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Ever wondered why some websites churn leads out left and right while others fall flat? What makes for a great marketing website in 2019 versus a website that’s pretty-to-look-at but useless? Many companies still believe the marketing myth that their target audience will magically click if they design a beautiful website. There are tons of hideous sites bringing in 6, 7, or eight figures in sales to prove that wrong.

As a creative studio, what I’m about to say may be controversial, but design isn’t the be-all, end-all of digital marketing. It’s subjective and fleeting. Even if we could all agree on colors, styles, and graphical elements (unlikely), our choices would soon give way to next year’s trends. If you sit down and talk with many current design agencies, the first and only thing they’ll engage is design:

“The colors are all wrong.” (a problem for sure)

“The design looks outdated.” (a valid observation)

You’re using last year’s typography.” (those are fight’n words!)

It may be true that your old, outdated website is contributing to a lack of leads, but it’s not the only reason. Maybe not even the chief reason. There is something more fundamental, beyond design, that you have to address to make a modern website productive. If your marketing agency isn’t talking to you about it, run. So, what is it exactly?

Narrative.

How Marketing Becomes Transcendent

A few years ago, Gerber Knives published a great ad called “Unstoppable” on their website and Youtube channel. It was rough-and-tumble but full of grit and passion. More importantly, it was tasteful, meaning no cheap tricks like chicks in bikinis. Of course, it went viral, generating hundreds of thousands of likes, shares, and views. Gerber Knives succeeded where many marketers have tried and failed. Heck, it stopped me in my tracks and had me reaching for my credit card. (I sit at my computer all day, but I could use a new knife.)

It wasn’t the framing, pacing, or b-roll footage that grabbed my attention; it was the intensely personal message. It was the narrative.

“Hello, Trouble. It’s been a while since we last met. But I know you’re still out there…and I have a feeling you’re looking for me.”

With those words, they set the mood for one of the most outstanding branding ads I’ve ever seen.

What made their video so good? Something so subtle, yet so profound, that most loved but couldn’t put their finger on? No, Gerber Knives didn’t suddenly invent a new method of video advertising or discover advertising magic. They went back to the fundamentals and uncovered the soul of every suburban warrior in America. Then they wrote the narrative for them.

It was a marketing masterstroke. In a few short minutes, they tapped their audience’s hopes, dreams, and frustrations and played that story right back at them. Considering the stats, it worked.

The Dying Paradigm

There is a lesson in Gerber Knives’ viral video success. If we learn it and apply it to our marketing, we’ll be able to out-market and outlast the competition. Without it, however, and there’s a high likelihood your business and mine will be obsolete and forgotten. Not fifty years from now… more like ten. Possibly less.

robots are taking over the world

This shift is accelerating, driven by rapid, mass consumer adoption of voice-driven technology. Simply put: Voice-driven, narrative-based assistants are transforming how we humans interact with technology. Think about it. We all have or are already using some form of voice-activated assistants to do so much for us. Apple Siri. Amazon Alexa. Microsoft Cortana. Google Assistant.

“Hey Alexa, we’re out of laundry detergent.”

“Ok Google, what’s the best Mexican restaurant near me?”

“Hey Siri, What’s today’s forecast?”

Why are we mindlessly using these assistants at home but not preparing our digital marketing for it? Voice, words, and the phrases we use are literally transforming the way we interact with technology and with each other! Yet, so many companies are dangerously close to extinction because they’re still using an old marketing paradigm that elevates the graphical and visual at the expense of content.

How do you future-proof your digital marketing, websites, and strategies? Take a hard look at your brand story and narrative.

What investments are you making in story-driven content? Do you understand your audience or only think you do? Are you spending too much time making sure things look pretty (or possibly not at all) but too little time making your content clear and engaging?

It may be time to take a closer look at the narrative on your website and social channels. Learning to communicate your story might be the most important investment you’ll ever make; now and in the future. Ready to weave a powerful narrative into your digital marketing strategy? We can help.

Let’s start the Conversation

This One Change Can Future-Proof Your Digital Marketing
Kevin Mullins
August 07, 2019