Communicating your brand: How to fortify what makes you special

June 22, 2017

Brand blog

We all know the stuff of brands; it’s the unique design, sign, symbol, words – or combination of these things – that together create an organisation’s image. This image, and the story that you tell, helps people to identify your organisation’s product and differentiate it from your competitors. If your brand is proactively built, and positively sustained, over time it accumulates credibility, quality, trust and value in the mind of the consumer. As a result, it helps consumers identify the benefits of one organisation over another.

In all manners of business, a strong, positive brand is essential. However, creating a valuable brand is not a simple and static process; your brand must be constantly looked at to ensure it stays relevant and continues to increase in value. Simply having a nice logo isn’t enough. If you want to establish and fortify your own business’s brand, you must first develop a clear and uniform understanding of your brand identity and, with this understanding, develop a brand strategy for how you’ll best communicate just what makes your business so amazing.

 

Foster your brand

All businesses’ brand identities are determined by their business plan. So, to create and maintain a strong brand strategy, you need to keep an eye on what your businesses goals and aspirations are. Defining a clear brand strategy from your business goals will help you to develop, deliver and manage the brand going forward.

To develop a brand strategy, consider the 3 Ps (Purpose, Potential, and Promise):

  • Purpose: What is the purpose of your brand and business? What does it value?
  • Potential: Realistically consider your ability to achieve your brand goals. For instance, if you aspire to be the top performer in your industry, do you have the time, money and resources to achieve that? Create your own niche and unique position in the market in comparison to the competition.
  • Promise: What do you have to offer to your audience and how are you going to deliver this? What makes you stand out from your competitors? How do you fulfil the brand’s purpose within your potential?

 

Understand the organisation’s goals, ambitions, and capabilities

To further establish and maintain a successful brand identity, be very clear on your organisation’s goals, ambitions and capabilities. Some key things to consider include: What do you want the business to be? Is it that already? If not, how can you become that? Or, if it is, how do you communicate what makes your business special to your customers?

The answers to these questions will allow you to develop an in-depth understanding of the business’ current situation, where it wants to be and what it can achieve.  Whilst doing this, ruthlessly assess what the business really is, considering what is good and bad about it. Only by honestly assessing the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats to your organisation, can you develop a brand communication strategy that will improve the business.

 

Consider your customer

Another key component to building and maintaining a strong brand within today’s competitive market is understanding your customer – what they need and want. The customer should be at the forefront of your mind when you are developing your brand because they are your most important supporter. Before you can communicate your brand message to them, you need to ensure that it appeals to them and will be unique within the current market. Today’s market is incredibly competitive and your brand needs to have some sort of X factor – that can be positioned along with your unique story – to cut through. It’s all about figuring out what your point of difference is and owning it!

 

The product isn’t everything

When it comes to building, and maintaining, a brand it’s not just about having a good product or service and distributing it. The brand’s story must be brought to life in everything the business does, including its products or services, price point, packing, staff, stores or distribution methods, communications, and corporate social responsibility activities.

On a similar note, however, don’t try to be everything to everyone. Even the best brands understand that they can’t appeal to everyone, so they develop an intimate understanding of their distinct target audience. Essentially, in everything you do, develop a unique position and stand for something.

 

Love your brand

A brand is something that needs constant TLC to maintain its value and credibility in the market. To do this, everyone involved in the business must be involved and present. A brand identity should be treated like a living, organic thing that must be sustained and nurtured, otherwise it withers and dies. This is especially true in today’s digital age, where business never sleeps and social media connects everyone 24/7.

People can now engage with an organisation at any time, from anywhere and information can spread globally in an instant. As a result, social media should be constantly monitored and utilised to protect and share your brand. Depending on how it is used, it can be an incredibly powerful tool for accumulating supporters and/or opposition.

 

Businesses today need to be vigilant and constantly monitor their story and how people feel about them so they can quickly respond to issues and share positive developments. This also applies to all aspects of a business and its communications. Constant monitoring, in-depth planning and proactive action will develop and maintain a strong brand, which paves the way to successful business.

