Brand Storytelling: Marketing in the age of Ad-blockers
June 7, 2021
Why Stories Matter
As a business owner trying to expand your online presence, the most pressing and frustrating issue is simply the fact that most ads never reach their intended audience. Marketing experts estimate that more than 27% of internet users in the U.S. alone use ad blockers regularly. Even without ad blocking extensions, most of us have developed psychological ad-blockers after years of repetitive marketing tropes have saturated the online playing field. So with so many of us seeing little to no return on investment in our marketing efforts, how can you effectively convey your message to potential clients?
The answer is simple but admittedly difficult: leave the overused, underperforming method of traditional advertising behind and start telling stories that clients will actively consume, engage, and share. Your content shouldn’t be avoided, it should be actively searched for to the point where it doesn’t feel like advertising at all.
Ad-Blockers as Digital Immune Systems?
Think of it this way: Ad-blockers are the immune systems of each user's online existence. Ideally, immune systems don’t attack healthy cells and tissue. They attack harmful, disease-carrying bacteria that can be easily segmented and removed to keep the unit healthy and functional. Overtime, internet users have started to see digital ads in the exact same way and, whether through software or psychologically, have filtered them out from their desired content streams. The key here then is to create content that belongs in a user's digital immune system. Content that works with their regular viewing habits and not against them.
Easier said than done, right? That’s specifically why most agencies don’t bother addressing this digital elephant in the room. As we at Duco have experienced firsthand, it takes time, planning, and precise direction to develop this method. Fortunately, our reputation has been built upon crafting compelling stories that seize the imagination of your target audience.
3 Steps to Telling a Compelling Brand Story
Step 1: Define Your Vision
The only way to achieve high-level, consistent user engagement is to tell a genuine story about who you are and why you’ve chosen to do what you do. It’s understandable then that the first step in the process is establishing your differentiators, target audience, and overall brand identity. While it’s helpful to reverse-engineer your viewpoint to determine what you know about your clients, it’s equally important to ask yourself the hard questions. You know better than anyone that building a business is extremely difficult - so why are you really doing this? Focus on your brand’s values, overall mission, and see how they all connect to the bigger vision of what you want to achieve.
Step 2: Promote Your Story
You’ve established a unique, personal viewpoint; now you have to convey why your viewpoint matters. Someone important to the business (an owner, partner, executive, etc.) will have to take the lead in sharing your brand’s vision as a larger, overarching story. One common method is aligning with a larger cause or purpose that coincides with your core values. Speak on how your product, workplace, or brand culture reflects your commitments to an environmental, social, political, or charitable effort (ex. environmental sustainability).
Another option is to highlight the unusual background or origin story. The key here is relatability on behalf of the viewer. In one of our most successful marketing campaigns, we told the story of how the head rooster at a coffee company had a fascinating story behind discovering his passion for brewing (click here for his personal story). Promoting this video helped grow the company’s brand substantially because they combined a fantastic product with a story that helped the public identify with the company. The key is to adapt your story to your specific clientele because you’re not selling a product or service, you’re selling an experience, a philosophy, and everything that goes into the brand. Transparency will ultimately be your greatest differentiator and promoter of brand loyalty.
Step 3: Nurture Your Audience
Developing a content ecosystem gives you and your business a constant stream of feedback and engagement. This does not happen overnight, and requires continued cultivation and maintenance to keep followers interested and engaged. The goal here is to create what’s called a “tribal following”. As we explain in more detail here, a tribal following in an advertising context is a tight-knit community based on the foundational stories and values that define your brand. This sense of shared values is built by creating quality content and encouraging engagement to the point where it occurs naturally and independently. You don’t just want people identifying and consuming, you want them to become ambassadors of the brand who will freely advertise your products and services for you. This level of community engagement ensures that the ecosystem you’ve built can be, to a degree, self-sustaining and self-expanding. Essentially, the key takeaway is to create binge-worthy, relatable content that aligns with your ideal client profile and then nurture an ecosystem to keep this audience engaged.
Should I Hire an Agency?
Regardless of size, experience, or annual revenue, every company can benefit from this methodology. However, not every business should go searching for a marketing agency. It’s our professional opinion that a business should not hire an agency until it reaches substantial revenues from founder driven growth. Any business hitting below this benchmark should focus on generating its own content and social media presence before outsourcing marketing work.
Once this revenue mark is hit however, that’s when agencies truly bring the most value via a combination of technical skill and strategic analysis. Duco’s experience in content creation and strategy evaluation will be vital at this point to focus your efforts more precisely and further develop your brand's story given the new growth it has experienced. In addition, our analytics software and ads manager experience will help us analyze, follow, and predict emerging trends with precise micro-adjustments. Ultimately, the purpose of our combined efforts will be to craft a compelling story, share it with the right people, and nurture their interest overtime.