Motivational Monday: Happy New Year!

“We see our customers as invited guests to a party, and we are the hosts. It’s our job to make the customer experience a little bit better.” –Jeff Bezos,

happy new yearHAPPY NEW YEAR! As you get ready to head to your New Year’s Eve soirees and ring in 2016, work might be the furthest thing from your mind. However, we can all learn a thing or two from the way we interact at cocktail parties.

A great conversationalist at a party isn’t just a good talker, they’re a good listener. They keep things easygoing and they show interest in the person they’re speaking to. Treat your marketing like a great conversation—frame your message around what’s interesting to your customers!

Keep your message easy to follow and add some fun! As you go into the New Year, steer your content toward your customer and show them all the ways your brand is cool and exciting, makes a difference, or appeals to their unique needs. Help raise their intrigue and interest and you’ll be the most popular brand at the party!

As you’re having fun at your New Year’s Eve festivities, take a few mental notes and get ready to apply them in the New Year. For more ideas on how to ring in 2016 with a bang, be sure to follow Cultivate on LinkedIn or subscribe below to receive Motivational Monday updates in your inbox each week.


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5 Ways to Tell a Great Marketing Story

Storytelling is foundational to being human. Even before cavemen first scratched drawings on cave walls, our legacies, lives and lessons were passed down by word-of-mouth, across cultures and spanning generations. We use stories all the time: to recount our day, to share our histories, to teach children caution, to scare the pants off campers, and to entertain everyone, everywhere. Most importantly, we use stories to connect with other human beings.

We use stories to connect with other human beings. The best stories are compelling; they speak to our passions and capture our imaginations. That’s why effective marketing hinges on great storytelling.

The best stories are compelling; they speak to our passions and capture our imaginations.

That’s why effective marketing hinges on great storytelling.

Here are 5 ways to ensure your marketing story is compelling…and irresistible to your prospects.

1. Cast Your Customers

Every story starts with a great cast. Sure, there’s your awesome company hero…maybe a plucky CEO who dropped out of college to start a company in his dad’s garage with just a few friends and a shoestring budget. The company grew and grew until it changed the world. Now that seems like an obvious hero. Well, his name is Bill Gates, but he’s not the real star of this show.

The hero of your story isn’t you—and it isn’t your business, either. Today’s audiences can find these kinds of stories egotistical and uninspiring. Your real hero is your customer, so write your story about them. Better yet: Tell their stories.

2. Use Imaginative Imagery

Whether you’re writing a blog post or creating an all-out advertisement, imagery is crucial. You can write that imagery right into your content or show amazing imagery via superb graphic design or interesting infographics. Imagery is the secret to really wowing your prospects right off the bat.

Check out how GE took our breath away with this beauty:

3. Present a Vexing Villain

In any great story, there’s always an obstacle standing in the way of success. What seemingly insurmountable hurdle is preventing your customers from attaining their goals? Your job is to supply the tools they need to slay their business dragons.

The Allstate Mayhem commercials: seriously, what’s not to love? They’re hilarious, yes, but this villain is relatable and familiar to so many of us, we just can’t help but consider the real-life message behind the mayhem. Now that’s effective marketing.

4. Evoke Emotion

Whether B2B or B2C, today’s consumers are looking for stories that connect us as human beings. These are stories that evoke emotion, bringing us together and inspiring us to feel something…and feel something powerful whenever possible.

While the ASPCA’s animal cruelty commercials are probably the most poignant example, let’s try on something that’s a little more…not completely and totally depressing. These (much more uplifting) Pedigree commercials are sure to tug at your heartstrings.

A dog makes your life happier. Adopt.

5 Ways to Tell a Great Marketing Story


5. Hone in on a Happy Ending

Your marketing stories should focus on how your customers can achieve their goals and overcome their problems using your products and services so they can find their own happy ending. To add depth and character development to your story, consider your customer’s goals as a fundamental transformation. How does your solution transform the customer? How is your story inspiring?

Have a look at this fun Chevrolet commercial, “Little Engineer.” Chevy took a bold and broad approach, showing how their innovative designs today might inspire the innovative designers and doers of the future.

Chevrolet: “Little Engineer” Commercial from Jorge Garduño on Vimeo.

