The Art and Science of Storytelling

Telling your story through direct mail

First impressions are important.

The visual and verbal impact of ongoing marketing communications should create a series of memorable impressions.  You also want them to generate a lasting impression.  Most importantly, they should generate the desired call to action (CTA).

When creating engaging content for your audience, you must do your research to understand them.  Among the many questions to consider:

  • Are they Customers or Prospects? Long term, one-timers or nevers?
  • Do you know their buying habits? And when they occur?
  • What are their emotional triggers during the buy cycle?
  • Who is your competition and what is their approach?

Once audience understanding is in place, it is time for words and pictures.

Content writing is more than putting words together for someone to read and (fingers crossed) relate to your message. Rather, content writing is the art of telling a story by using the right mix of knowledge, approach, and style to speak to a particular audience in a way they feel comfortable. This will go a long way toward generating that lasting impression.

Without question, imagery also plays an important role in telling your story. Visuals should be more than just look-good, feel-good design – it’s cleverly communicating your brand and value proposition with relevant and personalized imagery. .

Content and visuals are strategically used together, and connected to the audience segments, to attract attention, and more importantly, create a sense of urgency toward the call to action.  DME has developed three types of communications that speak to audience segments:

  • Inspire communications should create a growing feeling of customer value to the cause. They should express how important their support is to current initiatives and the organizational goals.
  • Advocate concentrates on year-round “stewardship” messaging that keep customers aware of special events, occasions, and important milestones. These messages reinforce the value that their support does make a difference.
  • Motivate serves to strengthen the relationship with existing customers through a suite of communications supporting various stewardship activities – leading to the next promotion or “ask.”

An integrated marketing approach is beyond required in today’s world. Mail, email, mobile, social etc., all offer opportunity to modify communications to best fit the delivery platform.  It is important that marketing messaging be adjusted across delivery platforms to what the consumer would expect on a given outlet.  These will increase the likelihood they remember your message, and increase the odds of your CTA being achieved.

During an ongoing campaign, or throughout your career, often times you will find huge success. Then there are other times when you miss the mark.  Either way, generating customer feedback via surveys and other response mechanisms will go a long, long way towards ongoing success, or righting the ship after a misstep.

Also be sure to test, test, and test some more.

A/B testing is critical for you to better understand audience behavior. Ongoing testing and applying learned results going forward is crucial to ongoing success.

Storytelling is not meant to be used only as a selling tool, but as a technique to foster stronger relationships with customers, eventually turning them into loyalists and evangelists. Each story identifies your mission and CTA and also serves as the basis for future content development.