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Accurately Tell Your Brand Story in a Fragmented World


by Michael Weissman -

Are you looking to build your brand and create a lasting, positive image in the market? The challenge is often these stories must be communicated through partners (resellers, bloggers and others) and their websites. That’s where the trouble begins.

Communicating our brand stories through others online is tricky. As soon as important marketing and product content is distributed to partners, several key problems emerge. The first problem is accuracy. Partners don’t always use the correct marketing content. The second problem is the partner usually doesn’t have enough space to tell the whole story on the website. This causes them to pick and choose which parts of the story get told. As a result, marketers lose complete visibility and control over their brand. The third problem is, over time, the content on the site gets stale or becomes obsolete and inaccurate. The final problem is the content tends to be elemental—meaning only one kind of content (a video, a slide show, an image, etc.). The total brand story is rarely told in an integrated, organized fashion. It’s like the old game of telephone. As each person passes the story along, it gets watered down, distorted and corrupted.

In the old days, a national brand could succeed without partners by having a terrific website. However, in today’s highly distributed shopping environment, that is no longer a viable approach. National brand owners must rely more on partners to tell their stories for them. As content gets dispersed across the web to partners, there is no way for marketers to know where the content goes. This “spray and pray" approach is like shooting in the dark. Marketers don’t know where their un-tethered content elements go, who uses them, or whether they are up to date. Marketers are now stuck with ceding control over their online brand experience to information technology (IT) managers who control reseller websites or news sites. As a result, marketers face an ongoing tug-of-war battle between widespread distribution of the brand experience, and the desire to ensure its consistent and complete delivery.

Worse yet, shoppers have short attention spans and consume content in smaller bits and from multiple sources at different times. This results in highly fragmented and disjointed brand stories. Imagine watching a movie one minute per day in 120 days. If you did that, you’d never understand the story being told. It would be too disjointed. Well, that’s where Internet marketing has been heading. Marketers spread their content across multiple locations. They put one element of the story on a reseller’s site, another element in a news article, some more on social media or YouTube and so forth. It’s like the marketer is painting a picture—a mosaic that pieces the story fragments together to deliver a complete picture of the brand. Yet, marketers must rely on shoppers to visit all the locations to see all the pieces and put the story together for themselves. How often does the viewer see the whole picture? Rarely.

What’s a marketer to do? How do you ensure the story received is accurate and up to date? Clearly, new tools and new approaches are needed.

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