When you work in marketing, it’s easy to get distracted by the latest app, channel, social network or design trend.
Facebook Live and Persicope! We’ve GOT to start broadcasting live video. Infographics? Of course we need to tell our visual story. Animated video? Yes, our B2B widgets will look awesome as cute drawings!
Consider Instagram Stories, the Snapchat-like instant photo- and video-sharing feature is getting a lot of attention from users and marketers alike. It’s an interesting feature that has the potential to create new connections between brands and customers. It might be an idea you’re dying to try, but just because you want to use it doesn’t mean you’re ready to use it.
Because before you drop everything in search of creating the best “new thing,” you must establish the story you want to tell.
Story before tactics. Always.
A story explains why. It helps create the connection between your brand and your customers. It’s the anchor that helps guide everything you do. It’s memorable and it explains your reason for doing everything.
A brand story explains why your company was founded and what problem it solves. This is obviously the first story to tell. If you get it right, you’ll build trust with your audience.
You should also tell stories about your customers, your evolution and even your employees.
Tactics should support these stories.
Focusing on tactics before you’ve got your story down is a haphazard approach that will most likely result in low engagement and, depending on specifics, could even cost you some customers. A tactics-before-story approach might yield something that doesn’t feel quite right to your audience, and they’ll see through it immediately. When you stop being authentic, you’ll start losing customers.
Just take a look at some of the marketing fails that happen each year. When Apple and U2 teamed up in 2014 to “give away” U2’s new album and add it automatically to every iTunes user’s account, it was deemed “worse than spam.”
Nesquik’s “National Bunny Ears Day” urged people to download a “Bunnyfier” app that would put bunny ears on people’s heads in photos. Asking people download the app, take pictures and tag photos with their made-up holiday, #NationalBunnyEarsDay, on social media was asking a little too much. In this case, Nesquik tried to tell a story of how Nesquik makes life fun. They supported it with the fake holiday, the app and the hashtag, but people just didn’t buy it.
We’re not saying you can’t try new tactics. Sometimes new opportunities to reach your audience present themselves and it’s smart to be one of the first brands to take advantage of it. But the tactic has to fit into the story you’re trying to tell. Otherwise, you might end up with one big #marketingfail.