5 Ultimate Story-Selling Tips To Expand Your Brand Presence & Reach

Vivek Pandey, VP, Revenue Strategy<br>(Colombia Audience Network).Headquartered in Noida, Columbia is one of India's largest network of Advertisers & Marketers specializing in Self Serve, Native Advertising, Digital Marketing, Content Recommendation, Contexual Marketing, Publishing Platform, Smart Publishing, and Publication Monetization areas.

Growing a business may seem like a complex affair. Why, one may ask? After all, we live in an age where Google Analytics lets marketers track the average conversion rate of each webpage, and Facebook Ads and Google AdWords allow bids for leads and sales. This is because, irrespective of the tools available, it remains indispensable to discover a profitable niche by defining a target demographic and then appealing to that TG. Whether a brand is selling products, services or simply knowledge or news, irrespective of analytics tools and digital channels at disposal, only the right branding & marketing strategy will help it register sustained profits.

Why focus on branding, when it is so much easier to track PPC and SEO results? Digital marketing activities are outcome oriented and metric driven, while branding is a deliberate, subjective process that is both an art and science. This is unfortunate because building a strong, trusted and purpose-led brand is a powerful differentiating asset for any business, especially in today’s highly competitive crowded markets.

Here are five tips to help marketers establish, expand and strengthen a brand’s digital brand presence and reach in an effective manner:

The Irresistible Power of Storytelling as a Strategic Business Tool
Stories have a profound effect on the listener - stories are what our lives are made-up of, stories are how we remember people, and stories make us feel a little less alone in the world. The art of storytelling cuts across histories and cultures as the single most important communication form. Your brand is a story and only as good as you tell it, to yourself and your customers. Mission, Vision, Strategy, and possibly even Profits flow from it. So the first thing we should do when we are thinking about building brands, is to think ‘What’s the story here?’.

Render Stories
Stories have to be rendered and rendition is an art in itself. Be it dastangoi, puppetry, pandwani or good old fables, the rendition is as, if not
more, important as the story. Your story can become your employee culture, your next marketing video, your blog or website, a news article in some trusted publication or a series of banner ads running on four faces of a cube ad format. It is something very specific, and more about the medium than the message itself.

Don’t blindly take your television ad and run it on digital video; don’t take your newspaper ad and plaster it on the homepage of all news websites. Work with the owners of media and co-create digital appropriate renditions of your stories. Industry leaders in digital cocreation are BBC Storyworks, Economist’s ‘Thought that Counts’. In India, Times Internet’s Spotlight Partner with Brands renders digital-first stories.

Amplify Stories
There is an idiom in the Hindi language - ‘Jungle mein mor nacha, kisne dekha’. Translated in plain English it means what is the use of the dance of a peacock in a jungle when no one is there to see it. It is similar to the English saying that one shouldn’t hide one’s light under a bushel. And all of this ultimately implies that there is not much use of an awesome story or it’s rendition, unless it reaches a critical mass, the ‘tipping point’. But this amplification need not be through a loudspeaker - it can be through a community network that builds traction through identified influencer nodes. It need not be a fixed banner ad, but a targeted native ad running on adtech platforms. Gone are the times when an advertiser putup an ad and hoped for the TG to read it.

Choose Who to Tell the Story to
We all know that marketing begins with a target group of consumers, or TG. Unlike the earlier definition of TG, the audience is not a homogenous identity. Marketers today define their TG sharply, contextualizing on the basis of usage patterns, psychographic triggers and other nuances. Here’s where Adtech comes in. Colombia has more than 7000 addressable audience segments among its 520 million+ users, enabling marketers with the needed flexibility to define their target audience. Coupled with its Machine Learning capabilities, a marketer can optimise his campaign for better performance, all of this neatly hidden behind a self serve interface. Your agencies or marketing teams can easily find the best audience for a particular campaign and ensure that the story is heard loudly by all the right ears.

Your agencies or marketing teams can easily find the best audience for a particular campaign and ensure that the story is heard loudly by all the right ears

Listen to their Stories
It is not a one-way street and there is no such thing as a passive audience. This truism is getting truer with the evolution of generations from X to Y and now Z. Gen-Z is not the listening type. Have open arms and open channels to listen and process the stories your audience have to share. Not all of them would make you feel good, some of them may not even sound relevant right now - but it is in these brutally honest, shamelessly public and emotionally personal stories that the future of your brand lies. Shutting your eyes and ears won’t stop the video or the music. Responsible media houses would allow you to take data back, take learnings back, not create walled gardens that rob you of a direct connect with your consumers. Invest in media that welcome deep partnerships and can also do custom research & insights for you, not one-size-fitsall standard dashboards. Campaigns on reputed adtech platforms are dovetailed with consumer research, dedicated account management and deep insights, so that you take away not just conversions, but learnings from every campaign you do.

And if none of this makes sense, don’t over complicate. Forget catchy headlines, memorable visuals, narrow or wide funnels and lower CPAs. Just get down straight to thinking in stories, and whispering them loudly into relevant ears.