If you want to look at how you can better communicate what makes your brand special, get in touch! We’d love to chat.

 

 

 

Where is the future of content marketing heading?

May 24, 2017

We might still be fairly sprightly here at Intelligent Ink, but sometimes even we feel old – and never more so than upon realising that, tech savvy as our generation is, we’ve got nothing on the kids finishing school now.

Future of content marketing blog

Meet Generation Alpha. The newest generational group to join the purchasing world, they’ve created one of the largest demographic shifts since the Baby Boomer generation. Coined as ‘screenagers’, these customers are tech natives. Having grown up with technology being seamlessly integrated into their lives, it is no longer considered a tool but rather a necessity. A seven-year-old can probably navigate a smartphone as well as a millennial! Suddenly tablets are replacing teddy bears, text messages are replacing passing notes, and landlines and phone books have already become historical items.

So what does that mean for business? In particular, as new generational groups gain purchasing power, how do content marketers adapt their strategy in order to successfully target each group? A strategy that works well at targeting Baby Boomers won’t necessarily be as effective for the next generation.

To evolve with the generational changes, we’re expecting a few changes when it comes to content:

Interactive content

Interactive content is not a new development, but it’s becoming more and more popular in the sphere of content marketing. Gen Alphas have an incredibly short attention span of only 8 seconds; that’s shorter than most snapchats! To remain competitive and to get the attention of this segment you need to be able to hook your audience and give them immediate value. There will still be a place for traditional content marketing, although the use of visual aids and connective messages will grab more attention as a new facet of interactive content is on the horizon.

 

Personalisation

We’ve seen this trend evolve with both millennial and generation Z, but personalisation will become increasingly popular for Gen Alpha consumers. You can get your name embroidered or attached to consumer goods, create a Barbie that looks like your twin and have advertisements that are tailored to your search history pop up in front of you. Personalisation will go further in the coming years with interactions with big brands needing to be all about the individual customer. To lead the way in this, it should feel as though the individual is the sole person who is being targeted with a particular message.

 

Extra-long or extra-short

Engaging content that will hook the audience will either be extremely short or lengthy and in-depth.

With the two extremities in length comes a rethink to your overall strategy. Can your message be translated in a short, concise, snappy message that is most likely to be delivered over social media? Or is your message compelling enough to be in the form of a lengthy story? If your content is worth reading, customers will go beyond their typical 8 second attention spam to gain value and share articles.

One thing will never change about creating good content – and that is that, to be truly effective, you must take into account who you’re talking to. The first step in writing any content is to think about who you’re trying to target – if it’s a B2B customer, are they the business owner or perhaps the problem owner further down the chain? If you’re talking to consumers, are you talking to an early 40s mother who works and is always busy, or to a teenager in Generation Alpha who is used to getting everything instantaneously and spends their life on their phone? Considering who you’re talking to will help you define your key messaging, tone, channels used, and even (as we’ve said), the length, helping you grab the attention of these tech natives, share your story, and connect with your audience.

 

It won’t be long until these digital natives become the new customers. Now, more than ever, businesses need to be thinking about adapting to digital processes, and focusing on customising the experience of each user. Get ready!

 

On to the next chapter – what comes next after an internship

May 4, 2017

Our most recent intern, Caitlin, has just finished up with us – so we asked her to put together her thoughts on the internship and where she’s at now. It’ll probably be a familiar feeling to many people at the start of their careers!

16903334_1428732050471804_5320167433750120684_oI’ve spent the past 3 months as an Intelligent Ink Intern – writing countless blogs, articles and website content and, now suddenly, I’m left with the task of writing my final blog post detailing my internship and my mind is blank. Seriously, there’s nothing in there. Writer’s block decided to come and hit me on my final day. Awesome. Despite this, I’ll push through and follow some helpful advice from my friend Dory, but instead of swimming, I’ll just keep writing, writing, writing.

