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#CMWorld Day 1: Inspirational Storytelling Tips and Tactics from Conference Speakers

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Best-selling author Andrew Davis opened Content Marketing World 2014 with a presentation on “Moments of Inspiration” in brand storytelling. His speech, which reached more than 2,500 attendees from over 50 countries, focused less on the utility side of content and more on the notion that inspirational storytelling must evoke emotion. Content marketing, when done well, should inspire and send people on a journey of discovery.

Davis offered his audience four tenets to creating moments of inspiration through content:

  1. Build suspense
  2. Foster aspiration
  3. Drive empathy
  4. Harness emotion

While these tenets help form the foundation for creating content that moves people forward, they’re not enough to facilitate change within organizations that resist innovation.

Davis likens traditional content marketing to that of a Ptolemy mindset, suggesting that in the earlier years, brands thought the web revolved around them. There was this idea that if you built a website, the traffic would come.

But now we know that’s not the case. With new platforms emerging every day, Davis urges brands to embody a Galilean approach to content marketing. Google is the center of the online universe, and we’re all revolving around it and interacting as a result. In order to be found, brand publishers must start creating what their audiences love, not interrupting it or expecting consumer behavior to shift in their favor. That means finding the right platforms to reach consumers and making sure you’re distributing consistent information through inspirational storytelling.

For GE’s Katrina Craigwell, new-age platforms have been essential to building an online audience and telling her organization’s stories to the world. Craigwell highlighted four GE case studies regarding the way the enterprise used networks like Instagram and YouTube to develop brand loyalty among an influential and hard-to-reach market. The common thread: Craigwell and her team let the storytellers take control. She enables content creators and influencers to explore, manipulate, and polish stories from their personal experiences that speak to their engagement with amazing GE products. This type of inspirational storytelling approach draws in a B2B audience and keeps them interacting across various channels.

How do you make advanced technology interesting to everyone? You humanize the products by embedding them into consumers’ everyday experiences through the channels on which they regularly access content.

New Balance is another example of an organization bucking the status quo and embracing inspirational storytelling from an emotional level. In Skyword’s own session, CEO Tom Gerace moderated a panel with New Balance’s Head of Global Digital Brand Marketing Patrick Cassidy, who told the story of Lukas Verzbicas—a New Balance–sponsored triathlete who was paralyzed from the neck down after a training accident. New Balance tells Verzbicas’ story through written articles on its site, starting with his tragic accident and leading straight through to his eventual recovery and reentry to the triathlete scene.

New Balance sells shoes, but the company makes deeper connections with buyers through emotional storytelling.

What does inspirational storytelling mean to you? Some of Content Marketing World’s attendees offered their take in the recap video below. Let us know what you think in the comments section.

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