Entrevista por PAMELA VILCHES, publicacada originalmente el 27.7.2016 en Adlatina aquí Antonio Núñez López, head of planning de S,C,P,F… Nueva York, conversó con Adlatina acerca de su presente profesional, las tendencias que espera en la industria, y anticipos sobre su trabajo. … Continue reading
Finding a good personal story during qualitative research is like hitting the jackpot. Stories can be as important as insights because they are emotional, educational and easy to remember and cascade in huge organizations. The conundrum is that asking people for … Continue reading
Five types of personal stories you can use to connect with others, help build your leadership style and create your personal branding (5:40 mins video): 1. The “Who Am I” Story 2. The “Why Am I here” Story 3. The “Visionary” Story … Continue reading
YouTube influencer campaigns provide the authenticity, intimacy and trustworthiness that traditional brand-driven or celebrity-driven storytelling strategies can´t.
Since its origins, the platform’s micro-narratives have copied traditional storytelling genres (like the TV interview), reconfigured others (like the written diary versus the diary videoblog) and created new native categories from scratch.
It’s clear that YouTube native genres will help your brand create storytelling content that already enjoys a solid number of fans and even a certain audience seasonality that can reinforce your marketing plan. The question for marketers, however, is how to get that seemingly real connection with a regular joe that influencers provide, while still enjoying the control over the message and consistency that traditional brand-driven advertising used to offer.
Storytelling is the answer. Asking your influencers to use narrative genres in their videos will provide recognizable and regular patterns of communication for your brand while still allowing enough room for influencers’ creativity, as well as the freedom for their much-needed spontaneity.
Ten popular YouTube native genres that can be adapted for branded content success:
- “Unboxing”: This micro-genre plays with the excitement and expectation of opening boxes -normally coveted tech gadgets or high-end cosmetics, which the audience is already familiar with. There is the joy of ripping open the package, the aesthetic aspect of how the good is boxed or presented (beautiful or utilitarian packaging) and the satisfaction, or deception, with the new acquisition. The Unbox Therapy Channel is a reference in the genre.
- “P.O. Box”: This genre was born when bloggers started receiving commercial samples and free products from companies. In these videos, content creators vlogged their journey to the P.O. Box as well as the opening of the parcel itself. The genre went to new dimensions as fans started to send YouTubers gifts. This added complicity as the influencer would say the fan’s name on camera, read their heartwarming or funny messages, showed excitement for what was received and made jokes about the gift or expressed his or her gratitude.
3. “What’s in my X?”: This genre plays to the curiosity of the audience. The influencer reveals his or her calculated “perfect imperfections” by showing what apps are in his o her iPhone, what’s items he or she carries around in their bag, what’s in their makeup collection or gives a room or house tour, etc. here and also following the influencer´s educational advice on how to organize your life. You need these apps in your iphone, this is what you should be carrying in your bag, copy me to make the most of your tiny bedroom etc.
4. “Draw my life”: The influencer sketches in high-speed the most relevant chapters of his or her life in a whiteboard while his or her voiceover narrates the story. The key ingredient here is the intimacy created by the voiceover and the gratitude the YouTuber expresses towards his audience for making his or her life so amazing.
5. “Haul”: The influencer displays items recently purchased and reviewsthem or gives ¨first impressions¨. The hauls can be thematic (makeup, household items, clothes etc.) or seasonal (Fall, Summer, Boxing Day, Black Friday etc.). The video saves the consumer from having to go see the items themselves and know whether they still want to purchase them or not.
6. Challenges: Being the Ice Bucket Challenge a planetary meme, this genre doesn’t need an introduction. The main attraction is watching someone´s journey through ridicule and suffering like drinking a bottle wasabi, or eating a jar of mayo… or getting soaked. The argh! moment is the hero. Here is what Tide did with this genre:
7. Fridge tours: Learning about people´s personal tastes and diet habits, from compulsive eaters to paleo fanatics, made this genre a YouTube classic.
