Storytelling and digital transformation with Microsoft’s Miri Rodriguez

By: Colm

October 30, 2017


#DMWF - Content Marketing - Featured -

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The art of storytelling is an important skill for any brand to learn. In today’s crowded marketplace, where vast multitudes of brands are constantly jockeying for the limited attention of consumers, simply shouting louder or more regularly than your competitors is not enough.

With so much choice out there, consumers need to feel some sort of connection to the brands they interact with. The last few decades have seen brand storytelling moving out of the exclusive domain of journalists and advertising and into social media, video and originally created content.

This is, however, an area that many brands struggle to get right. How should they look to balance the telling the story of why a brand does what it does, with the practicalities of actually promoting specific products or services?

We spoke to Miri Rodriguez, a storyteller at Microsoft, to find out. She’s speaking at DMWF New York with a session titled ‘Storytelling that doesn’t suck: beyond content marketing’.

Hi Miri! Why do brands need to tell stories?

“Today, brands need to tell stories in order to successfully drive their business, connect with partners and customers and showcase their products and services. It is no longer effective to just talk about a product and its features.

“In the midst of this digital transformation and generational shift, the way brands can set themselves apart is to tell the unique story of how their products and services are adding value to the customer. If brands don’t focus on taking the customer through a remarkable odyssey of content, they will have a hard time keeping those customers.”

Why do consumers react so well to brand stories?

“The connected and tech savvy customer has already done research about a product or service before he or she makes a purchase. Good brand stories make customers care about their product or service. Great brand stories make customers part of the story.

“Customers react so well to brand stories because they see themselves in the allegory. They are immersed into the narrative and connect to the brand experience. They see themselves as a partner, not a consumer and this adds value and authenticity to their individual experience.”

Are there different kinds of stories that brands can tell? Should brands only focus on telling one central story or should they tell lots of smaller ones?

“There are many different stories a brand can and should tell…so long as it always ties back to the main story: Why the brand exists.

“Each brand has a unique story and mission and this is what every other story should always come back to.

“Brands should be telling stories from different aspects of the business: sales, marketing, operations, customer service as each has an exclusive positioning in the brand narrative touching every aspect of the customer experience. The ultimate brand story will weave a tapestry of anecdotes and allegories into the ultimate goal and purpose of the brand.”

When you talk to other brands or speak at events like DMWF, what is the biggest problems companies seem to have with regards to their storytelling?

“I would say the biggest challenge big and small brands are having is trying to unify their brand voice and identify their main story. It’s important to understand that storytelling is not marketing content. It should be seen as a business strategy that can drive cultural transformation from the inside out.

“It takes bringing every representation of discipline in the business, sharing storytelling goals and unifying the story before telling a great story. If this is not done at the beginning, brands will find themselves telling separate stories from different areas of the organization, and that will make them look less authentic.”

What do you think the biggest trends in content marketing will be over the next few years?

“Artificial intelligence, machine learning, virtual and augmented reality will all be taking over in the very near future. What this means to content marketing is that marketers will have to think about how to incorporate all these form factors into their storytelling and the implications these bring when weaving the customer narrative as part of it.

“Content strategy and delivery will be challenging when deciding which channels to use. Part of the digital transformation is to start thinking about how the customer experience is going to play out through these technologies and what type of content is going to be most effective across the board. This is why it is extremely important that brands really understand who their audience is, what they want and where they’re going.”

Miri Rodriguez will be giving a talk at DMWF New York on 7-8 November.