July 12, 2016

gmm-2Yes, blame it on technology.  “18 months ago, we were okay without Waze, but now it’s the no. 1 reason why we’re late, or why we’re lost,” quips Jason Cruz.   As McCann Worldgroup’s Business Lead for Social, Cruz jokes about technology, and how it is right smack in the center of the story.   And, that is what Cruz is driving at: Stories.  Sharing his thoughts on content marketing, his main point is, “Content is nothing but good stories.”

Filipinos love a good story.  For Cruz, a great story, great content, should be universally entertaining, and it must be of value where people can get to learn something.   More importantly, content must be felt.  It must evoke emotion, for what triggers memory and loyalty but emotional affinity.

Perhaps there is some truth to hearing a story many times you can actually share it like it were your own.  In the digital world of online marketing, social media, brand sites, blogs have stood out because of its ability to blend in.  Blogs can camouflage as news, present itself as public service announcements, first-person perspectives, even advertorials.

According to Cruz, “Businesses benefit by creating value with useful content. Businesses that blog regularly rose up to 77% more traffic, and 97% more links the website than those that do not.

Blogs are powerful for brands because—as long as not selling a product—it’s more authentic.  It has to be written as a blog, and not as a product feature on a website.  I find it more powerful because it gives the viewer or reader a different perspective on why this brand is a ‘great’ brand.”

Cruz’s personal favorite blog is that of Virgin, Sir Richard Branson’s global brand.  Virgin’s blog does not feature products and services, instead it talks about leadership style, and company culture.   “What is does is, it makes me appreciate what Virgin does, because I understand why they do it.  That’s the one key ingredient that the modern consumer wants to see,” adds Cruz.

“Blogs are one way of doing it—not the only way.  It’s just one of the more convenient ways of telling the story.”

For brands to connect with consumers through content, it has to fill a void.  Entertainment, education and emotion are elements that can achieve that, but these do not necessarily sustain the connection.  The connection has to be clear, the elements of the tale must be understandable—memorable, even.  In fact, it has to have a clear call to action.

Consumers act because of the trust they’ve established with the brand—and trust is built on the discovery of common ground, of common values.  Beyond that, common values builds communities.

“‘I don’t want to buy a phone because I want to buy a phone.  I want to buy a phone that has some meaning for me, that will stand for the values that I stand.   That’s why people who are serious in photography will get a Samsung phone, and the ones that are into apps and tech will get an iPhone.  Not that one is wrong, and the other correct.  It’s because we are relating to why that company is selling their phones.  We have a different understanding of the brand story,” explains Cruz.

Any story has a beginning, and that’s the big question:  Where to begin?   Knowing what makes the consumer tick, understanding the brand and its category, and bridging these elements can be a good start.  And, there’s another thing to a good story, that’s culture.  That’s the element that builds communities, of people that share the same values.

“Culture is a specific quirk or nuance of the local market.  If brand’s market concept miss out on a cultural truth, it’s doomed to fail from the beginning. Global brands that come into the Philippines sometimes find it hard to push their brand story because they don’t quite know which heartstring to tug to talk to the Filipino consumer,” says Cruz. **

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