Remember: Storytelling connects us as human beings; it’s powerful and dynamic, and stories truly inspire us and make us feel alive. Telling a great marketing story is a spectacular way to connect with your prospects and customers. Show your customers how your goods or services transform their business—and the world. Above all, be honest and make your customers the stars of the show. You’ll draw in more new business and keep your existing customers coming back for more.


Side Door Thinking: Learn the smart marketing tactics you need to truly engage with more customers.Stop banging on the front door of your customer’s mind …when the side door is wide open! Download this FREE guide, Side Door Thinking, to discover how you can use storytelling as part of an effective content marketing strategy.

You’ll learn how to:
  • Increase Your Referral Rate
  • Increase Your Social Media Reach
  • Leverage New Product Lines & Revenue Streams
  • Earn Your Customer’s Loyalty & Business
  • Position Yourself As An Industry Leader & Trusted Resource


Fuel Their Passion: Stirring Up True Intensity in Your Customer Base

Passion is intense, craveable, inspiring…and above all, authentic. You can’t fake passion, you can’t buy it, and you can’t make other people feel it if you don’t. So how do you get your customer base to feel the excitement?

Show your passion.
When you’re inspired by what you do, it’s easy to inspire others. Tell your customers why you’re excited and invite them to get excited with you. Take a marketing hype lesson directly from Steve Job’s launch playbook. Treat every launch with “change the world” enthusiasm, even if it’s not all that new and different. Your new product, whatever it is, is the best thing ever. If you believe it, they’ll believe it. Bringing that kind of enthusiasm to a B2B scenario requires a deep understanding of customers’ pain points. Show your customers how you can fix their problems and make their lives easier in the process.

Tap into their passions.
Give your prospects and customers awesome, branded shareable graphics that speak to their interests. For example, if you’re paying attention to your customers’ social data, you can find out what TV shows they watch and build graphics around quotes:

“Winter is Coming.” -House of Stark (from Game of Thrones)

This theme is perfect for a retail store. Add “Be Warm” or “We Have Sweaters! Visit” Overlay the quotes and your brand on a picture of a warm outfit and voila! the copy writes itself. You should be able to find an appropriate quote for any kind of business…and be sure to throw in a little humor.

“It’s not that ‘content is king,’ but content certainly is The Hand of the King.” ~ Marshall Simmonds, Define Media Group. (See what he did there?)

Invite customers to participate.
User Generated Content (UGC) is hot, and customers love it. Give them a reason to participate and they’ll jump right in with selfies, poetry, memes, and even performances. Some of the biggest brands around have launched UGC campaigns, including Lego, T-Mobile and Pepsi—but you don’t have to be one of the big-guys to do it!

Show some love.
You’re never going to get customers to trumpet their love from the rooftops unless you show them love first. And that love needs to extend past the hot-new-romance honeymoon phase while you’re trying to get that first sale. Oh, no. You need to bring the heat all through the life of your relationship. Give your former and current customers the incentive they need with a little VIP treatment to make them feel special. Massage their cares away.

What is Marketing’s Impact on Innovation for Growth? Download this whitepaper on Growth Cycle MarketingLet’s be honest here. New customers are passionate and fun for a time, but the real love (and the big money) is in your stable, long-term customer relationships. Learn more about treating your customers right over the long haul with our free guide to Growth Cycle Marketing.


Give out content they want to share.
Great content inspires passion. That’s just the way the web works. People search for information, you provide what they want, they’re happy, and they tell their friends. Simple. Figure out what your prospects are searching for and give them lots of it. Provide the answer to every question you can conceive they’ll ask.

Break the rules.
Be the kind of company you want to be, and not the kind of company that represents tradition in your industry. Break the stuffy old mold. Let your customers see your personality. Some industries, like stock trading, lean on gravitas and dignity, because what says, “Trust me with your money” more than high ceilings, marble floors, and somber men in expensive suits?

But eTrade came along to make the point that anyone can trade stocks…so simple even a baby can make money in the market. eTrade chose to eschew the traditional route favored by old money and appeal to the masses. The day after the first Super Bowl ad featuring the eTrade baby aired, more new users signed up than on any other day in the company’s history. Six years later, one of the most memorable campaigns in history has finally come to an end.

The bottom line? Customer engagement. If you want customers to love you, shower them with attention, gifts and thoughtfulness…without smothering them with sales pitch after sales pitch. True passion isn’t demanding, and it isn’t one-sided, either. Excitement is contagious.