8. What´s in my mouth?: two or more YouTubers make a collaboration in which one is blindfolded and the other puts things in his/her mouth to guess what they are. The point is to laugh and lightly torture whoever is blindfolded by putting disgusting and not-always-edible things in his/her mouth.
9. My boyfriend or girlfriend does my makeup: this is done by two YouTubers, usually a boy and a girl. The boy will try to do a full face of makeup for the girl to disastrous results. We all, including the girl and the boy, will laugh at the boy for his ignorance on how to apply makeup.
10. Trying candy from X: Influencers try sweets from foreign countries on-camera. Explaining the candy’s origin, comparing them with local brands and arggh! and mmm! flashes are the stellar moments.
These examples are no anecdotes or isolated memes, but fully consolidated storytelling genres that didn´t exist ten or even five years ago. They enjoy millions of views and loyal fans, have their own YouTube icons, traditional celebrities doing cameos and genre hybrids. There are plenty of opportunities for brands to grasp.
Do you know of more YouTube native genres?
PEOPLE are rapidly shifting their online time to their phones. In the US, the increase in mobile share of online sessions has increased by 20 per cent last year. Therefore “Mobile first” is the hottest mantra for marketers nowadays.
Some marketers say that trying to tell your brand story on a smartphone is mission impossible. But ignoring storytelling is ignoring human nature.
The Master-story (or overarching franchise story) and the Micro-stories (episodes that are relevant in vital micro-moments or contexts along the mobile customer’s journey) can help marketers rethink their mobile storytelling strategy.
NO DEVICE FOR OLD STORYTELLING
No room for flashy messaging or design in tiny screens. No patience for distractions from the purpose of the search. No time to elongate a micro-moment. Some marketers think that storytelling on phones is a bad idea that can scare away potential customers. Phone users just want no-frills information, instantly, they say. For the anti-mobile storytelling marketers, storytelling is the enemy of brand utility, being mobile marketing the quintessential Mecca of brand utility.
But ignoring storytelling in mobile marketing is ignoring how humans learn, make sense of information or even think spatially. The more hurried, stressed, in need of fast learning or spatial orientation, the more the human brain needs storytelling to make sense of reality. Marketers cannot afford not using storytelling on smartphones. Even no-frills, UI based apps like Über or Lyft will need, sooner or later, to turn to storytelling as a differentiation tool.
Even when we have yet to master the storytelling art in mobile devices, and that includes even the video game and TV shows industries, marketers can plan their storytelling by thinking in the Master-story and the different Micro-episodes.
A) DESIGNING THE OVERARCHING MASTER STORY FOR CONTINUITY AND BRANDING
You need a franchise story that mirrors your marketing funnel and customer journey. Thanks to phones, costumer’s journeys are more hyper-fragmented than ever. It´s not about long sessions in a desktop anymore. People check their phones, on average, 150 times a day in 1 minute and 10 second sessions. Storytelling can help to create continuity along this micro-fractured customer journey.
Think of a Master story that can be expandable and relevant through the entire marketing funnel using the following tenets:
– Ultra-Simple argument: Your Master Story should be told in a sentence or two, using the Want-But structure. I.e: Hero wants to live a healthier lifestyle but it’s not easy given her way of life, Hero wants to decorate a house but has little money, etc. There will be plenty of opportunities to enrich your story later, through the different critical Micro Episodes (Choosing the most adequate diet for you, how to cook healthy, combining paint colors, finding the nearest Wall Mart, etc.).
– A non-linear structure. Your episodes, mirroring the customer’s journey, cannot be aligned under the Aristotelian ¨setup-conflict-resolution¨. Consumers don´t follow traditional linear journey models like AIDA (Attention, Interest, Desire, Action) anymore. It´s not about creating a sequential experience based on causality (cause-effect), but more like a “choose–your-own-story” book or the novel Rayuela. Each user will enter your story using a different door and different navigation sequence. Do not create a time-lined corridor but an asynchronous, always-on, spider web story.
