Storytelling is magic for brands


The explosive growth of social media and content marketing means more opportunities to promote your brand. With so many companies vying for attention in the digital sphere, how do you stand out? The answer lies in engaging storytelling.

Creating a story around your product allows you to shape consumer brand perception. After years of declining sales, Apple rebounded after its 1997 “Think different” rebranding campaign.


Apple relied on its outsider status and imagery of iconic visionaries to compel customers to “rebel” by buying its products. The company successfully gambled on the concept of individuality – rather than technical capabilities – to sell computers.

At its core, storytelling isn’t a sales pitch. It’s meant to emotionally connect with consumers, in the process building loyalty, attracting new customers, and increasing brand visibility.

Beyond traditional television or print ads, the digital age has equipped marketers with new platforms for visual storytelling. Social media channels like Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, and Snapchat allow even the smallest company to gain a greater amount of exposure than with typical advertising – thanks to free or affordable posting options – with the added benefit of possible post amplification when fans share its content.

It’s key to follow a few guidelines for savvy social media storytelling.

  1. Use arresting visuals. Visual content, like photos, receive 40 times more shares and 90 percent more clicks than text-only content.
  2. Infuse your posts with personality. Use an informal voice in your writing to attract and retain your audience.
  3. Create magnetic characters. Your customers should root for your protagonist, even if it’s just short-form content, like Microsoft’s Instagram post above.
  4. Don’t give it all away. Posting teasers can lead to additional offline or mobile marketing opportunities.

How have you successfully used storytelling to sell your brand?


Multi-device mayhem: two-thirds of Hong Kong travelers book trips on three devices

Image by Toyotaboy95, en.wikipedia, CC-BY-SA-3.0
Image by Toyotaboy95, en.wikipedia, CC-BY-SA-3.0

If you’re a travel marketer, you’d better get your cross-platform strategy in order – and fast. A recent study found a whopping 65 percent of travelers in Hong Kong used three devices to book their flights.

Market research company GFK conducted a study among these travelers who would be making a trip during the following three months. The company sought to understand buyer behavior. How did the consumers purchase their tickets? How much time did they spend research their trip? What touch points were used?

Here’s what researchers discovered:

93.2% of respondents used a desktop/laptop to book their trip, two-thirds used three devices – but only 6.8% used just a tablet or mobile.

– Travelers spend five hours researching their trip, averaging 92 visits to 22 travel-related websites and apps before completing a purchase.

– Google’s the name of the game, as 91% of these travelers used a search engine to start their travel research. Touch points during the flight purchase path included travel aggregators and information sites (83%), travel booking sites (79%), airline websites (69%) and social networks (38%).

74% of respondents took action after they saw an advertisement in a newspaper or magazine. Over half of respondents said their travel plans were triggered by TV or radio ads. That’s your cue, marketers! Time to come up with some brilliant copy.

Need some ideas to jump-start your cross-platform marketing strategy? Get started with these gems:

  • Understand audience demographics driving each platform to tailor your content. Hint: Instagram is where the kids hang out and Facebook is friendly with the over-30 crowd.
  • Gauge the popularity of your content by tracking web and social media statistics. What links did your audience click on the most?
  • Activate campaigns that connect with actual people. Everyone likes an inventive marketing ploy, especially if they can enjoy it again and again on YouTube.
  • Empower marketing teams to pursue best practices. Get those high-impact creatives in gear to engage your audience.

Will your next flight be BYOD – Bring Your Own Device – as airlines offer streaming inflight content?

via CNN/United

Gone are the days where plane passengers squint at TV monitors five rows ahead, straining for the punchline in the latest Adam Sandler movie. Effective this April, United Airlines will stream inflight content directly to your iOS device on select aircraft. The initial rollout will affect Airbus A319, Airbus A320, Boeing 747-400 and select 777-200 aircraft. Nearly every plane in the fleet will have this new ability by the end of 2014.

With UA’s iOS app or a laptop, passengers will have access to more than 150 movies and about 200 TV shows. Though everything seems to cost money now – even those once-ubiquitous pretzels – the content will be free to enjoy.

Other airlines are getting into the streaming game, including Lufthansa, Japan Airlines, SITA, and Southwest Airlines, all in various stages of development.

Looks like your next personal carry-on item may be popcorn.

So your mobile email marketing campaign sucks

via C4 Universe
via C4 Universe

…let’s fix it.

Mobile use is impacting marketing campaigns in a big way. Most people grab their nearest device when they want to check their email and more often, that device is a smartphone. Recent Nielsen data indicates more than 50 percent of U.S. mobile subscribers own smartphones, a number that continues to grow. More numbers for you: In the first six months of 2012, 36 percent of all emails were opened on a mobile device, according to a study by Knotice.

So my question for you: is your email marketing campaign fresh, timely, and all-around amazing? If the answer’s yes, terrific. You can stop reading now. If your campaign could use a makeover, consider the following best practices:

  • Find out how many of your clients are mobile by checking your delivery reports, which should say how subscribers open your email and what kind of device they’re using. If the numbers are large, this helps to justify investment in improving your system.
  • Use a mobile-friendly template to cater to the most popular devices. You can find templates on sites like MailChimp and Campaign Monitor.
  • Create quality, compelling content for your audience to turn your subscribers into repeat consumers.
  • Think about the best layout type for your content. Single-column layouts are attractive on mobile devices, but a study found users frequently encountered difficulties with the text size. Multi-column layouts allow users to zoom into the text in each column without having to scroll from left to right.
  • Is your font size easy to read? Apple recommends a font size of 17-22pts in mobile emails. Test your font often to see if it holds up.
  • Be kind to your subscribers: follow standard email practices, including having an unsubscribe link as well as a link to a web version of the email.

Have you successfully used any other tips or tricks in past email mobile marketing campaigns?

Thousands of Starbucks… for Square Wallet

image via

I’ll confess: I’m a Starbucks addict. Give me a tall, venti, grande anything and I am set for the rest of the day. So we have some particularly exciting news coming out of Square Wallet today: the mobile payment system just added 7,000 Starbucks locations to its roster.

Starbucks customers are already fairly savvy when it comes to mobile payments. In fact, its loyal base uses the official Starbucks app more than two million times per week. That’s a lot of coffee.

There are a few differences between the two apps. With the Starbucks mobile payment system, customers have to load a prepaid card, which is then stored on a phone. With Square Wallet, consumers can choose to pay with a credit or debit card. However, the Starbucks app has a slight edge: after a certain number of orders, customers can earn free drinks.

Regardless of which mobile payment system you choose, it is decidedly a good day for coffee lovers everywhere.