Patricia Hume | Our Blog
Posted by Patricia Hume on Wed, Mar 26, 2014 @ 12:12 PM Tweet
Just because we’re living in the Digital Age, don’t think ancient means of human communication are passé.
Camelot – a magical mystical place. Arthurian scholar Norris J. Lacy commented that “Camelot, located no where in particular, can be anywhere.” The first reference to Camelot was in 1170 and, still today, continues to be an enchanting story that delights and engages audiences of all ages. It is quite likely that the origins of this popular legend were most certainly born around Celtic campfires centuries before 1170. Out of Camelot comes our love for King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table, as well as our belief that Merlin and Arthur really understood the significance of freeing Excaliber – proof of Arthur’s lineage and right to the throne. It is here that Galahad conquers the Siege Perilous, and where knights see a vision of the Holy Grail and swear to find it. And we cannot forget the romantic love between Queen Guinevere and Sir Lancelot. A timeless story has a little bit of something for everyone.
Why is this story something so many of us remember, and believe will likely still be retold a century from now? Perhaps because it is a story we fantasize as a metaphor for our own daily struggles – one which we can engage and believe? And through the magic of language, the story triggers our imagination, helping us relate to the characters, their values, and their hopes that are mostly closely aligned to our own.
Camelot is a good example of the power of a story; an illustration of what we can learn and relate through allegory and metaphor. What we can take from Camelot we can apply to our ability to write stories that are enduring and engaging to our audience. When I am telling stories, whether for pleasure or business, these are some of the things I consider:
1. Trigger the reader’s imagination: Einstein said imagination is more important than knowledge. Certainly, the image of a young Britton exacting a sword from a rock captures the imagination. People buy with their imagination, features and benefits to justify their thoughts.
2. Ignite an emotional response: People remember things they feel. Lancelot’s love for Guinevere, at conflict with his love for Arthur, is rife with emotion. Emotional memories are strong and tend to last because we relate to them differently than something that had no impact on our feelings.
3. Be human: As human’s we relate to others. Arthur, Lancelot, Guinevere – all tragic and believable human figures. Our audience is affirmed as human beings through the stories we tell. It is a way of building a community – humanity is affirmed in storytelling. The only common denominator of our audience is that they are all human.
4. Use imagery: The use of imagery triggers the reader’s senses. Can you not vividly recall the surreal image of The Lady of the Lake’s haunting arm rising through the misty waters with Excalibur? Through this technique you increase the engagement of the audience. They can experience the story through enacting the sense – touch, smell, sound, sight and taste, and therefore the ability to recall will be enhanced.
5. Portray values: Jonah Sachs, author of “Winning the Story Wars,” says “…your role as an organization is to “connect your audience to their deeper values.” Your story isn’t about you it’s about motivating and empowering your audience.” Consider the values forged by brave ancient knights, hands clasped around a table without head or foot. So by creating that motivation, you are also creating emotion, imagination, and a human image associated to whatever story you are writing.
And as a general rule of thumb, keep your stories simple. There is no need to over complicate what you write. Avoid using “big” words and complicated details. Simple is better. The simpler a story, the more likely it will stick. Leo Widrich in his blog titled, “What listening to a story does to our Brains” tells us that “using simple language as well as low complexity is the best way truly relate to the happenings of a story.
The success of your story will be measured in your audiences’ engagement. Direct involvement from your audience means valuable actions such as sharing with their friends or remembering the brand’s message just a little more clearly.
If you are using social media as a channel for your story, you need to watch the actions taken across those channels. Or, if you are using a story as part of a campaign – your engagement and success is measured in the leads that are generated. When the audience is engaged in your story and converses about your brand, the brand then becomes content. Content that people are sharing. That is the desired effect.
And back to Camelot – our imaginations are engulfed in imagery of Britain in the times of King Arthur whose values and human characteristics create impact and most certainly trigger an emotional and memorable response. When writing your story – remember the one that has had the most impact in your life.
0 Comments Click here to read/write commentsTags: audience Posted by Patricia Hume on Tue, Jan 28, 2014 @ 02:07 PM Tweet
Most of us have been to the public library. Certainly, in our academic lives, we went to the library to gather relevant information, allowing us to do our assignments. I remember having to do a paper about Christopher Columbus back in the days when I did not have the luxury of sitting home and surfing the web to find the facts and figures needed to complete my assignment.
