Narrative Marketing

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Why Narrative Marketing?

TechTransform, December 7, 2003: What's Narrative Marketing about, and why do we care? More importantly, how do we do it?
These two great quotes from CEOnetworking's Top Ten 2004 Business Trends set the stage.
"Forget traditional positioning and brand-centric approaches to marketing. We're now in the 'Age of the Narrative' where the biggest challenge facing companies is how to tell communicate their story in the most compelling, consistent and credible way possible -- both internally and externally."
William Ryan, Founding Partner, Portola Strategies
"Forget boundaries, cohorts are the future. Organizational, cultural, regional, and national boundaries will disappear, replaced by on-line cohorts based upon attitudes and interests being the glue that binds people into future marketplaces. Ads will increasingly be targeted to these future virtual groups making online targeted marketing as the most effective mechanism. The explosive growth of weblogs are the tip of what is to come."
Stephen Ibaraki, Teacher/Educator, Writer, Analyst, Chairman and Chief Architect, CIPS,,
That's all very well. But any VP of Marketing will tell you that there is a huge problem here.
Multiple Outlets
I ran into this at Panda, where we needed to drive four websites, three newsletters, a multiplicity of campaigns with "sales funnel" landing pages, automated email followups, distributed presence on other websites, reseller resource areas, partner process, internal communications, plus all the standard product and event collateral. Whew.
The inability to do all this translates to an inability to have a dialog with the audience, aka "narration". It's really the underlying systems that are missing.
So, it's mission critical for VPMs to have all this together. All this web based real time stuff is done with Rube Goldbergian technology in most companies. It's why the enterprise is roaring back - they've invested (that was in my article too).
A Marketing Engine
I have been working with Itensil on a technology solution that repurposes multiple blogging style content streams into all these vehicles. I'll be happy to hook you up.
At the end of the day you can name individuals to manage the content for specific blogs, such as News, Testimonials, Events, Product Info etc. (by simple email posting) and the marcom people just control what is spawned to where.
A Prescription
So, what does a company need to do to achieve Narrative Marketing?
First, create reach and visibility in their target audience. This is done by creating a dialog with that audience that engages them in something they really care about - a company needs to own the debate on a major issue in their market.
That dialog created, it must be developed into reaches for information and, ultimately, products and services. This is a progressive process that is the marketing engine.
It's a lot to build and a lot to feed, but the investment is mission-critical. We can help.

Updated December 8, 2003
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