|Jon King on the rise of personal influence
When you look at the rise of contemporary advertising in the 50s (the Don Draper era) campaigns were built on one thing: a unique selling point (USP) using paid media. The most successful advertising campaign of all time is Anacin. The ubiquity of media at the time meant it was successful because it was like being hit over the head again and again as the adverts were everywhere you went. Vance Packard's book The Hidden Persuaders suggested that advertising could subtly get messages across. The rise of personal influence is fundamentally breaking that model.
A Nielsen study from 2012 asked what influences your purchase decisions? 91% of people said it was recommendations from those they know. 70% peoples opinions published online, 58% editorial content, 58% banded website, 50% emails that are signed up to. Stories are now the #1 influence on consumer choice. Conversations have become media. Dove is an example of a disruptive consumer campaign that put content at the heart of their product by using real people.
The McKinsey Loop stated that paid media drives awareness and consideration that is reinforced by perfectly balanced experience through purchase and use. Today the loop has audiences exiting traditional path to seek content from key influencers. Before, you bought a BMW and then would probably never buy another type of car again. Now, people evaluate ideas, brands and services by finding rewarding content and sharing their experiences with others. Content has become the most important influencer on choice.
Getting your audience to recommend your products is effectively the holy grail, getting them to do something for nothing. Great return on investment. Unilever understand this and have gone from 90% paid advertising to 60% in 15 years an increase in owned and shared content.
King counselled to think about story versus product placement. It's not about facts and figures or the history of your company. Tell a story. Michelin were the first real content marketers. Cars at that stage were unreliable, so people got stranded in places they didn't expected. Their response? Tyres that are reliable and a range of travel guides to help you when you are stranded. They make tyres, but we don't think of them as making tyres.
Christopher Booker's Seven Basic Plots outlines the key stories that exist (although many argue there are 12 basic plots). You can map pretty much everything to one of these. The stages of the Hero's journey are: an ordinary person, called to adventure, refuses the call, meets the mentor, crosses the threshold, tests, allies and enemies, approach, central ordeal, the reward, the road back, resurrection, return with the elixir.
The Guardian signed a big deal earlier in the year for paid for editorial content. A seven figure deal with content that is indistinguishable from journalism. But it is restricted to print. Is it missing the point?
But how do you inject your company into a story? Have a point of view about the world that your key audiences will care about. Tell the truth. Influence the influencers. Produce satisfying stories. Use networks to share emotionally satisfying stories and win a disproportionate share of an audience's attention. An individual has an idea, shares with their personal network (average 192 people) and their communities (average 5 communities). Each person who is networked can influence up to 1000 people.
This is behavioural economics. It is powerful, efficient, low cost and a good long term strategic advantage for low touch points. Publish across multiple touch points to deepen brand engagement. Storytelling positions your brand ecosystem for organic growth.
Jon King is owner and principal consultant at Content Corporation. He spoke at the ALPSP seminar Content Marketing - using your publishing assets?