I went to the library. Once there, I used the Dewey Decimal System – the card catalogue – to find the books that I needed to “check out” for my paper. I went to the section where the pertinent books were housed, and then I began the tedious process of my own curation. Without the magic of Internet discovery or search, I needed to physically leaf through volumes to find that which was relevant to the task at hand.
I like the metaphor of the library as it relates to content curation. Let’s take a step back and look at the history of how libraries came to be and, equally important, the role of the librarian. Librarians have actually been around since 8th century BC, when the “keeper of the books” had to oversee the thousands of tablets that contained relevant and important data. These early-day librarians were responsible to oversee the thousands of stored tablets containing content. These tablets were tagged, indexed, and arranged in logical order. The role of librarians has certainly evolved, but as we look back, isn’t it true that librarians were the first curators of content?
Today, more than ever, we need to find relevant content. 90% of all the worlds content that has been created in the past two years – thanks to the Internet and the ability it has given us all to be not only content consumers, but content creators. But now that we have this digital oasis filled with reams of information, it is a very difficult task to search for what we really need, accessible when we need it.
Marketers are creating content management strategies. They are focused on content marketing to become the authority in their industry, improve their brand equity, increase their following, drive more leads, and keep up with their competitors. Their strategies blend both created and curated content in order for them to keep up with the need to reach out to their audiences multiple times per day across multiple channels with compelling and relevant stories. When considering curation, marketers need to find the most efficient, economic approach, while ensuring they are receiving content that is pertinent and relevant. Many times the sources for this curated content are really not known and marketers are forced to, through trial and error, search for what they need. This is not efficient, nor does it render the intended results.
We understood this issue and have responded by building a digital library of original, quality content– a place where marketers can discover and curate the sources of information that they need to complete their assignments. As digital “librarians,” we take the time and focused attention to find the right sources, review them for quality, originality, and appropriateness, then we index, tag, and arrange them in logical order (thank you Mr. Dewey!). Only now, the content is not on shelves, but in that proverbial “cloud.” Sound familiar?
The library in the sky – the curator of the 21st century – brought to you through the inspiration of the scribes of ancient times.
0 Comments Click here to read/write commentsTags: content curation Posted by Patricia Hume on Tue, Nov 19, 2013 @ 03:57 PM Tweet
I know the rest of you won’t believe this, but the answer to the question is staring us all in the face. It is simply one word – but what an important one: marketing. No adjective required. What is all the hype about the need for categorization? It is confusing at best. So, as we continue to read about content marketing I am tempted to ask, “Isn’t this just marketing after all?” Really, what is marketing without content? Granted, the fact that the Internet has opened up a new world of data, information, and content adds some level of complexity to what marketers should do to create compelling stories for their audiences. Oh, but what a promise…a promise that there is more than enough – a true abundance – of really wonderful “stuff” out there, allowing a marketer to now become a marketing mixologist, creating great “cocktails” for their readers to consume.
I have been attending different events and listening to the arguments about what kind of content should be leveraged. The debate revolves around these questions: do I create? Or do I curate? I am truly curious as to why certain marketing leaders feel that the only way to preserve their brand, their values, and their voice is through what they control and content they create. My curiosity continues when the discussion leads then to “to curate or not to curate?” And those same leaders are quick to argue that if they curate, they are no longer original, creative, or controlled.
My argument goes something like this: For goodness sake, with social networks, who can control anything anyway? People are going to read what they want and take away what they believe to be good, bad, or indifferent. So my belief is that the real marketing leaders will take hold of a balanced approach to getting their messages to their audience. They will curate, and they will create. They will leverage different channels to get their story told. They will understand who is at the other end of those channels, and make sure that what they say is compelling and making an impact on the reader. The best will tell fun, exciting, enduring stories and they will be the first to engage with something that is different. Their new cocktail is one that is intoxicating, memorable, and engaging enough to keep the audience drinking more. The perfect balance of one shot of created mixed with 2 shots of curated.
I love marketing because it allows us to be creative. I love the Internet because it brings us new and interesting stories. I love to create content because I have a story to tell. And there’s no reason why those can’t all combine in perfect harmony.
0 Comments Click here to read/write comments Posted by Patricia Hume on Thu, Sep 12, 2013 @ 05:03 PM Tweet
Four leaf clovers are rare and very hard to find. They are symbols of luck and, as such, the bearer is better off for having found one. These little gems do exist, but it takes patience to sort through thousands and thousands of three leaf clovers to find one – an arduous task. The largest four leaf clover collection is held by George J Kaminski, who single-handily collected 72,927 – and he found them within the grounds of a prison in Pennsylvania. I guess he had a lot of time on his hands. Though as a career criminal, one might question his luck.
