn’t need to be. Here’s a some key takeaways to get you started:

  • Define your narrative: Consider what makes your brand meaningful and why others should care. Create a strong narrative framework & messaging house which all marketing activities feed into. This ensures a clear, consistent and controlled narrative and that everyone involved is on the same page. In today’s climate remember you may need to adjust your story to resonate with your audience’s future challenges and pain points
  • Understand your audience: Who are they, and when you know that, ask yourself this: what’s the stuff that keeps them up at night? And make it personal and human – because when it’s human, it’s more impactful and genuine. And when you know that, be very clear about how what you do, helps them solve that challenge
  • Evaluate your existing assets: You don’t have to start from scratch. It’s very likely you have existing content that, with a little TLC, can be repurposed into powerful content, and, if done properly, used across all of your channels

Partner with experts in the region. That’s what we really did with Branch Road. It’s really important to work with people who understand the market and will work with you as a partner, not just a third-party

  • Define your storytelling strategy: Your strategy doesn’t have to cost a bomb. It’s more important that you resonate and appear relevant. Consider what tactics and content work for your strategy, and plan
  • Consider external support: In today’s climate, it’s likely your marketing & comms teams are working round the clock to hit objectives with fewer resources. Trying to take your story international with such constraints is even harder. Working with an expert partner in your target region is a solution worth considering.

For Movio, working with local teams was key to it’s success: “If you don’t have resources on the ground in your target regions, Partner with experts in the region. That’s what we really did with Branch Road. It’s really important to work with people who understand the market and will work with you as a partner, not just a third-party,” explains Holly.

For more information on how to market successfully in a crisis, download our eBook.

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