– A Brand archetype: Archetypes develop brand personality instantly and are a phenomenal ¨look and feel¨ guideline when creating mobile user experiences. A journey to the nearest BP gas station using Google Maps, Spotify or Wallet should not the be the same experience under the Warrior Archetype than under the Sage archetype.
– Different conflicts: When experiencing the mobile journey, your user will encounter different challenges or conflicts in crucial micro-moments: They will need to Know, to Go, to Do or to… Smoke (more on this later). Think about the Master conflict first (lifestyle, no money, etc.) and you will be able to connect and develop secondary micro-conflicts later (shopping, cooking, dieting, exercising, counting calories, etc.).
– A word cloud and key metaphors: key words that will help to write the story with consistency, metaphors will help users learn intuitively how to navigate new realities or acquire new abilities.
– Sonic and Visual branding: these will help to identify the story beyond a color code.
– A Life Truth: What message, connected to higher order values, do you want to convey trough the different mobile touch points? This will ensure that the mobile experience is connected to your brand and company values.
B) DESIGNING THE MICRO-EPISODES FOR BRAND UTILITY
Once you have a robust story franchise for branding and continuity purposes, it´s time to think in the different micro-episodes. Episodes must embody the crucial micro-moments that happen anytime and anywhere your brand needs to show up. They should be able to engage users with relevance during a real-time search.
-Think Instant: Episodes must be ultra-short micro-stories. Remember 1 minute and 10 seconds is all you’ve got.
–Think in Genre: Genres can help users to instantly grasp what kind of emotions, conflicts and archetypes to expect in a micro-story, as they are deeply rooted in pop culture. They help to fight app or site switch. Should your micro-moment be shaped as a thriller, a self-discovery story or as a documentary? Maybe more as Millennials genres like unboxing stories or fridge tours?
–Think in Contribution: How each specific micro-episode along the customer’s journey will contribute to the Master story and to your branding? Will it help to make your Master story more sensual, more aspirational, more visual or spreadable? How will it help to balance the overall user experience?
–Participation level: How social or private the episode must be? How passive or active you want the consumer to be? Maybe your users want to share that they just bought a vintage piece but not where they bought it.
C) THE 4 MOST FREQUENTLY USED MOBILE MICRO-STORIES
-The Discovery Story: This type of episode needs to embody micro-moments where users are exploring, looking for inspiration or education in their phones. Imagine a context in which they have a vague idea of what they want or need, but they don´t know the available alternatives or possible solutions. They are looking for ideas, inspiration, tips and advice, not your brand. Don´t push your brand yet, they are not ready to buy; at this point it would only scare them away. The Discovery stories are specially indicated to recruit new customers. It´s about anticipating needs. Think in a horizontal “drillable” story, where users are offered an array of solutions and they get to choose which one to dig into deeper.
–The Action Story: In this kind of episode the users already know what they are looking for but don´t know the practicalities. They need to implement their decision, make them real. These are the How-to stories and the Instructional stories, were the action is described in step-by-step detail. Think about do´s and don’ts and watch out for.
–The Road Story: The users already made their decision and now they want to know how to get to a place, find the nearest store or what milestones and landmarks to expect along the road. Think about how they will feel each step of the way, it´s not about creating a rational check-list. They want to make the most of every milestone along the journey.
–The Cigarette Story: People use phones like smokers use cigarettes. If they have a moment left, their phones are there to fill that time gap. They could be at the bus stop or metro, in-between meetings, or in a Starbuck’s line. During these micro-moments people want to be entertained, interact socially or game. The Cigarette stories are perfect to retain customers when they are stuck in a step of your marketing funnel, meditating, consulting with others or procrastinating. You don´t want to loose potential customers that already entered your marketing funnel because they get bored or forget you.