It’s a strange thought that I’m still coming to grips with; I was once a high school student, then a university student, now I’m an intern, but after today I have no title. Instead I’m left trying to figure out what I want to do.

When I was younger I was constantly asked, “What do you want to be when you’re older?” I would always answer, “A fairy,” and my naive 5-year-old mind thought that it was a viable career option. Anything was possible when you were younger. You could be anything you wanted to be. Why has that changed? Granted, I don’t think being a fairy and flying around all day is too realistic. But that younger self mindset of ‘I can do anything’ is the best one to have when you’re still trying to figure it all out.

Despite having no clue about what I actually want to do career wise, I definitely have a clue about what I don’t want to do, and that’s anything that involves math! And I have an inkling about what I love doing – passions that have ignited over the years and been further developed during my time here at Intelligent Ink.

Over the weeks of being an Intelligent Ink Intern I’ve learnt A LOT! More than I could have ever imagined.

Stepping into this internship was a big dive into the deep end; I was entering into the ‘real world’! However, I’ve learnt that going outside of your comfort zone, and confronting situations that make you nervous, is something that should be embraced! If I said no to everything that I thought I couldn’t do, I wouldn’t have learnt half as much as I did during my internship. Instead, I said “yes” to every opportunity.

No one loves criticism, but instead of shoving it aside and not daring to look at it anymore, I’ve learnt to turn the feedback into pointers for my following articles. In three months you want to learn and absorb as much as possible and that can’t be achieved if you’re not open to helpful, constructive suggestions.
Writing used to be a mundane, chore-like task at university. Sitting down to write an academic essay was a nightmare. I remember when I was younger creating stories and writing for myself was a rush. And far from writing everyday becoming a chore during my internship, it’s the complete opposite; I come into the office eager to write and loving every second of it! You have days where you’re completely unmotivated to write one sentence but the end result of ticking the task off your checklist and seeing your words in print or up on a website drives the desire to finish everything to a high standard.

If you asked me to name what I loved most about my time at Intelligent Ink and what I’ll be taking away from this experience, it’s my love for writing that has been reignited and the vast improvements I have made over the weeks I’ve been here. For this, I am truly grateful for the guidance and support Verity and Christina have given me during my internship.

Right now, there are so many avenues of my life that are undecided. Usually this would scare me, but instead everything is wide open and I’m excited to chase opportunities wherever they may lead.

So, I’m leaving Intelligent Ink with no title, just a recent graduate with some practical experience under her belt and a heart full of curiosity, ready see where the future leads.

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Seeking your story – why use Intelligent Ink?

April 25, 2017

Intelligent Ink storytellers & content marketing experts

When you’re not witty wordsmiths or expert communicators, it can be hard to know where to start. And even if you know you need some support with content, it’s not always easy to know who the right people are for the job – or exactly what the job is!

That’s why we thought we’d give you a little insight into who we are, and what we love, so you can tell if we might be the sort of people that you like to work with. From there, the rest is easy, but it’s getting the right fit that’s important. After all, we’re after partners, not just clients, so we’re keen to be in it for the long haul.

 

We really love stories – and we’re really good at them

You’ve probably already gathered that writing is our jam, but it goes a bit deeper than that. While we can wield words that persuade, and words that inspire, what we really love are words that tell a story, because that’s what truly creates a connection.

 

We can talk how you talk

So often a business intuitively knows what makes them special and different, but this can be hard to get across externally. I mean, you have to really be there and feel it, don’t you? Not so! The other thing we’re really freakin’ good at is asking the right questions; we work hard from the outset to make sure we ‘get’ you, and then help you communicate in a way that ensures that others really get it too.

If you’re ticking a box with your content and just trying to get something up on a page, we may not be your gals. Not ones for a slap-dash solution, we’re just see too much possibility and opportunity for great content. Or as one of our husbands puts it: “Don’t handcuff us to the kitchen sink.”

