Storytelling, the ‘Love Drug’ and the Emotional Bridge

These days at PMX, we spend a lot of time thinking about Content, and even more time thinking about how to use it to design solutions. Yes, that’s Content with a capital “C.” But the goings-on aren’t just limited to the Content practice, where it’s our primary focus. It’s happening throughout the agency.

Why? We believe Content reaches out in all directions. The grand universe of Content is an incredibly busy place that grows larger and more nuanced all the time. It also encompasses important, constant elements. We’re working to embrace the constant change and the steady-state aspects, because Content is central to how we take on problems and tackle complex challenges for our clients and partners.

How Do We Define Content?

Full disclosure, we do not have a warehouse full of Content stocked up somewhere in the back of the office. (Although, I must admit, that would be a fine warehouse indeed.) And it’s not as if you can just send out a requisition order for a box or two, anyway. The good stuff – the kind of Content that moves the needle – must be built and made visible and attuned to business purposes. It is truly an art-and-science undertaking.

The good stuff is also more than component parts – written and spoken words, blog entries, social posts, still images, video, graphics and animations. It’s more than the channels, platforms and distribution outlets it populates. As my colleague Clay Cazier likes to say, “Content is bigger than Google.” In our lexicon, if it constitutes a point of customer engagement or consumer interaction, it’s probably content. Content serves as the strategic crossroads in a holistic brand ecosystem. A Content portfolio is a business asset with specific value and measurable impacts.

What Is the Value of Content?

Or, asked in a slightly different way, what can Content do? When it’s good, it can drive traffic, bring in new users, increase engagement, boost reach, and drive higher conversions. But Content’s true value isn’t simply reflected on spreadsheets, flowcharts or line-graphs. It comes through in a clear brand voice and a distinct identity. It rolls out the welcome mat to meet customers wherever they are and makes them feel at home. It resonates in the loyalty, empathy and customer retention that defines long-term brand vitality.

This ongoing activity and focus at PMX centers around high-value solutions. And as noted earlier, there are constants in the evolving universe. That’s where performance-based storytelling comes in. Storytelling has a very real, physiological impact. During his session at Content Marketing World back in September of this year, Joe Lazauskas, co-author of The Storytelling Edge, even conducted a live demo of the process. It turns out that when we hear compelling stories, our brains trigger the release of oxytocin. Secreted by the pituitary gland, oxytocin is known as the “love drug” and factors heavily in personal bonds and social relationships.

Through our performance lens, we understand this process and perceive the shared elements of great storytelling in any form – novelty, relatability, fluency, tension and resolution. This is the bridge we can build between empirical measurement and emotional attachment. It’s why we hold creative assets, rooted in data-driven insights, as fundamental to our problem-solving work.

When Is Content the Answer?

Sometimes it’s an easy call. There’s a blog re-launch on the horizon. There’s a new product line debuting next quarter. Or maybe there’s an existing site portfolio that needs to be sorted and optimized. Other times, it’s a matter of recognizing strategic Content as a viable remedy, in the absence of an obvious request or segue. Often, frustrations stem from customer-feedback hurdles or hard-to-pin-down symptoms. The resulting wish-list statements might sound like these:

“We have taken this as far as we can take it in-house.”

“We wish we had newer, younger customers.”

“We’re not reaching the consumers we want to reach.”

“We need new leads at the top of the funnel.”

“We’re losing share in our traditional lines of business.”

“Our retention and drop-out rates seem low.”

“We don’t have as many repeat customers as we used to.”

“Our newsletters should have better open rates.”

“Everything we post on Facebook gets negative comments.”

For each of those issues and concerns, an integrated approach to Content can offer a path forward. Oh, and if any of those comments seem familiar, we should talk.

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