It’s Monday morning. Imagine you’re in the office, discussing with your colleagues how you could improve the company’s marketing. How does one reach people nowadays? How does one catch the attention of potential new clients? Why is nobody reading your posts?

storytelling content marketing with a twist
Your message needs a twist.

Last week you launched a Facebook campaign, but it didn’t really take off. Your competitors also seem to be spending more on AdWords to climb the Google ranking ladder, leaving you further down the list of search results. How to compete?

The answer is: The communication with your potential clients needs to be more frequent and more spot on. You need to increase your touchpoints – the number of situations where you reach and interfere with potential clients. And you need to make sure that every time you reach them, you stand out. That you’re different from the rest.

So what can you communicate? What could you possibly be talking about in all these posts, articles and e-mails? You have the message, the products and the services, but you can’t go on nagging about that several times a week. That’s considered too commercial, or even spam, which your audience will reject.

What’s happening in your business?

What you need is to figure out what to tell your customers when you’re not allowed to talk about your business itself, or even your offer. You need to find stories that share your expertise as a brand – enough stories to produce new posts, emails or newsletters frequently.

Is there really that much happening in my business? you might ask.

Yes, there is!

People tend not to see it because they’re right in the middle of it. Or they see things that they think are stories, but that their customers won’t find interesting or accessible – stories that, in the end, don’t manage to cut through the noise.

Time for a private detective?

Imagine instead that your company hired a private detective, or a journalist, to investigate your company in search of storytelling material. Someone who could look at your business from an outside perspective and say:

– Hey, what you’re doing right here is fascinating and unique.

Or:

– That thing isn’t worth communicating at all. It’s irrelevant.

Or:

– That’s way too complicated to understand for someone who’s not one of you.

Imagine that this private detective got back to you with a list for 2-3 fascinating short stories that could be told and posted every week. Stories that are unique and interesting for someone who has never heard of your business or doesn’t have any previous knowledge about your field. Stories told in a way that they make your business appear as the go-to brand/website/page for more stories like these.

A credible source of information, inspiration and – eventually – products and services.

This private detective would be an expert in finding good ideas and patterns in things, in creating stories and dramaturgy, but also understanding your message and business goals, to find this for you.

Continuously creating and posting stories not only strengthens your brand and draws people’s attention when executed professionally. It also repeatedly encourages digital word-of-mouth – dedicated people sharing your stories – and most of all it’s creating constant touchpoints and opportunities for potential new clients.

Are you constantly creating new stories and touchpoints?

The reason you clicked this headline is because

  1. You were intrigued and curious to find the answer
  2. You normally like our posts and thought this one might be good as well
  3. You were annoyed but couldn’t help clicking it, because – why not?

No matter why, it shows that this post appeared in your news feed. The reason it did is because someone shared it. This person might be one of us, one of our followers, or a freind of a friend of a follower …

Or, you found it through googling the topic, and Google thought it was one of the best suggested answers to your question, since other visitors and readers thought so.

Imagine this would be the case for all of your stories, every week, every month. There is so much value in these touchpoints, because over time the content created through published stories also ranks your page better every day.

It all starts with an intriguing headline…


Read more:

Here’s the next big thing in marketing

”Traditional PR doesn’t work in social media”

Why content marketing may be your best decision in 2017

Do you want us to find your stories for you? We offer content marketing as your blog, newsletter or social media editors – read more about these services here.

Effective sustainability communication can deliver great business value. Get it wrong and the results might be minimal – and at worst the reputational damage might be costly. Here are the key strategies for success.

Sustainability communication in social media - ode agency

There was a time when nobody wanted to bring up the subject sustainability. When listed holding groups with legal requirements on sustainability reports were so reluctant that they let the enforced work of a few minor companies represent the whole group just to get away.

The advantages of sustainable development seemed few and risks were high. It was either ’too expensive’ or ’threatened to damage the brand’. Companies felt like they had to choose between being sustainable or ’sexy’, which left them afraid to communicate sustainability on a brand level.