 

We’re good at the big picture

There’s a reason for this. While for us it’s all about content – and we’re particular about how every piece of writing goes – we’re always considering it within the bigger context of your comms. Our wordsmithing ways are channel-agnostic, but one of the things that sets us apart is our ability to see and make commercial connections and consider how content can be used across all of your channels. Not only is this cost-effective common sense, it enables an integrated approach and a chance to drive a conversation with your market.

As such, we want to partner with people who are keen for some expert support, and love taking a collaborative approach to their communications. (You’re seeing again here why we’re not just words for hire now, aren’t you?)

 

We care – a lot!

There’s a reason that we’re so methodical, and strive for perfection in everything we write and, put simply, it’s because we care – a lot. And we’re not just saying that! We genuinely care about the people we work with and the companies and brands they work for. But don’t worry, it’s not all being “grammar-Nazis”. We make sure to strike the right balance with plenty of creativity and ‘out of the box’ thinking in there too.

 

So that’s us – if you’re keen to partner with awesome writers who think about your business as a whole and how your communications can achieve greatness, then get in touch. We would love to help you take a leadership position to win in your competitive environment, by delivering valuable content and empowering you to control how you communicate and connect with your customers.

Why content is our past, present & future – and what that means for you

April 5, 2017

Lots of changes have been taking place behind the scenes at Intelligent Ink – and we don’t just mean fresh interns or new Inkers. Instead, we’ve changed the way we do things and are focusing on helping our clients control the conversations that they’re having with their audiences. Let us explain…

Intelligent Ink has been doing clever things with words for over six years now (hard to believe!) Although we started off delivering compelling, professional copywriting, and then added a PR arm to our mix, we ended up doing even more than that.

Challenges within the traditional media environment, ever-changing technology and increasing saturation are making it harder than ever for businesses to achieve penetration and set themselves apart – vital ingredients of being able to build a real connection with customers. For this reason, we are putting down our PR tools, and focusing on helping businesses create controlled content.

II relaunchWe genuinely believe that businesses can most effectively communicate when they’re telling interesting and valuable stories – especially when they proactively and strategically drive the conversation that they’re having with their market.

For us, it’s all (still) about uncovering and crafting stories that help people understand what makes a business or brand special and different – stories that enable them to own a niche, take a position, and create authentic connections with customers. From there, we’re partnering with other amazing agencies to help us work magic across their specialty channels.

Whether it be in the blog space, through a printed magazine, online and digital marketing, targeted direct marketing or consistent eDMs, we are driving the channels that our clients can control and own.

Some of you will call this content marketing, but for us that doesn’t go the whole way to explain what makes these types of communications special. If anything, we were doing content marketing before it was “cool” and, now more than ever, we believe in helping clients take a leadership position to win in their competitive environment, by delivering valuable content and empowering them to control how they communicate and connect with their customers.

After all, it’s those who tell the stories that rule the world.

 

At Intelligent Ink, we love helping you uncover what makes you special and working alongside you to communicate that. Our focus is on delivering valuable content that enables you to control a conversation with the people you need to talk to. To find out more, or take the next step on your content journey, get in touch.

9 ways to unblock writer’s block

March 23, 2017

How to unblock writers block
Every writer, at some point, experiences writer’s block. You have an important document, article, assignment or report to write but, for some reason, you can’t seem to get started or you get stuck mid thought…

Put simply, writer’s block is when a writer loses the ability to produce new work or they experience a creative slowdown. Even we master wordsmiths at Intelligent Ink suffer from writer’s block from time to time. So, we have pulled together some of our best tips and tricks for overcoming writer’s block to craft an exquisite piece of writing:

1. Write it out

One way to overcome writer’s block is to just keep putting things down on paper, even if they aren’t relevant or they don’t seem to make sense. Sometimes just writing whatever comes to mind will help you to get into the flow and get the creative juices flowing. Some studies have found that writers get blocked because they fear judgement or not getting it right. The best way to overcome this form of writer’s block is by writing through it.