As marketers we face a new – but similar – challenge. We need to provide our customers and prospects with information that is revealing, unique, and engaging – content that must be relevant and timely. Finding relevant content can be difficult and expensive. There is just too much data out there, both in the public domain and in your company’s private domains. As we all know searching for information using today’s search engines is time consuming and not always rewarding, and finding those little four-leafed gems is even harder. And you probably don’t have as much time on your hands as George.
Our audience wants and expects us to help them understand and learn what to buy and why they should buy it. In today’s world of instant information, we know that when a prospect comes to us with an intent to purchase, they have already done their research and narrowed the number of suppliers to just a few. You can bet that they are already at least half way through their buying decision cycle. It is up to us as marketers to ensure that our brand and our story is the one that is most compelling so that we capture their interest and have an opportunity to win their business. Remember, it is not the leads that we know we lost that are most troubling – at least we learn something. Rather, it is instead losing a lead we never had the chance to convert.
Discovering relevant content is everything. Curating content from sources other than your own is critical. Delivering content in a manner that your audience wants is fundamental. As a marketer you must design and execute a content strategy that is rich with the information that compels your audience to take a deeper look at your product. In short, since your audience does not likely have George Kaminski’s time on their hands, you need to figure out how to make it fun and easy to find those four leaf clovers that make you stand out in a field crowded with ordinary three-leafers.
The challenges that you face are time, volume, cost and relevancy. At Trapit we can help with all of this. Our new Content Curation Center will allow you to discover, trap, and deliver the content you need to stay ahead of the crowd. We reduce the time and costs associated with human curation while ensuring that you are finding those gems that keep your audience coming back. And this is not about luck – it is about applying the right solution to help you rapidly and efficiently solve these challenges.
Come and visit us at Trapit and see how fun we make it to help you find your four leaf clovers.
0 Comments Click here to read/write comments Posted by Patricia Hume on Tue, Jul 30, 2013 @ 12:58 PM Tweet
Trust. Trust is something that people value. When there is trust there is a sense of safety, a feeling of contentment, an overall belief that things are ok – perhaps better than ok. Think about who you trust: a doctor, a friend, a partner, even a pet. We learn trust based on consistency in our experience. The experience needs to be worthy of the trust we place in it. Trust can be achieved through a deeply personal experience, and sometimes trust is created because the masses have expressed their opinion. So through their collective delight, the natural outcome is one of naïve trust – not experienced but supported through the mere fact that if the crowd feels something is right – it must be right!
What is trust anyway? Is it a belief in something or someone? For instance, I trust you. Is it a hope? Or perhaps a promise? Yes, Yes, and Yes. So what is the relevance of trust as it relates to marketers…. and does it really matter?
Today, as in the past, companies bear the responsibility to build trust in the goods or services that they deliver to the market. There is a lot of noise about “promise of value” associated with companies brands. A promise is made and we are asked to believe and trust that the promise will be delivered. Think of the “good housekeeping” seal of approval, which gives instant credibility. Whether you are marketing cars, clothes, or canned goods, you want your audience to believe in what you are telling them – you need them to trust you so they will act.
Doesn’t every brand need to advise, teach, and coach in a manner that is tried, true, and trusted? Sure they do. But is trust enough?
Once again the marketers’ dilemma surfaces and new thinking is required. Buyers need more than to just trust in a brand. They need to view the brand promise and associated offering as something that is better than the alternative. The brand needs to differentiate not just by being a trusted advisor but also an advisor with credibility, authority, permission, and authenticity. The Internet houses an ocean of data and therein is the secret ingredient to advancing from the trusted advisor to the advisor who stands out as an authority who the buyer can trust.
Content is the all-important key– it is all about content and relevance. Content without relevance is like shoes with holes in the sole. Your audience demands that you provide information that means something to them. This helps them in their endeavors, and even if they don’t buy at first, they are appreciative and this appreciation renders itself in loyalty and eventual action.
Delivering the brand story with confidence and authority requires courage. Yes, courage. Because relevant content isn’t just about your company and its products and services, but all that surrounds, impacts, and influences it. That means that your competitors’ stories might need to appear in your content. Building credibility means you need to provide balanced and compelling stories…those that are interesting, but most importantly relevant.
