the blog.

AKA a great spot to find marketing advice, inspirational tidbits, and fun articles about the power of story. Enjoy!

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Marketing Trends That Have Caught Our Attention

If I’m being completely honest, keeping up with the trends can be exhausting. We are constantly being told that if we don’t do this or if we don’t do that, we’re doing something wrong. And, sometimes… they do have a point. Although, when you hear about a trend, finally adopt it, and then a few months later it’s irrelevant, it can be pretty frustrating. 

Are you feeling this same way? If so, I’ve come up with a few ‘trendy’ marketing tactics that will never go out of style (at least not for a while).

    1. Less SEO, more value 

In the last few years, it’s been all about SEO.

SEO this, SEO that… we were all convinced that if our website wasn’t optimized, we wouldn’t get the attention, and we wouldn’t get the sales. 

Yes, if you can optimize your website, sales pages, and blog posts for search engine traffic without sacrificing the value of your content, then by all means… go for it! Although, don’t forget that SEO will never be more important than the value you deliver. 

If the messaging you’re delivering is valuable in and of itself, that is number one… always. Optimization is secondary. 

Remember the algorithms that we all know and love (or hate)? They are getting smarter, meaning it’s getting harder to ‘hack’ the algorithm in our favour. 

So instead of playing a game of cat and mouse with the algorithm, try narrowing in on what really matters within your messaging. 

Take the pressure off of trying to land on page one of Google, and instead focus on your customers and the value they walk away with after visiting your website. 

And a hot tip, Google is prioritizing quality content above all else!

    1. LINKEDIN, LINKEDIN, LINKEDIN

LinkedIn is growing!

LinkedIn has never really been considered one of the big players in social media networks, mainly because it’s geared towards a particular market – professionals looking to connect with other professionals. 

Although, LinkedIn has recently seen massive growth in its active users and platform engagement. 

Recent stats from Business Insider tell us that:

  • LinkedIn drives 46% of social traffic to B2B sites;
  • LinkedIn is considered the most credible source for content.

Are you on LinkedIn? This year might be the year to use this platform to your advantage!

    1. Online events & live video

Video and online events have been on the rise for years, and this year is no exception. 

Online events, such as webinars, master classes, and lives, are one of the most popular ways for people to connect with the brands and businesses they follow, no matter where they are in the world. 

According to Sprout Social, half of social media users said they prefer video content, and 85% of users want more videos from brands.

While we might be cringing at the idea of putting our faces on video, the data says that, yes, video does work!

***

Did any of these trends resonate with you? Which one would you consider incorporating into your marketing strategy?

Why should you be telling your story?

Storytelling is everywhere.

Think about famous leaders throughout history; what made them so persuasive?

Popular social movements, what made them so engaging?

Your favourite novels, what makes them so appealing?

The last movie that made you laugh or cry, what about it grabbed your attention?

The underdog, the comeback kid, the rags to riches, the quest, etc…

The fairy tale ending, the unhappy ending, the tragedy…

Stories appeal to us in different ways. Some resonate with us stronger than others.

But, the truth is… the right stories sell.

I came across an article written by Jonathan Gottschall, “Why storytelling is the ultimate weapon.” Personally, I really don’t like using “war” analogies in marketing, and for me, marketing is never a weapon; however, he makes a good point with this…

He explains that when we read facts, we keep our guard up. With hard facts, we are searching for inconsistencies and not always taking the information at its face value. Do you do this?

Whereas stories disarm us. We drop our intellectual guard and look for ways to connect it to our own experiences.

In business, stories can take on many forms…

The origin story.

Customer experience stories.

Stories in ads and campaigns.

These are all opportunities to share who and what our business is at its foundation and most importantly why we exist. This showcases our brand’s values and helps consumers feel a deeper connection to our companies. 

“We rely on data to tell us what has happened, and stories to tell us what it means.”

Nancy Duarte

Yes, data still tells a story, but it doesn’t drive the heart of our messaging. And although its tempting to deliver data driven information, unless we’re attaching story to data, it isn’t what’s going to be remembered.

What stories can you share in your business? How can you gain a deeper connection with your customers or clients through strategic storytelling?

 

my Personal Values

I have always liked the work of Jim Collins. On a recent podcast, he talked about personal values. So, of course, he had my complete attention! He talked about pushing yourself hard to determine your values, asking if someone had observed you over the last year, what would they say were your values?

One of my personal core values is creativity. I found my way to understanding how important this value was to me when I least expected it.

My husband and I have twin boys, and when they were first born, it was a little overwhelming – ok, a lot overwhelming! My parents came out to stay with us, and when they walked through the door, they knew! The dark circles under our eyes were one giveaway, the glazed expression another. We were exhausted! Our happy bouncing baby boys were anything but exhausted. Within 5 minutes, my dad said, “Jan, you and I will take the night shift, and Mom will take the day shift.” They were baby people! Both of them could soothe a crying baby innately.

One afternoon while I was resting, my Mom was getting busy. First, she labelled and alphabetized our spices (that is another great story.) She also found my creative nook. Since the boys had arrived, it hardly resembled a creative nook, more like a dumping ground for all kinds of paraphernalia. She found some of my unfinished sketches, random art supplies, and ideas scribbled on scrap paper. She organized the whole area so that it was fresh and ready for creating.

When I woke up, she said, “your Dad and I are taking the boys for a walk. You take some time for yourself and wander over to your desk.” Mothering was wonderful and yet all-consuming. I thought I would never have time for creative endeavours again. I was sure that side of my brain was asleep! I drifted over and started to dabble. As I connected with my creative self, I realized what my Mom knew long before I did that being able to create is essential to my being (my Mom and I happened to share that value).