2. Experiment and make mistakes

Try writing something for yourself, like a private diary, a dream journal, a story or a brainstorm. They don’t have to be for any particular reason or for anyone to see, but allowing yourself an escape from structured and pressured writing can give your mind the freedom it needs explore and conjure up what others may find ludicrous and unrelated. Researchers have found that experimentation with ones writing and making mistakes is integral for overcoming writer’s block. So, if you can’t write what you should, try writing something that you shouldn’t.

3. Remember that the beginning isn’t always the best place to start

For many writers, simply starting is the hardest part. If you find you struggle with the introduction, first paragraph or first chapters, try skipping those and come back to them. Instead, try writing whatever section you find most compelling first. Sometimes writing the body of an article first can help you to better figure out and define what you are doing. Some writers never know where they’re going until they reach their destination; in fact, there are many well-known authors who knew the ending to their stories before they began.

4. Take a break in the middle

It might seem more logical to write until you reach the end of an idea, scene or section, however this logical approach can make it difficult to recommence writing the next day, because you have to find a completely new train of thought to jump on. Ernest Hemingway always said, “write until you come to a place where you still have your juice and know what will happen next.” By stopping in the middle of a thought or section it will make it easier for you to get your momentum back the next day, as you will have a better idea of what to write next.

5. Fool yourself

Some writers can feel blocked when they have a mountain of writing ahead of them. It’s natural to find the prospect of writing an entire article, story or chapter from scratch incredibly daunting. The best way to conquer such a mountain if it’s blocking your flow is to chip away at it by setting and completing baby goals. By setting little goals like, “just turn on the computer,” “just open Word,” “just write one sentence,” etc., you will fool yourself into slowly making progress on what may have, at first, seemed like a monstrous task. Quite often if you tell yourself that you just need to write for five minutes, chances are you’ll end up writing for much longer as you’ll get your groove going.

6. Set a smaller time window

Researchers also suggest restricting yourself to just two or three hours for writing something, as opposed to setting aside a whole day. Chances are that if you designate a whole day, you’ll come up with excuses to slack off. It’s much easier to focus your energy, block out distractions and maximise your productivity for two hours than it is for a whole day. Moreover, if you force yourself to write for several hours, you will probably find that work done in the last few hours will need to be redone anyway.

7. If it doesn’t work, let it go

Sometimes there is a pesky section or idea that you just can’t get to work. If you encounter this, and it’s blocking your flow, it might just not be right. Try considering if the troublesome paragraph or sentence is necessary. If it isn’t then just cut it out.

8. Take a break and come back to it

If you’re having trouble with an idea, paragraph or section and it really is essential, try taking a break and coming back to it. If it’s not working, stop trying to force it and instead go for a walk, get a coffee, have some food or just get out of the office. This can help you to de-stress and increase feelings of happiness, which makes your brain work better. When you come back to it you’ll be feeling refreshed and better equipped to tackle the trouble part.

9. Write the way that suits you

As a writer, it’s important that you don’t let anyone prescribe how you should write. Every writer has different preferences and strategies that help them to write effectively, for example some prefer writing drafts by hand, some work best in the morning, whilst others like to write at night. Moreover, some writers like to write on a treadmill, outside, sitting down, standing up or lying in bed. When it comes to writing, there are really no rules as to how to do it (except that you may be somewhat constrained in your work environment!) As much as you can, trust your unique creative process.

 

 

Expert vs. insider knowledge – when to get help with your communications

March 8, 2017

When you’re in business, it’s always a juggling act between keeping costs low and ensuring you’ve got the best people and resources on board to make your business as successful as possible. Communications are one of the first things to get put off when you’re trapped in the black hole that is ‘business as usual’, so at what point should you bring on an external communications expert or get some help with your content?


7K0A0116When you’re just not a writer

Let’s face it, most people start businesses so that they can do what they love and are good at. What they might not be quite so good at is everything ELSE involved with business, whether that’s doing strategy, sorting the accounts, or actually communicating what makes them so great at what they do. Sure, you might have thrown some content up on your website but, once you grow a bit, communications become even more necessary to keep demonstrating what makes you special and why people should work with you. If you find it hard to get the words out that sum up what makes you awesome, it might be time for some help.