Many companies define content as a keystone of their marketing strategy – yet a pretty website with lots of content that is myopic, overwhelming, unimaginative, or candidly boring is really not the way that brands become authorities. They become authorities by going beyond the norm – reaching out beyond the typical boundaries and telling stories that are important, provocative and relevant so that people keep wanting more – keep coming back – and why? It’s simple. They trust that you are an authority not only with your products and services, but an authority about the sector and all that surrounds it.
At Trapit we can help you become the authority that is trusted. With our Content Curation Center you can discover and deliver relevant real time content on your website, through email, on smartphones, tablets, or through social outlets. And guess what – it’s fun and easy. Come and visit us at Trap.it – we are your authority when it comes to creating content that counts. Let us make you one too.
0 Comments Click here to read/write comments Posted by Patricia Hume on Tue, Jul 09, 2013 @ 11:57 AM Tweet
Storytelling has endured as a form of communication since before humans invented the written word. Throughout the centuries telling stories was a way to educate and preserve. It informed vital political, religious, cultural and family matters. Without stories, history, values, events, even a good laugh would have been lost. Stories have been told not only in the narrative sense but also through art – think about the stories told in caves, pottery, fabrics, coffins, and other artifacts. Imagine just how personalized and relevant these stories must have been.
We learn through stories – we remember facts better when there is a context in which they are presented. Most of us recall vividly stories we heard as children. Fairytales, nursery rhymes, and fables that our families shared with us – these all had purpose. They became something that we believe in – something that we go back to time and time again – something that, in some cases, built our core values and eternal truths.
How do we bridge our love of storytelling to today’s reality? Humans have been telling stories in different ways throughout history. With new inventions we are able to reach more broadly and with new ways to communicate. From a picture on a wall to a digitally created application – the spectrum is broad and the results through time are staggering. The Internet has provided us an ability to know about stories that we otherwise might never see. But therein lies the challenge. How do you discover stories that really matter to you?
Stories are extremely relevant in how we think about marketing our companies, our products, or ourselves. Many brand executives would argue that it is the story not the features/function of the product that captures the audience and keeps them connected. The ability for a brand to present itself in context with something that resonates with the target audience is essential to drive a trusted relationship. This ability to provide a context around the brand and educate your audience is what differentiates a great marketing strategy from a good one. We are all hearing the buzz about “content marketing”. So what kind of content should be marketed?
Let’s step back for a moment and think about this marketer’s dilemma. How does the marketer educate while driving loyalty, capturing the audience with something that really matters to them? Making it personal – something that we say “oh yeah – I understand – I get it – I need it – I will buy it.” And then ensure that they come back time and time again – because they believe and they are loyal.
Are brands now becoming publishers? Do brands need to publish contextual stories so that they educate and delight their customers? Few would argue that this is probably true – so now the question becomes how to deliver the “promise of value” in a compelling story AND make it personal.
Hypothetically let’s take a stab –
Let’s say a given soap is marketed as a great moisturizer for women’s skin – leaving skin soft, subtle and clean. The story line is about a woman who used the soap and received great results. Perhaps this is enough for the consumer to decide to trust the soap based on the personal results of the woman who tells her story…
But what if not only could one hear her story – but also could also start to learn about what else is important regarding women’s skincare, health concerns, cosmetics, new medical procedures and the like. What if the brand could begin to publish this type of relevant, personal and real-time content to the potential customer?
This example can be applied to almost anything.
The answer to making this a reality can be quite simple. How about creating an application that provides the stories, relevant, personalized, customized, real-time and mobile – that seems like a great place to start. And in order to do this well it is important to have access to great content – content that is original and of high quality. And much of the content that might apply could be hidden somewhere inside your organization. Perhaps somewhere in those databases that are very hard to navigate.
Or leverage your website and house cool stories that delight and educate your audience and capture mindshare. Remembering that it is important that the stories be pertinent and available – allowing your customer to read the stories where and when they want to – this too will create value – why – because you are making it simple for them.
At Trapit we provide an easy and comprehensive way to support marketers in becoming a trusted advisor, educator, and storyteller. We are supporting publishers and marketers with an ability to access our 100K plus vetted sources, integrate in their own sources, and provide a real time, highly personalized, and mobile experience. With Trapit you can capture your audience with something that really matters to them.
Come learn to tell stories again – visit us at www.trapit.com
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