Why storytelling through screens will never beat the real thing

People are spending more time on their phones than ever before, but the solution to real branding cut-through could be… real life? Laura Roberts believes the best storytelling doesn’t happen through a screen.

The trusty smartphone and tablet have enriched our lives in more ways than one, however it’s fair to say that these devices have also contributed to a serious decline in our attention spans. We’re more connected than ever, but we’re also more easily distracted than ever.

Take the research released by Nielsen earlier this year, which found that these gadgets are continuing to gain momentum. The amount of time Australians aged over 18 spent on their smartphones this February was up by 12% compared to the same time last year, and tablet usage rose by 10%.  

It’s never been so important for brands to stand out from the crowd and devise new ways to not only grab, but maintain, the attention of their potential and existing customers, but how?

Instant brand advocates

Being able to tell a story is one thing, possessing the ability to share that story in a compelling way is another. This is where live brand storytelling comes in.

Real-life experiences have the ability to connect the heart, mind and body to a brand – something that no other medium can do. With events, consumers are no longer separated from a business by a screen or printing press. Instead they are able to become truly immersed in its world.

This approach has the ability to transform the way consumers think and feel about a brand, as guests learn about its ethos, products and services through seeing, touching, hearing and even smelling.

Countless reports and studies highlight that this type of storytelling has a long-lasting impact on consumers. One report from Event Marketer surveyed both attendees and event marketing brand executives. The 2018 instalment found 85% of consumers are likely to make a purchase after attending an event, meanwhile 91% reported that their feelings were more positive towards a brand after engaging in an experience it had created.

Another report by Bizzabo highlights that live brand storytelling is firmly on marketers’ radar too. Of those c-suite executives surveyed, 87% recognised that live events will become increasingly important to the success of their brands.

Tips for effective live brand storytelling

There are a number of tactics our teams at INVNT employ to ensure the experiences we create and deliver for our clients engage their most important audiences, and ultimately ensure they achieve their goals.   

Engage stakeholders in the event evolution process

While they might not be so obvious at first, we recognise that every brand has a unique and interesting story to tell. In order to extract information about a company’s products, services, ethos, target audience and the industry in which it plays, we subsequently choose to conduct focus groups. Here we’ll engage a cross-section of stakeholders, such as key executives within a company, industry influencers, and key customers.

During these sessions we’ll aim to find out what’s important to participants, what it is that keeps them up at night, and the features or elements that would prompt them to take the time out of their schedule to attend an event. These insights not only inform the ideation process (more on that below), they allow us to set KPIs in partnership with the client, which demonstrate ROI on the experience and further validate the effectiveness of live brand storytelling.

Simplify the message

The information gained through these focus groups, and through the many encounters that are had with the client along the way, is funnelled into to our proprietary methodology, a process that takes us – and our clients – from the ‘why’ to the ‘what.’

Here we’ll identify and simplify a brand’s key messages, weaving them together to ensure they tell a story, and a memorable one at that. Once this is achieved, these individual messages are used to inform the ideation, design and execution of a live experience (or series of) – ensuring a brand’s stories are told in a consistently compelling way.    

Adopt a purposeful creative approach

Central to this process is purposeful creative – it’s important to avoid implementing lavish live moments for the sake of it. Instead, ensure that each and every element of the experience represents the brand and the story they are looking to tell.

Create social sharing opportunities

We live in a truly digital world today, and this has given rise to the phenomenon that is citizen journalism. Every attendee is now equipped to share whatever is being designed, produced and executed at an event to a much wider audience, so much so, that the social amplification surrounding an event has become an effective way to gauge its success.

This is because when live brand storytelling is executed effectively, and audiences are treated to experiences that inspire and challenge the status quo, they are compelled to share their experiences with others.

In an interesting turn of events, those experiences with compelling stories are in fact driving social. It’s now not uncommon to see an increase in social media activity in the lead up to and during an event – take Coachella for example. There is often a spike in social media usage and engagement as festival-goers wish to share their experiences with others, and those not there want to see what they are missing out on.  

 

I am a firm believer that every physical interaction between a brand and a brain is electric. We’ve never been so connected, yet at the same time more and more of us yearn for those participatory face-to-face interactions, which we ironically also love to share digitally.

This is why live brand storytelling is such a potent form of marketing today – it allows brands to exist in a simultaneous live and virtual state as they build loyalty and trust among their audiences. It enables attendees to participate in meaningful experiences that enhance their own lives, turning customers into instant brand advocates.

Laura Roberts is managing director of INVNT APAC.

 

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Image credit:Horizon Church