Story-Commerce: How Brand Storytelling Supports Sales!

Molly and I worked together at evo for a number of years and her vision as to how content would transform digital marketing was ahead of its time and much of what she predicted in the early days has come true.  She has since gone on to build a very successful boutique creative agency called WeAreUnicorns that helps brand effectively communicate.


Molly Hawkins:      We live in a very exciting time with access to all kinds of technology, automation, personalization, and data, on data, on data analysis of the analysis, but we've gone so far down the rabbit hole that we've forgotten our brand, that human connection of marketing. Everything that you see here is absolutely not at all what I'm going to be talking about. So, go ahead and forget about what you see on the screen.
                    So, marketing is all about making connections. So, it's about figuring out how you make people swipe right. For those of you who don't know what this is, I apologize. For those of you who do, maybe I'll see you later. But, I'm Molly [crosstalk 00:00:48], lead strategist of We Are Unicorns. I'm 35, I have 20 tattoos. I love dogs. I'm here to talk about brand storytelling and to punctuate a point for you guys, and talk about how brand storytelling can help you with your marketing. 
                    We Are Unicorns is my company. I get paid to tell stories, come up with campaigns and strategies. Sometimes I even get to play with cameras and, what else? I can't remember ... wow, this is really generous. I [inaudible 00:01:14] on Facebook for a living, so that's why I call it Unicorns. It's like a mythical creature. When I set out to start We Are Unicorns, I basically was told that it would be very hard to compete with the big guys, and I said, "Not true." So, what did I have? Well, I had no agency experience whatsoever. I had a lot of ambition, experience with the tools, though, and I guess, me. That was the special sauce. So, I set out to differentiate and to tell my story. Similar to how all of you should consider telling your stories.
                    So, brand storytelling is no different than what we do in, I guess, our everyday lives. We're connecting with people searching for love on Tinder. It's very similar to trying to connect with your customers. So, I question whether this would be a tactical enough, actionable enough presentation, but there's just one point that I'm trying to illustrate here. It's about how you connect with your customer. I wanted to show you how I connect with you. So, I don't have a crazy story or a ton of capital or big name partners in my back pocket, but what I've done is leaned into what I know. It's about experiences, and it's about my story. It's not about the profile photo.
                    So, a lot of people in marketing go the quick wins, paying for attention, trying to grab me with ... or my prospective daters will try and get, pay for, Tinder Plus to try and get my attention, but it's still not enough. I need that backstory. It's really important. That's how I'm gonna connect with somebody.
                    So, paying for my attention is like going on a date like this. You expect to say yes to a date with no background or contacts or connection? No. Going on a date with someone I'm willing to share? No. As a brand, much like dating, you need to provide contacts. They are looking for a connection, like dating. If you try to propose on the first date, try to get someone to purchase on the first campaign, probably not gonna say yes. They might. And I'm sure some of you do get them to do that.
                    So, here's a landscape that I mocked up of other agencies that are doing what I'm doing in the Seattle area and close by. As you can see, we all kind of have leaned in to our personality and differentiated in different ways. So, I think this is a good example of looking at what you guys do from an eCommerce standpoint and lean into whatever that might be to connect with your audience. 
                    So, what is brand marketing? There's no one answer. This is an example of a client that I worked with, that basically is a coffee shop but how they tell their story, what they leaned into. It's about the culture. It's about the stories from their consumers, and their partners and the folks that they work with. 
                    so, why storytelling? It's a good question. Who here doesn't get transaction paralysis? And if you say yes, you're lying. But us in this room, we're the reason why people have transaction paralysis. So, in order to unparalyze people, we need to tell better stories. It's really important. Here's a landscape. How do you do it? Believe it or not, you all have everything you need. I believe people have been asking questions about brand. You might have [inaudible 00:04:07] founder's story, core values we're sharing, interesting approach to the space that you're in. There's a lot of different ways that you can really tease out that differentiator.
                    So, in the landscape that you just saw, you might have noticed Evo. That was really hard to notice. It was blending in. I worked at Evo in 2005 for about seven years and we decided to expand on our founder's story and the culture and the lifestyle that surrounds the sports, and that's what really allowed us to take it to the next level. So, we had our blog stories. So, we took those stories, we identified who our customer is, figured out what mattered to them, and then connected with them in the channels that they play in. So, we met them where they're at. So, instead of telling them where to come find us, we went to them.
                    Most of you probably know who your audience, who your customer is, and where you wanna play, but take a look at who your competitors are, what they're saying. Really ask your customers what they care about, and then align that with your business goals and your aspirations, and really whatever that value that you can provide to them. That will be your content story, or your content plan, and the brand story that you'll start telling through your different channels.
                    A lot of us are doing social reactively. You wanna be proactive about it. So, if you go through, take the steps to understand who you are and how to differentiate and how to connect with your customers ... in a perfect world you're gonna be creating your strategy and then pushing your content instead of reactively throwing it at the wall.
                    So, I bet you're wondering how do you do it? There is a very strategic way. [Britt 00:05:45] did an incredible job outlining the beginning steps in the five-point strategy to talking about your brand. But really, I guess the big point for me is, how does this connect to sales? You bottom line driven folks might think that I'm crazy, and what the hell does Tinder and dating have to do with sales? My goal as a marketer and a salesperson is to be memorable, and no matter the touchpoint, I offer 5% to customers. Same with dating right? Well, I guess proof is in the pudding, by taking the time to build out my dating strategy, my narrative, I can say that I found a happy customer, and I've been in a relationship for seven months now and I gotta say it works. Obviously, I have a handful of customers that I've worked with that it has worked for as well.
                    So, let's rewind [inaudible 00:06:34]. Had I just come up here and said I'm Molly, I work for Content Marketing Agency, and I'm gonna tell you about content marketing and here's some strategies. I bet you could have forgotten about me very easily, but hopefully you'll swipe right when you see me on Tinder.