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Cintia Miranda Cintia Miranda
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Website: pulsemarketingagency.com

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Storytelling: the art of marketing to the masses in the 21st century

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The year was 1997. I had just landed my first marketing job in Boston and I was super excited. It was a pretty sweet gig and I could not wait to learn everything I could from 'the experts.'

My first task was pretty straightforward I was asked to call the mail list broker and get a lease on a mailing list of 15,000 people in Massachusetts based on a somewhat broad demographic criteria. Done, check. My second task, talk to the design guy and get him to change the date on the previous year's save-the-date card, and maybe change the color. But wait! I had just come across tons of boxes of said postcards in the storage room and had an amazing, brilliant idea we should just put a sticker on the date and save on print costs.

So we did it. We mailed the postcards out to the masses with the stickers. We had cast our net as wide as we could and hoped for the best. The response was great, and loads of people on that rental mailing list showed up to our open house event. My boss was super happy and presented me with a Dunkin' Donuts gift certificate booklet for a job well done (this pre-dates the gift certificate cards you see today. They were books of five $1 coupons so you could use a single dollar at a time, and yes, a cup of coffee was $1 back then!)

There used to be a formula to marketing. Companies with big budgets, which was the case of my employer at that time, had access to broadcast media and enough funds to make the TV, radio, billboard and newspapers sales reps in Boston want to be our best friends. They would take us out to lunch, stop by with huge trays of food, give us front row tickets to concerts, plays and games. It was like an endless parade of sales people coming and going trying to win our hearts and a bigger slice of our marketing budget. All I had to do was follow a proven recipe to marketing success and enjoy the ride.

Almost two decades have gone by, and none of those sales people call me anymore. They're not my friends on Facebook and they don't follow me on Twitter. But it's not personal, it's business. Many of them are no longer in the same business. Like me, if they were smart enough, they evolved in their careers and learned that broadcast marketing is no longer the way our customers want to consume media. In fact, customers can't wait to delete our email marketing messages, and they prefer to skip most (if not all) TV and radio commercials. They have become ninjas at blocking marketing information.

So how do marketers survive in a world where people don't welcome our marketing messages? Simple. We engage with them by telling stories where our customers are the heroes, not our brands. Storytelling works for everyone and is available to all businesses, regardless of budget size, because all you really need is imagination, creativity and good writing skills.

Marketing has changed from one-to-many to one-to-one over the past two decades. People prefer to do business with companies that they connect with and the way to earn their trust is through storytelling. We want to 'wow' our customers with stories they want to share with others and hope that others will share it too, so it can ultimately go viral. But that is up to them. They'll decide whether or not our story is worth sharing, not our marketing budgets.

Why is storytelling so compelling? Because people remember stories that have touched them in some emotional way. People relate to stories, not ads and commercials. They can see themselves in a story and associate it with their own lives. That's when the magic happens people resonate with the content, talk about it and share it with others.

Storytelling is the number one marketing tool for today's savvy marketers. We must help our customers discover the benefits of our products and services through stories they can relate to. We want to provide information about how our products and services can help solve the needs, challenges and desires of our customers in a way that helps us develop a one-to-one relationship with them.

This is not a novel concept. Stories have existed since the dawn of humanity. We have all told stories to each other to make a point and to share experiences, and we've all listened to stories to learn and to make better choices in life. The only novel part about storytelling as a marketing tool is how we share the stories via the web today we have the ability to reach the whole entire world, but competition is more fierce than ever and only the fittest will survive.

There's an art to good marketing content. Take a moment to pay attention to the most powerful campaigns you've seen lately and you'll notice that they all tell a story you can relate to on a personal level.

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