That is no longer the case.

Are you sustainable or sexy?

Today sustainability is no longer only of interest to niche stakeholders, but has taken a hold in corporations around the world. Nine out of ten consumers expect companies to do more than profit – to also operate responsibly in environmental and social areas.

A sustainable business and a successful business are one and the same. It’s simply crucial for any brand to instill trust in its customers, and get significant value beyond financial return. Companies should integrate sustainability into all business areas and let it guide the decision-making as part of the business planning process.

And they do.

A majority of executives consider sustainability important, and the majority of companies are integrating sustainability principles into their businesses. They are also increasingly communicating their initiatives. Today it is sexy to be sustainable. Brands make efforts for better products, better conditions and better communities – and they want to show it to the world.

How to get the attention you deserve

But doing something doesn’t mean it’s done well. Companies increasingly highlight their sustainability activity, but do the messages and results reach the audience and get the attention they deserve? Are the initiatives given a real chance to create the biggest possible value for the community and company?

Instead of (only) publishing reports and white papers, or sending out press releases, on impacts and values, companies should use digital platforms and editorial approaches in social media. Digital content creates great opportunities to reach a wide and engaged audience in a compelling manner.

When used in the right way, social media can be an amplifier for the transparent, competitive advantage that business sustainability delivers.

Social media has been a change driver in how sustainability is communicated. But how to do it? How to harness the power of social media to create business sustainability value? Below we discuss what is and isn’t working for brand-level social media communication and explore key components for success.

Be a publisher

First of all, companies should view all social platforms as what they really are – publishing channels. Consider:

  • What your audience cares about
  • What you’ve got to say that’s in their interest
  • Where they want to get their information
  • What you do well and how to be useful with it
  • How to be transparent

Choose your digital channels wisely

Social media platforms have made companies ’publishers’. Great news for organizations that wish to share their sustainability efforts with consumers and other stakeholders. But your choice of channels must align with your communication strategy.

To develop a strong editorial voice in social media, and to be able to spark a sustainability dialogue among your employees, media, investors, NGOs, and consumers, you need to really handle the channel. Sustainability messages also seek to reach specific audiences. Needless to say then that those messages should be communicated through the audiences’ preferred channels.

Start a two-way conversation

’No man is an island’, wrote John Donne. You’re not the only one here.

Don’t just show off initiatives and results on a brick wall. Online there’s a huge potential audience to influence change. Engage people, make them a part of your journey. People obviously care about the topic, so create a two-way conversation.

Be your audience’s guide and collocutor.

By empowering people with the feeling that their voice matters and makes a difference, you get new input, increase reach and make people engage with your brand.

Focus on the big picture

We live in an over-communicated society where we’ve got seconds before the next wave of messages hits the audience. Be concise and send out clear, simple messages. Don’t be technical or get too much into detail. Instead of facts and figures – show a map of your journey.

To make your communication work and resonate outside the offices, it has to resonate with an audience that’s not used to hearing the technicalities. Show real results, in a simple way.

Down to earth – get off your high horses

Sustainability processes are complex, and it’s your task to demystify this subject and to speak a language that people understand.

Be personal and discuss issues that are closer to home – friends, family, nature, food, health and fitness – issues that affect people’s everyday lives. Social media is ideal for that purpose.

Sustainability work purifies and simplifies the world, which is something we all desire. Show that your initiatives, your improved business and products contribute to that.

Use imaginary motors

How much does the audience really care? Companies should make their sustainability journey something people care about and engage in. We need to be motivated. Use imaginary motors to get people going, to encourage action and participation.

  • Engage in your community. People love that.
  • Be adventurous and exciting. Focus on the adventure. Talk about traveling, new horizons. What’s cool.
  • Happiness is always a driving force.
  • Eternity. Sustainability work purifies and simplifies the world, which is something we all desire. Show that your initiatives, your improved business and products contribute to that.

