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Storylistening: What Matters to Your Customer?

Dec 23, 2016

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By Miriam Rupp

Founder and CEO, Mashup Communication
Berlin, DE

Who are your customers and what are they really interested in? This is the core issue of native advertising. Market research, quantitative analysis and customer ratings are well-known tools, which help to understand target groups. However, allowing clients to express themselves and to tell their own stories is also a successful principle for companies.

Dove, Gatorade and Janssen Deutschland have proven this with their powerful campaigns. Storylistening has also been useful to other brands to find their stories and by doing so to satisfy their customers’ needs. The following strategies will help companies to understand where to find customer stories, to perceive their needs and to see how brands can engage with their target groups in the long run.

Listen to their conversations: Monitoring social media

Social media not only offer a great possibility to tell stories: Facebook, Twitter & Co are easily accessible and rich sources for all storylisteners. From your own computer you can virtually move to the places where customers already are present, where they talk about their daily lives, where they ask questions and connect with each other. A basic Google search of ‘forum’ plus the respective niche can give a revealing insight into the problems and aspects users discuss directly with each other.

Related: Top Trends for Native Advertising

All this information can also serve as a hook for a good story. Corporate storytellers can also gain further inspiration from comments on relevant blogs as well as from Facebook posts or on Twitter. Real-time monitoring of social media content is still a pretty recent challenge for many companies. However, those who manages to monitor their social media will be able to participate in conversations and to contribute to stories that already exist.

The advertisers at Opel showed that they have recognized their audience’s expectations and met them by employing stories

Topics and trends as an opportunity: Buzzfeed und Edition F show how

Changes in the media landscape open up new spaces and possibilities for native advertising. International advertisers have known platforms that are largely drawing attention from the public audience for a long time. One of them is BuzzFeed. Opel was the first German brand to use this channel in order to bring specially tailored ads to their target group – in an interesting storylistening manner. Opel appeared transparently as brand publisher of one of BuzzFeed’s typical listicle called “13 things that are small but tough” which included the new Opel Adam.

This way, the advertisers at Opel showed that they have recognized their audience’s expectations and met them by employing stories. But also new types of magazines like Edition F put emphasis on their readers’ stories and topics, integrating native advertising consciously into their business plan. An example for taking up empowerment topics is the interview with a businesswoman, which was published by the initiative “She’s Mercedes” and is labeled as an ad very subtly at the end of the article.

These two aspects are the crucial base and the main goal of storytelling

Shift your perspective: Practicing with the Empathy Map

Perceiving and reflecting the needs of the audience and creating empathy among narrators and listeners – these two aspects are the crucial base and the main goal of storytelling. Companies who want to spread thrilling narrations should at first open up to the topics circulated by their customers in order to identify native content.

The Empathy Map, which was developed within the concept of Design Thinking, is a great tool to learn how to change perspective and to put oneself in the audience’s shoes. To detect what customers really want to hear about, an overview of their multiple perspectives helps to find out which subjects really matter to the target group. In order to get a better evaluation of customers’ needs, a qualitative basis can be offered with precise questions about the customers’ words, actions, thoughts, and feelings – providing companies with a profound data basis for further analysis. Personal conversations, quantitative surveys or assessments can improve or validate the topics.

Related: The Psychology Behind Stories

If the product’s target group is mothers, for instance, a good source for further stories can be to include the perspective of fathers, children, best friends or grandparents. A good example of switching the perspective onto female family leaders in a surprisingly way is the campaign #worldstoughestjob by the greeting card website Cardstore. The campaign’s central element is a YouTube video which shows how applicants of the fictitious vacancy of the “Director of Operations” have to face impossible challenges via video chat. No heart is left untouched when the recruiter reveals that the description of the job is actually being a “Mom”. Over 26 million viewers have already seen the video by now.

At the moment two big technology brands are moving closer to their customers’ needs and away from the actual product: Vodafone and E-Plus. While Vodafone is using the magazine “featured” to raise attention among their customers with informative and entertaining content (e.g. iPhone myths), E-Plus is offering digital and mobile lifestyle news to the same target group on the platform “curved”. “My Tech instead of High Tech” underlines this customer-oriented approach and at the same time stresses the value of storylistening for native advertising.

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Photo credit: PJ Accetturo/Unsplash

Story by Miriam Rupp

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