Designing stories for smart phones might not be an easy task. However; it will definitely be a mission worth undertaking as Storytelling can become Brand Utility’s best ally.
Have a message to convey? Forget slide presentations and spreadsheets, advises consultant Antonio Núñez. Rather, he says, focus on telling a good story.
(Q&A originally published by GMAC´s GM News.)
The opening keynote speaker for GMAC’s European Conference, Núñez has a wealth of experience in helping corporations, nonprofit organizations, and individuals integrate storytelling into their marketing and branding. After earning his MBA at ESADE, he worked for several multinational communication companies, including Saatchi & Saatchi and SCPF, one of Spain’s leading advertising agencies. He is a founding partner of Story and Strategy, which applies communication strategies based on storytelling. Núñez shared some of his insights with GM News.
Q. You advocate the power of using stories in marketing and branding. Can you briefly describe that concept?
A. I have been interested in stories since I was a child. When I started to work with brands and consumer experiences, I realized that individual brand experiences are both experienced as stories and told as stories to other people. Thus, I discovered many parallels between what a fiction story could be and what a brand story could be.
What I do basically is to transform experiences into a story with conflict, archetypes, and beginnings and ends, to try to help consumers experience the brand as a story.
Q. Can you give one or two examples of successful storytelling in business?
A. One of the most successful examples is Coca-Cola. They collect every good story that consumers may have about their brand. In fact, they have a story-telling theater in Las Vegas where professional storytellers share stories that show how Coca-Cola is not only a brand but is also part of our lives and identity. The theater features several well-known true stories that happened around a bottle of Coke.
Apple, along with CEO Steve Jobs, represents another good example of how you can build both business leadership and brand leadership through the stories that your CEO and your employees can tell about your brand, company, and services. There are a lot of parallels here with educational institutions, where faculty members and others on campus also tell stories.
Q. In today’s business world, which obviously relies heavily on numbers and facts, how can storytelling compete as a means to convey a message?
A. We are learning that we are emotional animals—we are driven by emotions first and then by rationality. That is where stories are more powerful than PowerPoints and data. Stories contain emotions, conflicts, and many different senses. Stories are a faster way to capture an audience’s attention. Stories also have something that numbers do not have, which is that the audience gives sense to the stories that it hears. That has two advantages. First, a story involves you and demands that you decide what the story is trying to tell. Second, if you have a story, you want to share it. Stories are therefore a better way to help people remember what they need to remember about your brand, project, or presentation.
Also important is that stories come in their own words. In business today we are moving from a mass media environment to a one-to-one, online environment. That means that you have to respect how people tell their own stories. At the same time, you need to strive for brand reputation consistency, something that is very difficult. That is why stories are important.
Q. Can you give an example or two of how a business school might apply storytelling in its own marketing?
A. One thing to note concerns rankings. Sometimes is it very difficult to compete through rankings. Rankings can be very subjective and are sometimes not multidimensional but based on only two or three factors. Sometimes you want to play in a different arena. To help do that, your university or MBA program has to have a story—that is, something that has a conflict in it. Why should a university or brand embrace a conflict? Because it will become important for your target audience if that audience is interested in that conflict. By conflict, for example, we might mean “finding a job,” obviously a No. 1 concern of students but also a means to transform your family, or a means to learn and transform yourself into a better human being. Conflict is something that has to be connected to your brand.
Universities should work to spread their stories across their networks of alumni. By sharing stories within this network, you will be building your reputation and your relationship network.
Q. When you speak at the GMAC European Conference, what key messages do you hope your audience will take away from your talk?
A. The first message is that you cannot rely on traditional mass media to build your image and your reputation. Such channels are becoming less efficient and effective. You need to move to different social networks, both offline and online. In these networks, stories are a key tool. They can be supported in many media, such as video, podcasts, and websites, but the main tool is the story, and storytelling. I also plan to talk about what a true story is, which is not just about rational argument and a certain order and structure. The stories that you tell to describe your programs should have smell, texture, and many different conflicts so that they appeal to your prospective students.
