If we take a look at the most rampant marketing strategies and success in the age of social media, it is unlike anything the industry has experienced prior. Youtube product reviews, blogging… Even grassroots style politicians. What do they all have in common? They’re successful because they’re trustworthy, because they come from real voices, not the communication department of some intangible entity.
This is a new discipline in that the scope of online marketing communications has changed drastically in the last decade or so. There is an abundance of competition from the exploding amount of websites emerging, all with specific goals they aim to accomplish. The lessened barriers to being an active contributor to the internet has flooded it with shapers of content. This increases the number of corporate as well as personal narratives and has correspondingly increased the amount of skepticism towards testimonials and advertising.
Thus, blogging has surfaced as a being highly successful, as their authenticity is generally more accepted, coming from a real person that audiences can relate to. The idea of narratives being an effective aspect of marketing and advertising has been thoroughly explored absent from the internet also. Value is manufactured from how a good or service is portrayed, and the job of strategic communicators is to mold that perception through storytelling.
Let’s take an idea from academia – Peter Elbow says:
“If you can get a reader to take your point of view for just that one conditional moment – to inflate your words with his breath – then future events will occasionally remind him of the experience.”
He calls this “tricky persuasion”, which entails understanding that people have a stake in what you’re saying (their money, vote, etc.), avoiding antagonizing hard sells and getting people to understand your perspective rather than changing theirs.
In practice, how is this done you may ask? By focus on voice. Being personable by writing autobiographically, being informative/factual rather than blatantly persuasive and showing irrefutable evidence.
We embody these ideas in all the projects we produce. In design, this means never using large flashy banners or boring sales pitch material. We produce projects that are unique and build the company’s professional persona while formulating the content to be relatable, easy to digest and informative.