When time runs out too quickly

There are only so many hours in the day. And when your whole team is run ragged doing what they’re hired to do, getting a blog written each week (or even each month) can seem rather challenging! Bringing in someone else can make the difference when it comes to enabling you to get your comms out regularly. Usually all it takes is a once a month catch up over the phone or in person, and a good writer should be able to put together content for your various communications channels – on time and on brand – without you having to spend lots of time briefing them.

When you need some fresh eyes

Death_to_stock_communicate_hands_9Businesses who are growing are also changing, which means that they need to communicate differently as well. Yet so often we end up getting caught in cycles of saying the same things because that’s what we’re comfy with. When your business is changing, or you’re having trouble changing how you communicate with your customers and prospective customers, bringing in fresh eyes can help you gain a new perspective on where you’re at now, and how you should best be showing your customers that.

When your customers don’t get what makes you awesome

We hear it SO often – “my customers just don’t get what makes us different!” Many business owners get frustrated when they feel that they’re doing amazing work, but people are opting for a lower cost option instead of the best option. That all comes down to how you communicate your point of difference. Take Apple for example – sure, they might sell computers and phones. But it’s HOW they sell computers and phones that makes them successful – they tell a story about what makes them better (and how their customers will be better with their products) instead of selling on price or specs alone.

Unfortunately, when you’re close to your product or service, it can sometimes be hard to see past just what you do and uncover what makes you great (and no – great service and high quality are not selling points; everyone claims those!) Bringing in an external communications provider helps uncover just what makes you different and can help you get that across to your audience in the most effective way possible.

If you need some help getting your customers to understand just what makes you special, get in touch! We’d love to have a chat about how you could tell your story in an even more compelling way!

Self-Insight for Success

February 23, 2017

Last Thursday afternoon Intelligent Inker Emma ventured out of the office to attend Professionelle’s interactive, half day “Self-Insight for Success” workshop. In this intensive workshop they delved deeply into how Self-insight plays a huge role in career success. At Professionelle they believe self-insight is the secret sauce of many successful women’s lives, positively impacting relationships, general health and wellbeing and of course careers. In this workshop Galia BarHava-Monteith (Executive coach and Founding Trustee of Professionelle) and Emily Turnbull (Professionelle Trustee and creative force behind some of Professionelle’s events) delved into how to unlock the best possible version of yourself and how to harness it on a daily basis. They covered topics such as positive psychology, signature strengths, psychometric testing (understanding yourself and how others relate to you), tangible approaches, techniques to enhance your own self-insight on a daily basis and how to help others achieve greater self-insight. Emma found this intimate and highly reflective workshop to be both informative and enlightening. It was a valuable workshop catered to professionals at all stages of their careers. It was particularly valuable for Emma as she is a graduate fresh out of university who is just in the developing stages of her career.

Picture1

A lot of content was covered in that afternoon of learning but here are some nuggets of wisdom. For instance all professional women should reflect and look inwards, as much as they look outwards on others. The best metaphor for self-insight is that it is like an iceberg because on the surface you have your conscious self that is known to yourselves and others. But then there is your unconscious self that lies deep beneath the surface. Often what lies beneath the surface is much bigger and complex than you realise. It is largely what defines you and makes you unique. What lies beneath the surface is also what commonly causes personality clashes with other people. However, such complexity and difference isn’t always a bad thing.

Picture2Although many people find it scary to delve into the layers of themselves, we are in the end social animals, and it is important to understand ourselves in order for others to understand us. It is particularly common for professional New Zealand women to not want to over emphasis their strengths. But we can develop an understanding of ourselves through the use of assessment tools. One valuable assessment tool is writing out one’s strengths, values and motivations. Simply writing things down can help to find clarity during bad times and understanding during good times. Once you do this then you can reflect on whether you overuse one strength over the others. If you do then you should make a personal goal to utilise more of your other strengths. It’s also important to understand the difference between your strengths and your values, as they are very different things. Then you should consider how they affect each other. It is good practice to reflect positively and constructively on your strengths because you will become the story you tell yourself.