Another topic will be how you can create a consistent story through the different channels available to educational institutions. There are many different stories within a university or an MBA program, and you have to create consistency while allowing people the freedom to tell their own stories. That balance is very important.
The GMAC European Conference took place 24-25 October 2010 at Ashridge Business School in the United Kingdom.
A version of this interview was originally published in GMAC-GM News
A NEW KIND OF masculinity is emerging in America and new male archetypes are already consolidating themselves in some US subcultures. Those brave enough to celebrate this upcoming idea of ¨maleness¨, will not only collect the symbolic profits of harnessing a big cultural trend, … Continue reading
“BECOME THE BEST MARACA percussionist in the world and sit back to watch your career thrive.”
This is what my father would say to anyone seeking study or career advice.
My father was a child of the hyperspecialization economy that started with the postindustrial revolution. In the society he grew up in, his advice proved right: hyperspecialized careers were successful because a company’s competitive advantage was mostly based on efficacy (performance) and efficiency (cost). Hyperspecialized professionals were instrumental in delivering both of these elements.
His advice also worked for me. I chose to study marketing. The most profitable career strategy any marketer could adopt at the time was to find a niche discipline and learn to become the very best at it. CRM, digital, social, mobile marketing, you name it; there were plenty of opportunities to catch the right wave.
Back then marketers frequently compared the ideal marketing team to a symphony orchestra. The partiture functions as the operating manual and makes it possible for musicians, from different backgrounds and disciplines, to understand each other and play together in sync. In charge of the partiture compliance is the Orchestra’s Director, a seasoned musician with varied knowledge of how different instruments are played. This wide-ranging expertise gives him the knowledge to guide the specialized musicians during their performances. The Director is the one-in-a-million generalist talent in the orchestra.
The same happened in marketing. There were partitures (Marketing plans and brand bibles), orchestra directors (seasoned marketing directors) and musicians (marketers specialized in specific disciplines).
Things have changed, however, and in this new economy, my father’s advice on career hyperspecialization, could be poisonous. The most prized competitive advantage that companies currently seek is not efficiency or efficacy, but the ability to constantly break the mold.
Companies must embrace hybridization as a way to combine existing resources and ideas in new ways. In order to thrive, they need to be agile, flexible and imaginative enough as to always stay ahead of the ever-evolving desires of a technologically empowered consumer.
If innovation is about hybridity then looking beyond your specialization is the fastest way of finding original inspiration, making surprising connections and getting disruptive ideas. You must be able to see the always-evolving bigger picture, leave your specialized jargon aside and integrate other colleague’s abilities, tools and working methods. This is the only way to create the perfect ad-hoc team that makes innovation possible.
The metaphor that describes the perfect marketing team of today is nothing like the old music orchestra. Instead, it is more like a free-entrance jam session.
The partiture is the result of a collective effort, like a jam session it’s improvised and democratic. Everyone needs to know how to play his or her instrument but likewise, there needs to exist a general interest and knowledge of how other’s instruments work as well, and how they add to the mix. During jam sessions, musicians should make room for the usual band of colleagues, but should also welcome outside special guests and partners (strategic allies and vendors, celebrities and influencers), as well as accept self-invited anonymous musicians (brand advocates and consumer generated content).
In order to thrive in our marketing careers we’ll need to get our heads out of our hyperspecialized cubicles and look outside the office windows in search for the next opportunity to break the mold.
I will advice my future children to be curious, to be ravenous and to play other instruments besides the maracas. It is time for the resurgence of the Renaissance Man and Woman.
Brand Planners. User Experience Planners. Shopper Planners. Digital Planners. Social media planners. Content Planners. Channel Planners. You-name-it planners. Many big agencies´ strategic departments are said to resemble a scary Tower of Babel: flooded with data, confronted by hyper specialized jargons and unable to create unifying brand metrics. They are criticized for working at turtle pace and for being fragmented by narrow discipline-oriented points of view.
