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The audience is exhausted. You’ve spent a lifetime seeing – and ignoring – ADs. It’s just noise now. Get online and it won’t get any better. Banner. Popups. Every social media platform is now controlled by algorithms that float or sink the message.
Shlomi Ron finds a way around this.
You know when you see
“Visual storytelling is a marketing strategy that uses compelling narratives, puts the customer at the center of the story, is staged with an emotional visual media experience, and is effectively spread across your buyer’s journey to empower the customer’s life and drive business results.”
Read on: Let Pictures Tell Your Story
This is how Ron defines his specialty, which he shares by teaching university courses and advising large corporations in his role as CEO of the Visual Storytelling Institute.
This approach is based on a simple reality: people understand pictures 60,000 times faster than words. And they are attracted to pictures.
Ron found out by accident. “When I was leading digital marketing at SiriusDecisions, I was involved in managing the digital strategy for SDSummit – the high profile annual conference,” he recalls. SiriusDecisions is a B2B research and consulting company that was acquired by Forrester in 2018. “One of my most rewarding experiences was assembling a huge 26 x 13 inch interactive LED social media display (92 LED tiles) that increased the conversation by 374% as participants flocked around as if it were one ‘digital altar’. “
In the years that followed, Ron developed a framework and definitions to explain what seemed obvious but was not said. That became visual storytelling.
But within visual storytelling, as Ron noted, there are branches that he called crisis storytelling, virtual storytelling, fake storytelling, and crypto storytelling. Each branch has its own norms and approaches.
When a brand is in trouble
Ron defines crisis stories as the story a brand creates to effectively manage brand perception during an unexpected problem that threatens the stability of a business or organization. This came to my mind as Ron was assessing how brands were dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic, which of course resulted in states and nations ceasing to trade in an attempt to contain the virus. Companies could not continue as usual.
Brands needed to “find ways to empathize with their audiences during uncertain times,” remarked Ron. That means “telling meaningful stories that translate into action rather than just compassionate words.” he said. This happens against the background of skepticism (see the Morning Consult study on “The State of Consumer Trust”).
Fiddling with the crisis message only deepens the hole (see “Every COVID-19 commercial is exactly the same”). Brands try to get a meaningful message across only to hurt one another by saying the same thing.
“On the other hand, a great example of what Panera Bread has been doing with its ‘Neighbor to Neighbor’ campaign,” said Ron. “They asked their deliverers to use their smartphones to shoot authentic short stories about their day. It’s authentic, real, not for sale, and a great way to diversify storytellers. “(See examples here.)
Companies cannot predict when a crisis will occur, but they can plan how to deal with a crisis.
There is a pre-crisis playbook that is about “identifying people, processes, and tools,” explained Ron. The Crisis Book During the Crisis describes “an adaptive communication strategy that both supports brand narration and focuses on empathetic stories while highlighting actions against words”. And finally, the post-crisis playbook analyzes past storytelling performance and uses inference to optimize the other two playbooks, concluded Ron.
Read on: Data storytelling starts with the story
Seeing (also virtually) is believing
Virtual Reality and Augmented Reality have been around for some time, for example as improvements to online games. But a platform is a platform. If you can play in one, you can be sold there too. Ron cited a study by Statista that estimated the global AR / VR market at $ 20.8 billion by 2023.
Ron noted that brands like Lowe’s offer on-site virtual skills training clinics using HTC Vive virtual reality systems. The weather channel offers a mixed reality experience for impending storms. Other examples of brands using these technologies include Sephora’s Virtual Artist app for experimenting with makeup, the Ikea Place app (for setting up) and Burberry’s multiplayer game B Surf, which expands the summer collection.
Depending on the business goals and audience needs, brands need to explore virtual experiences. “[T]The success of the digital transformation that we have all witnessed over the past year will no doubt grow exponentially after the pandemic. Audiences are already pulling towards all of these virtual destinations, ”he said.
The second part of this story will look at fake and cryptographic stories.
This story first appeared on MarTech Today.
About the author
William Terdoslavich is a freelance writer with a long background in information technology. Before writing for Martech Today, he was also involved in digital marketing for DMN. As an experienced generalist, William worked for Insights.Dice.com, Big Data for Information Week and Software-as-a-Service for SaaSintheEnterprise.com in the IT industry. He also worked as a feature editor for mobile computing and communications and as a feature section editor for CRN, where he had to deal with 20 to 30 different technical topics over the course of an editorial year. Ironically, it’s the human factor that makes William write about technology. No matter how many people try to organize and control information, it never works quite the way they want it to.