Since then, I have always respected and nourished this value within myself. I need space and time to create and imagine in order to optimize my best self. This is when I am most aligned and do my best work. It connects me to my center, grounding me. From there, anything seems possible.

For me, the creative process challenges me to drive invention, discovery, and curiosity. It is also at this junction where I have had spectacular successes and failures, often in equal measure and sometimes at the same time (many future blogs worthy of these examples so stay tuned)!

As purpose-driven leaders, we need to know our own core values. Our values will inform our purpose, and when we are aligned, we will have the impact on the world we know we can. Living and leading from our values is our most effective and effortless way to put our own unique stamp on the world.

It sounds easy, but the process can be challenging. Capturing your core values and finding a way to live by them is worth the effort.

And we are here for it!

If you are ready to put your purpose and values into words and action, The Story Co.’s Leaders Journey to Purpose might be just the course for you.

Interested? Email us at janet@thestoryco.ca, and let’s create your path to purpose.

Pixar’s Lessons for Great Storytelling

The word Pixar, for me, is full of nostalgia.

The memories are visceral and countless.

I have just called in sick to school, lying on the couch, bundled up in a pile of blankets, binge-watching my favourite movies – Toy Story, Monster’s Inc, Finding Nemo, to name a few. 

I was glued to the television screen for hours and hours, completely enveloped by the characters, the adventure, the story. 

At The Story Co., we think A LOT about storytelling. What makes a great story, what stories are worth telling, and what is the best way to share these stories?

And, in the spirit of storytelling, Pixar knows a thing or two about exactly that. 

Initially, Pixar’s Rules for Storytelling were shared via Twitter by a former Pixar employee, Emma Coats. In a series of tweets, she explained that these rules were a mix of things she had learned from Pixar’s writers, directors, and coworkers speaking about their craft, paired with her own efforts in making films. 

Her intent in sharing these wasn’t to create any hard and fast rules in how we approach storytelling. Rather, they were shared to jump-start the brainstorming process, begin the conversations, and help flex our creative muscles. 

While there are a total of 22 rules included, my picks are ones that I believe are applicable to not only storytelling but also offer some pretty great life lessons. And, as a story junkie myself, life lessons are something that I think storytelling is pretty great at. 

Admire characters for attempting more than what their successes have been.

I think we can all agree with this statement. 

We shouldn’t be defined by our successes or our failures. Rather, it’s the space in between where our character is developed – the behind-the-scenes, working our a$$ off to get to where we are at now or where we want to get to down the line.

And, let’s be honest, a protagonist who never fails at anything and never experiences any sort of conflict is, well, unlikely to grab anyone’s interest.

Stories have struggle, empathy, and ultimately our admiration for a character derives from us being able to see and relate to their adversities.  

Why must you tell this story in particular? What’s the belief burning within you that your story feeds off? That’s the heart of it.

I love this one as it relates so strongly to purpose. 

What about this story lights your heart on fire? 

Essentially, this rule is getting us to dig deep.

It’s all about ignoring the noise and really narrowing in on exactly what we need to share and the reason we need to share it.

It’s about creating a solid foundation so that we can craft complicated characters and intricate plot lines.  

No work is ever wasted. And if it’s not working, let go and move on — if it’s useful, it’ll show up again.

A great tip to avoid writer’s block! But I also really love the overarching idea that no work is ever wasted. 

Whether it is finding the right story to tell or REALLY anything else in life… trial and error is how we learn.

To find out what’s right for us, we have to try out ideas, we have to refine these ideas, and if they don’t work… we change them and try again. 

As they say, all vision is revision.

Storytelling isn’t about picking one thing and sticking to it. It’s adaptable and malleable.

And, if they say it takes 10,000 hours to master a skill, then practicing your craft doesn’t mean getting it right every time.

Putting it on paper only allows you to start fixing it. If a perfect idea stays in your head, you’ll never share it with anyone.

Now, this rule might seem blatantly obvious. Although, I think it’s always a great reminder in avoiding “perfection paralysis”. 

Like the previous rule, understanding that the first draft isn’t going to be the final copy alleviates the pressure to get it right the first time. 

Someone once gave me this advice that you’re never going to feel 100% ready. If we wait until we reach that, it’s never going to happen. 

Sometimes we just need to start with all the information we have right now and then move forward from there. 

At the end of the day, we have to risk failing in order to get to where we want to go. And, if we fail? We revise and try again.

***

We are all storytellers in our own way. As a storyteller yourself, which rule resonated with you the most? 

Stellar Storytellers . Jane Campion

Wow there were a lot of stories about the Oscars last week!!

We think the best story was Jane Campion’s win! 

Jane made history at 94th annual Academy Awards for her western drama “The Power of the Dog.”

At 67, she is the first woman to be nominated twice in the directing category this year and the third woman to ever win Best Director. 

Poised and gracious during her speech, we were inspired by her dedication to her craft – carving the way for women to enter into this otherwise male-dominated and extremely ageist industry. 

“I love working with women — they’re maternal, outspoken, emotional, and talented.”

During her acceptance speech, she beautifully highlighted the role of the storyteller and the power and impact that storytelling can have on our world. 

“I love directing because it is a deep dive into stories, yet the task of manifesting a world can be overwhelming.”

Stories persuade and inspire, sow hope, make a difference… they connect with our emotions and can inspire people to act, to bring about change. As a storyteller, Jane bravely shared this story with the world.

How can we not love this kind of inspiration that says loud and clear, that mastery has nothing to do with age or gender. And everything to do with continuous development of your craft.

With other nominees in this category being Kenneth Branagh, Ryûsuke Hamaguchi, Paul Thomas Anderson, and Steven Spielberg – Jane’s golden statue shines brightly for women everywhere!

We always have a choice in which stories we choose to celebrate and who we hold up. Choosing this one felt important to us!

 

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