Another important thing to consider, as a professional, is that everyone has a different path to success. No two people’s journey to success are the same, one person’s route to success may not be right for another because of their differing strengths, values and motivations. It’s also important to set boundaries at work to protect yourself from work-life conflict. Also you should always be kind to yourself and remember that your own wellbeing is a priority. It’s common for professional women, especially working mums, to forget to make themselves a priority. When really you shouldn’t feel bad for saying no every once in a while. You’re not super woman and it is not healthy to always feel tired. As human beings sometimes we forget that we don’t live to work, we work to live. Although we can’t always control our situation, we can change ourselves and our reactions to our situations. Following on, make sure you understand what your values are and set boundaries to protect them. But in all situations listen to your gut. If something feels wrong, it’s probably right.

The importance of storytelling for businesses

February 6, 2017

In 2016, Forbes referred to storytelling as the new strategic imperative of business. Here at Intelligent Ink, however, we don’t think it’s new at all. Ever since our inception we’ve known the absolute importance of telling stories. Just in case you’re still not convinced though, we’ve unpacked why we believe storytelling is so vitally important.

Telling storyIt’s all about connection

People care about organisations and brands that they feel connected to; it’s that simple. But how do you create connection? Think about how you make a friend… You sit down with someone and you share things about yourself. You enable them to get a feel for what you’re about – what drives you, what you like and dislike, what you value – the stuff that makes you uniquely ‘you’. We do that through telling them stories. The narratives we tell each other provide insights and allow us to connect. From there, a relationship is formed.

Well, at least, that’s how it worked in “the old days”. In our age of artificial connectivity, true connections are harder to come by. Storytelling may be somewhat old fashioned, but that’s exactly why it works to forge genuine connections. And it’s that that people are looking for. True connections, supported by real and authentic storytelling, are what is needed to cut through the ‘noise’ and the overwhelming excess that we have as consumers. Social media has made us more comfortable about the idea of conversing with businesses and brands, so there is a real opportunity to craft and share compelling stories.

The research says so

American researchers, based out of John Hopkins University, conducted a two year analysis of Super Bowl commercials in order to determine the specific strategies that most successfully sell products. While cute animals or sexy celebs may be one way to go, they found that plot development – the structure of the content, regardless of the content itself – was the biggest predictor of success. “People are attracted to stories because we’re social creatures and we relate to other people,” Keith Quesenberry, one of the researchers, explains.

Copy of Telling storyScience says so too

Other researchers believe this to be the case because storytelling evokes a strong neurological response too. Imagine this scenario: you’re watching or reading something that is set up as a narrative. You see the trials and tribulations of the characters and are along on the journey with them to reach a resolution. Now consider the science in our brains and bodies that goes along with that… Firstly, we produce the stress hormone, cortisol, during tense moments in the story; we’re focused, on edge and keen for a resolution. Then, when the happy ending comes, our limbic system – the brain’s reward centre – releases a seductive surge of dopamine, which lets us know that a resolution has been reached and makes us feel much better.

Not coincidentally, dopamine is the pleasurable ‘reward-driven’ substance in our brains that signals a success. It’s also the happy little brain chemical that makes us feel infatuation and this is where its presence is important for brands. If you want to win people over, you need to get them to release dopamine in your presence. And how can you do that? With the resolution of a happy story.

Stories incite action

There’s no shortage of stories and, in the deluge of content, it’s the compelling stuff that really makes us feel something that is going to actually make us do something. We think Harrison Monarth, author of The Confident Speaker, put it best when he said: “A story can go where quantitative analysis is denied admission: our hearts. Data can persuade people, but it doesn’t inspire them to act; to do that, you need to wrap your vision in a story that fires the imagination and stirs the soul.”