Be genuine 

Don’t greenwash. It can and will seriously damage your brand. Don’t do and communicate sustainability work because there is a USP in it for you. Don’t do it because it sounds good, because everybody else is doing it or because it improves your reputation.

Do it because it’s in the interest of your business to have a positive impact and influence on your community. Because you genuinely care about that community, and that wanting to improve your world is integrated into your business strategy. Because it’s easier to operate in prosperous surroundings.

You’re not sexy because you do sustainability work. You’re sexy because you’re sustainable.

Be the story

It’s all about the story. By telling the story of corporate sustainability goals, actions, and performance in a compelling way, companies have the opportunity to engage with stakeholders and audience in more meaningful ways.

But how to be a good storyteller, you ask?

If you are doing a good work, you have a good story to tell.

 


Read more:

Here’s the next big thing in marketing

”Traditional PR doesn’t work in social media”

Why content marketing may be your best decision in 2017

Do you want us to help you in your strategic planning? We offer this as part of our communication strategy services – read more about them here.

Meet Björn Ekdahl, CEO, who talks about what separates me-too brands from unique, winning brands. 

Björn Ekdahl, Ode Agency

Hi Björn! What do you do at Ode?

– I’m the CEO. That’s short for a combination of chief everything officer and a learn-it-all. I try to be involved in as many parts of the business and with as many people as possible, with the goal to learn and understand as much as possible. Together with my team I’m building the go-to agency for high-quality content marketing in Europe.

– I also make coffee.

What’s your background?

– I’m originally a publisher. I worked for a production, PR and sales company within the publishing industry before founding a publishing house myself. My company got many requests for communication, agency services and international representation, so I started another business focusing on marketing and communication (believe it or not, but the book market doesn’t know anything about storytelling). Words have always been the most important to me, so that was a natural next step.

– The agency had an outspoken sustainability approach, helping big brands in the fashion and lifestyle industries with their sustainability work and to communicate that process. High-end brands used to be either conscious or sexy. What the companies appreciated now was the possibility to combine this. Sustainability is definitely not only something you do to build your image – or to be conscious and environmentally friendly – it’s an integrated part of the business model in long-lasting businesses.

– Given this background, with me living in Paris and with experience of executive roles I was asked to be CSO of sustainable luxury agency 1.618 Paris. Last autumn I joined Ode Agency.

What do you think is the main challenge for marketers today? 

– I see many. One is the fact that marketers still seem to be talking about ’digital marketing’, like it was something new and separated from ’marketing’ per se, like if you could go by with analog marketing. Today that’s a tautology. 

– Another one is to be able to measure and prove the ROI of your marketing activities – to get real value for your investments. PR and advertising might give your brand a boost, your 15 minutes of fame, which is great when running a campaign or launching a product. But to build your brand every day, even while you’re asleep, it takes more, unless you have an unlimited budget. 

And the most common marketing or communication mistake that companies make?

– This goes all the way back to the (lack of) business strategy. Brands communicate and market themselves without knowing who they are, without knowing their raison d’être. They often haven’t even asked themselves ’If we stopped existing today, what would our clients miss tomorrow?’ They are me-too brands, or also-rans, without a unique purpose and position. Before marketing and communicating you have to have a bulletproof reason why people should turn to you instead of your competitors.

What do you do at work, when you think that no one sees you?

– I walk around in circles with a pen in my hand, it preferably resting on my lips. I’ve convinced myself that I think better when I do that, but maybe it’s just a wish to look like the tortured artist. 

Where do you find inspiration?

– In classical music. But most of all in the moment. By chance or a sudden impulse, by something someone says or does. Something I see or happen to hear (read: eavesdrop). Every block of stone has a statue inside it, and it’s the task of the sculptor to discover it, if I may quote Michelangelo.