Bryan Adams

Authentic Storytelling in an Age of Mass Marketing

By: Bryan Adams | November 16, 2015 | 
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Authentic Storytelling in an Age of Mass MarketingBy Bryan Adams

Research from Media Dynamics, Inc. has revealed the extent of the average adult’s daily exposure to marketing and advertising, and the results are shocking.

On average, we’re exposed to 5,000 ads or brand exposuresper day!

For consumers the world around, this endless maze of campaigns, stunts, and tricks has the tendency to overwhelm and desensitize. Brands need to strip back to the basics to succeed with their marketing campaigns. 

Community Over Network

If you’re reading this, I’m sure you can think of a few examples of poor, scattered, and dreary marketing.

These attempts fail to treat you as a living, breathing, thinking individual with a diverse array of likes and interests.

Far too often, brands see people as another figure to be gained in their quarterly report.

So, what is it that separates this banal conglomerate mass from brands that excite, stimulate, motivate and encourage us to live a more fulfilling life? 

I recently sat down with Ted Rubin, the most followed CMO on Twitter and one of the ‘Top 20 Social Media Power Influencers’ in the world, in a brand-new podcast series filmed by my team at Ph.Creative.

In the podcast, Ted explains how marketers can learn from the best by crafting a passionate story that wins over the heart and emotion of the individual. 

[Most brands are] using storytelling as an entertainment form to get your attention, instead of an emotional form to win your heart and mind and get you really involved. Commerce has come full circle; we now want to go back to the days when merchants really knew us.”

When brands create a personalized narrative—or a story that resonates with us on an individual level—we’re much more inclined to get involved. Ted calls this technique, “Looking people in the eye digitally.”

Consumers want to be heard, they share with each other, they’re interested in listening, and they will listen to you as a company if you share back with them. Brands have to learn to communicate differently.

Lead Acts to Follow

Certain brands have done this to stunning effect.

The Coca-Cola ‘Share a Coke’ campaign—which saw the 250 most popular first names for teens and millennials plastered on the front of bottles—drove Coca-Cola sales move than two percent worldwide.

The campaign took the Coke brand, a global giant with millions of seemingly faceless consumers, and made it personal by directly connecting it to millions of individuals around the world.

More recently, Bud Light has adopted a personalized marketing approach by releasing NFL team-themed cans.

Now, a consumer in Tennessee, who previously had no desire to drink Bud Light, can walk into his local liquor store and connect with the brand because it bears the Tennessee Titans’ logo and color scheme.

Though the idea isn’t revolutionary, it is storytelling at its best, by driving at how we view our place in the world.

Bud Light recognizes that, by tapping into humanity’s passion for sport, it can draw on these elemental feelings of love, support, and passion.

The Best Sales People Have Storytelling at Their Core

More companies could learn from authentic storytelling and personalization; for those stuck for clues, the answers can often come from within an organization itself, but more needs to be done to increase the dialogue between employees in a company.

Ted agrees:

We’re doing all this great work with omni-channel commerce, our store versus our website versus our mobile, but we’re forgetting about that same omni-channel approach within our own organization.”

The more that all internal departments speak to each other, the better positioned a company will be to truly understanding what engages their audience.

Turning Consumers into Brand Advocates

As Ted poignantly declares

A network gives you reach, but a community gives you power.

This power of community develops naturally when brands treat us with respect and add value to our lives. Think of those brands you’re proud to wear or use; whether you know it or not, these companies are helping to shape our lives and identities.

This is the ultimate goal of marketing: To promote exciting and engaging brands that contribute meaning and add valuable storytelling to our lives.

image credit: Pixabay

About Bryan Adams


Bryan Adams is CEO of Liverpool’s award-winning digital agency Ph.Creative and author of Getting Goosebumps. A strong leader with a background in communications, Bryan is a social media addict and inbound marketing strategist with a passion for contagious content and disruptive ideas.

  • I agree, Brian —- and you just can’t back your way into great storytelling IMO. My daughter is going to be doing a Disney College Program experience starting in January, and although she is way more of a DisneyPhile than I am, that’s exactly why it’s her working there and not me. I guess we still don’t know exactly how it’s going to shake out, but whatever story she tells as an employee will be backed up by having a genuine emotional attachment to bringing that story alive for the guests. That’s so different than being to just say or do the right things. It has to be backed up by the org’s culture (ideally).

  • BillSmith3

    Agree 110%

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