Stories make ideas stick. Stats and facts are all well and good, but it’s stories that will help us retain those points, when the data has faded from our memory. Further to that though, stories have the ability to inspire and motivate. Consider this prime example, as sourced from Hubspot:

In 2012, a pale woman with crazy eyebrows and a keytar strapped to her back made a video of herself, wearing a kimono and holding up hand-Sharpied signs on a street in Melbourne. One by one, the signs flipped, explaining that the woman had spent the last 4 years writing songs. She was a musician, and had parted ways with her record label, which had said the cost of her next album would be a whopping $500,000. She and her band mates were very happy to no longer be with the label, and had worked hard to create some great new music and art. But they couldn’t finish producing the record on their own. She needed people’s help to get it off the ground and to make what was now her business — independent music — work. “This is the future of music,” one of her signs read. Another, “I love you.”

She then posted the video on Kickstarter. In 30 days, it raised $1.2million. 24,883 people pre-ordered the album, bought artwork, or simply donated money. The album and tour became a huge success, and the artist turned her music into a real, profitable busin
ess. The woman in the kimono – if you haven’t heard this story already – was Amanda Palmer, who changed the game for independent musicians with that campaign. She did it, not by simply asking for money, but by telling her story.

So how do you tell a great story?  

In our opinion, the best stories surprise and delight. They’re real and authentic and honest. They provide a true insight into a brand, a business, or a person. They have compelling characters. They make us remember – sticking in our minds in a way that other bits of information don’t. The best stories keep it simple, focusing around one single important idea, theme or message.

Most importantly though (and the key to any great story) – they make us think and they make us feel. When you can get people to feel, you can get people to act. And THAT’S why storytelling is vital to business.

Your story goes here...

Everyone has a story to tell – why not tell yours? For help crafting a compelling story and connecting with your customers, just get in touch.

Clever copy: A salesman in written form

January 17, 2017

A copywriter is the ultimate salesperson, responsible for guiding a customer through their journey to purchase. However, compared to their chatty counterparts, they face an interesting challenge… Rather than being able to answer a customer’s questions in real time, they must anticipate what enquiries will arise – and then squelch any concerns with limited word count. They only have one chance to hold the reader’s attention – through a concise, yet persuasive, pitch.

Define the problem and anticipate their needs.

This wordsmith salesperson needs to get into the head of the customer. A copywriter must be “on both sides of the counter” – not just an advocate for the product or service they’re peddling, but an advocate for the shopper too. Know what problem your customer is trying to solve and present the ways your solution will enrich their lives.

Show them – don’t tell them.

Copywriters must be engaging. Rather than ticking off hard facts, appeal to the potential buyer’s emotions and thirst for valuable content. Help them visualise how their situation will be infinitely better once they’ve not only completed the purchase, but put the product to use.

Cut to the chase, but don’t jump the gun.

Effective copy doesn’t waste the reader’s time. It doesn’t rush the shopper straight to the sale, but rather slowly builds momentum to a final call to action. It takes readers by the hand and leads them to a point of decision. Even if they don’t complete a sale directly after reading, they feel they have a better understanding of the product and know where to go should they want to take that next step.

Old typewriterWhile the written content of a single ad is permanent, it’s not the end of the sales cycle. Like any proper salesperson, a copywriter has the opportunity to nurture the relationship and slowly gain the buyer’s trust. While copywriting always has a call to action, it can be used in many points of the sales process, for many different purposes. Maybe its aim is to set up your company’s CEO as a subject matter expert through a knockout bylined article. Or a cleverly wordsmithed social media post may encourage followers to participate in a contest, building your brand awareness and engagement.

These are perfect examples of how copy can transform a previously unengaged being into a tuned-in potential buyer. A sales cycle is often lengthy – a continuous education process that requires multiple touchpoints before conversion. It’s telling your brand’s story, and why it matters, instead of rushing anyone and everyone into a sale.

Intelligent Ink can help tell your story. We take the time to understand what makes your brand unique, and find the perfect channels for the written articulation of your objectives. Drop us a line, and we can get chatting about how we can walk your customers down the path to purchase through stellar copy.