Many creative teams complain about having to pay the toll in this situation. They are forced to spend more time trying to find an overarching theme for campaigns, which means less time to craft their storytelling productions. Many marketers too. They are left to build their brands relying almost solely on brand personality and tone of voice consistency. Their brands can’t generate true meaningful conversations, relying on a collection of key visuals or on superficial anecdotes to influence consumers’ perceptions or behaviors. Those brands end-up lacking purpose and a distinctive point of view.
This Tower of Babel Syndrome is not a new thing. Different planning disciplines have always been at war. However, this “war” should not be viewed as a bad thing, it has been the necessary evil that has helped agencies confront the challenges of each communication era.
Creatives vs Researchers
The in-house researcher era: Agencies hired research practitioners tasked with infusing creativity with the rigor of public opinion research. And so, the tensions between art and science, between images and numbers and between creatives and pollsters were born. Kellogg’s cereal brand advertising, for example, was a result of the tensions of this era.
Researches vs Creative Planners
But then some pollsters became not only efficacy controllers but also a source of inspiration. The second chapter of the strategic planning evolution was the conflict between research practitioners and creative planners. The first having strong statistical and analytical skills, the latter armed with storytelling capabilities and intuition to find the intersection between insights and creative ideas. The planning role was not only about proving the ads to be efficient anymore; it was also about inspiring the creative teams. An agency’s goal became converting the right data into actionable insights. Nike brand advertising could be an example of the conflicts of this era.
Brand Planners vs Digital planners
The digital revolution created a third type of holly grail for the planning community: the “digital first” strategy. Traditional “brand planners” and the then called “digital planners” were meant to work together in harmony. The ideal was to marry the traditional “Push” culture of brand planners with the emerging “Pull” culture of digital planners. The resulting team needed to integrate “old” and “new” abilities: On one side, synthesis, single-minded messaging and perception analysis capabilities and on the other side, consumer behavior analysis, content creation and friction-less information architecture creation capabilities. The dream was to create grounded real-time brand storytelling through brand experiences. Apple communications could be an example of this chapter´s conflict.
Storytelling Planners vs Experience Planners
Consumer’s mantra nowadays seems to be “stop telling me stories and give me an amazing free app”. For brands to stay relevant they are required to be meaningful and entertaining and also to offer useful products and services that provide an added value. Planning teams need to merge their abilities to create pervasive storytelling with the ability to design new products and come up with original business ideas. They also have to work closer to advertiser’s business models, not only to their marketing plans. An example of brand communication from this era could be Uber or Airbnb.
Planning teams vs the future
As for the future, I suspect that, not too far from today, agencies will need to curb the gap between storytelling and story-doing. In an era of generalized skepticism, brands will need to make their brand stories tangible. Planners will be asked to deliver against the old Roman Emperor’s adagio “panem et circenses” (bread and circus): Brand utility and entertaining, meaningful storytelling.
In order to roll with the times and the new conflicts that await us, strategic planning departments will need to learn how to:
-1. Focus on what we strategists share in common, instead of trying to exacerbate the full nuances of our different strategy disciplines.
-2. Find integrative metaphors and vocabulary to function as one team.
-3. Work more iteratively and not sequentially.
-4. Assume with humbleness that the one million metrics that used to calm clients (and agency leaders) cannot replace our intuition or the scary trial and error system.
-5. Embrace that strategy today is much less glamorous, it is about making infinite small tweaks and not about the romantic eureka moment of the next Big Idea.
One thing I know for certain about the planning war is that Planners of all disciplines will need to embrace conflict and friction as part of our daily reality in order to finish the construction of the Tower, unlike what happened in Babel.
A version of this article originally appeared on WARC.com under the title “5 Tips on the future of Strategic Planning”.