People like stories.

Since early humans drew stories on the inside of caves, since they told stories around the community fire, since they sang them in songs, showed them on the stage, in movies, on TV…and, yes, wrote them in books, people like stories.

Great advertising was launched with good stories.

TED Talks are based on good stories. For that matter, what are we doing with Facebook? Telling our personal stories (well, I am telling my kids’ stories but they don’t know it yet). There are over 1 billion Facebook users, 35 million books in the Library of Congress, somewhere over 1 million movies, and over 1,500 TED talks. Bob Dylan wrote over 450 stories. We are constantly telling stories.

Yet, on a recent Saturday morning, the view outside my window was filled with an advertisement in the sky for a major global insurance company. Just the name. A fading white trail in the sky. No story.

When it comes to advertising and marketing, we are at a crossroads. It’s harder and harder to reach our target markets with big brand advertising, and discerning consumers (us) still want a great story.

Enter content marketing. There are cynics who would claim that content and marketing don’t belong in the same sentence much less the same term. Type “content” into Google and content marketing pops up.  Click on that and, lo and behold, up pops the Content Marketing Institute. A whole darned institute.

What is great about the Content Marketing Institute is that they have come up with a fantastic definition of the purpose of content marketing that is not “It’s sorta like, ya know…” The Institute says, “Content marketing’s purpose is to attract and retain customers by consistently creating and curating relevant and valuable content with the intention of changing or enhancing consumer behavior. It is an ongoing process that is best integrated into your overall marketing strategy, and it focuses on owning media, not renting it.” Nice job.  Isn’t this a bit like creating stories—relevant and valuable content?

Using research as a cornerstone of content marketing programs makes sense. Call it opinion research or PR research….this kind of research provides custom, proprietary content that is relevant and valuable to your customers.  It speaks to them. Through our research for clients, we tell the story of the results in an interesting way that, of course, keeps the integrity of the data while speaking to your audience.  It’s a story, but not a fairy tale.

Initially, through interviews and press releases, these studies are covered across multiple communication channels (aka earned media). Many of our clients extend the reach of their content through infographics, PowerPoint slide shows, videos, postings on Facebook and LinkedIn, tweets and blogs.

Howard Gardner who teaches cognition at Harvard says, “Anything that is worth teaching can be presented in many different ways. These multiple ways can make use of our multiple intelligences.

End of story. Or just the beginning?


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