Post-its on a board

From storytelling to a dialogue

Storytelling is a powerful way to get your message across. Whether you’re trying to communicate a product’s unique selling point or a company strategy, a story is a powerful way to do it. That said, should the importance of dialogue be raised alongside with the widely hyped storytelling? Is storytelling alone enough to get your message across anymore?

Content is everywhere. We are surrounded by thousands of messages each moment. Storytelling is an effective way to communicate, as the elements of a story resonate with the very core of our DNA. With a story, it’s possible to communicate in ways that evoke feelings and connect us to the message – stories tend to stick with us. And branding is about creating things that are memorable and meaningful.

But storytelling alone is no longer enough for brand building and effective customer communications.

Time to move from storytelling towards a dialogue

Storytelling is challenged by the growing need for more human-centric and personalized marketing communications.

The pursuit of dialogue or genuine conversation with the customer is not a new phenomenon at all. In the beginning of 2010, Facebook gained a significant position in corporate marketing communications in Finland, and since then the pace has only accelerated. And not just Facebook, but also Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat, and other social media platforms are based on conversations. Social media challenged companies to take part in the conversation - some have succeeded in it, others have not.

In 2019, human-to-human conversations are on the decline and we’re increasingly talking with services or products. The brand's voice may be a chatbot or some other automated service in client encounters. Businesses have been able to practice conversing with users in social media and chats, but the fact is that the time of the dialogue is still ahead of us.

Voice UIs, or voice in general, is a growing means of doing marketing as well as customer communications. And if you’re not thinking ahead, your product will have a voice of its own that doesn’t reflect your brand. When working with voice UIs, you need to be sure that the way the communication flows and how it sounds is dictated by your brand - not by the technology you’re using to build a voice UI.

The importance of real conversations is underpinned by the rise of marketing automation and the growing need for an even more personalized messaging. When personalization is growing in importance in marketing communications and digital design, having a real conversation with your customer will be a distinct competitive advantage when attempting to leave an imprint of your brand to the customer.

Time for a value-adding conversation with the customer

We must strive for a genuine discussion with the customer, which requires a lot of customer insight and data, but also a lot more personal approach to marketing communications. How are we going to be able to communicate the brand in conversations in the future?

It may seem difficult or unnecessary to define a unique tone of voice for your company - the brand is still mostly perceived as a very visual thing. But when there’s only voice or text as a way to leave a trace in the minds of the target audience, the tone of voice needs to be more subtle and tangible than ever. The importance of an emotive and consistent tone of voice will be more important than ever.

How to prepare for the future

Get ready for more personalized digital communications. If you haven’t had the courage to take a leap into conversations yet, it's a high time to do that. For personalized marketing, you must have a 360-view of the customer. We need to effectively and transparently gather information about the customers so that we can meet their wishes in the future.

Remember that if you expect a customer to give you information, you must be able to give something back: better and faster service at the right moment. You must be ready to solve a customer's problems despite the time and place.

And most importantly, make sure your company has a clear brand guide that also tells how your business feels and sounds when it discusses, talks, or listens. You must be able to distinguish yourself from the competition and leave a mark even when the visual means are not available.

Want to hear more about designing conversations or defining your brand’s tone of voice? Feel free to contact me at laura.hinkkanen@frantic.com.