Storytelling in the age of content marketing

Has content marketing changed consumers?

My version of the customer decision journey

My colorful version of the customer decision journey. Click to view McKinsey’s version.

The question popped into my mind while reading this blog post on Pamorama. Pam neatly shows two models for the process a customer goes through before (and in the second case, after) they make a purchase.

There’s quite a difference between the two models. But does that difference reflect a change in consumers? If so, did content marketing cause that change?

The pre-content marketing sales funnel

The pre-content marketing sales funnel shows a straightforward process with a beginning and an end. At the end, you’ve bought something. Congratulations! Goodbye – and you never hear from the (web) shop again.

When, if ever, did this sales funnel model match reality? Under what circumstances is there no contact between ‘shopkeeper’ and consumer after the purchase – or, would one map only this part of the process?

The one situation in which real life closely resembles a one-way street that ends at the moment of a purchase, is, or rather was:

  • in cities with large numbers of shops and shoppers, when businesses had difficulty keeping track of customers who went shopping
  • before (and in the early stages of) the internet, when little could be measured apart from mailings sent, visits to the shop, and purchases made.
  • wherever earning customer loyalty the old-fashioned way didn’t seem to work (or was forgotten) and where people had yet to get used to loyalty programs.

Via I found an interview with David Edelman (with transcript) that reflects much of my own thinking about the traditional sales funnel. It’s worth noting that ‘advanced’ versions of the sales funnel do have a feedback loop after the sale.

Plugging marketing into sales: content marketing and the buyer cycle

The development of the internet means that, with the right tools, businesses can follow their customers’ decision journey. Provided there’s enough of a journey online to make sense of it.

Mapping out the route consumers are taking is a good start. But it might suggest steps to improve what your statistics tell you.

Content marketing – the doorway to next generation storytelling

An important part of content marketing is storytelling. Businesses have encountered some difficulties in their attempts to come up with stories that not only keep them informed and entertained, but that help establish a continued feeling of connected-ness that inspires loyalty.

Getting crowded: buyer cycle with content but without taking into account the difference between customers...

Getting crowded: buyer cycle with content for each stage
– but without taking into account the difference between customers…


Content marketing, storytelling, and our need for trust

Storytelling in real life happens in good shops at relatively quiet moments. In book stores, shoe shops, toy stores… any kind of shop with well-informed employees (or owners) who love what they do and who don’t mind sharing a few things with interested customers. Whether or not they actually sell them anything that day.

As cities and shops grew, the stories grew into advertising. When we went online, those big stories were the first to follow. Content marketing tries to (re)connect with the customer through a more intimate and relevant storytelling – to establish a level of trust that is more commonly found in small-scale towns and stores. But content marketing is still marketing in that it relies on a systematic approach of consumers.

Content marketing offers the technique to approach the old-fashioned in-person storytelling. So… has content marketing changed consumers?

5 thoughts on “Storytelling in the age of content marketing

    • Successfully outsourcing anything means quality briefing… it will cost you more than just money – you always need to invest your time and effort.
      Most businesses don’t want to end up with content that belongs in someone’s diary, that is brimming with a level of enthusiasm you’d expect in a six-year-old but not in your customers, or that shows all the signs of having been slapped together after a few online searches.
      On the other hand, if the content you receive is at least marginally better than the content you create on your worst days…

  1. It is definitely possible.
    You can do a search for copy-writers ..hire one and share with him or her, key points about your business, brand or yourself.

    You can even give them examples of how you write copy, so your audience will get the same kind of content that you have been delivering..

    • Hi Mariano, you’re absolutely right: you would definitely need to share that kind of information. What happens next depends on the quality of the copywriter.
      Odd but true: not everyone who can write content for you is used to SEO. So make sure they optimize any copy they create for the keywords you want to focus on.

  2. Exactly! make sure they know SEO, good point!

    There are countless outsourcing sites out there that allow you to find copy-writters and people that can create content for you but some suck.

    Overall, I’d recommend:

    1. Odesk
    2. Elance
    3. Freelancer

    You can also hire Filipinos – These guys are pretty smart and they know their shit! SEO, Php, good english, video marketing and more!

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