Content marketing: Telling Meaningful Stories

How come nobody is sharing my POSITIVE brand story?

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Influencer marketing and outreach. Brand ambassador programs. Social media amplification. You name today’s buzz phrase to help us (the brands)  get our stories shared. 

All these tactics actually work. Seriously. But, they can and will backfire when the product stinks. 

Marketing – whether content, product or traditional – isn’t usually in charge of product development or customer service but is in charge of those programs above. And marketing crap is still marketing crap. Marketing a product that is actually useful and good is Step 1 in all of these still fairly new programs. 

Sometimes I talk with clients about ways to amplify their product and customer service stories. And many times I get this: 

“But what if it’s a negative experience … and they share that publicly?”

OMG. A negative experience. Sounds like life, which is made up of positives and negatives. Intermixing them actually makes us look  dare I say human and more relateable.

When negative stories are shared:

  • Acknowledge them
  • Show understanding (aka empathy)
  • Address and fix (as applicable)

But, I get it. We want people to share our positive stories. Here’s the answer to how to do that: 

Create positive experiences for them in the field. Yes, that front desk hotel clerk is a member of your brand reputation team. And you don’t even know their name and they don’t report to you. Sounds complicated, because it is but it really isn’t at the same time. 

How do you scale good customer service?

Everyone offer great customer service now. Go!

Of course, leadership shouldn’t create rules to make this harder than it is and if the product is bad fix the product first. Good customer service likely can’t safe a crappy product. 

How do you scale creating a good product? Create a good product to begin with.

And when people share a negative OR positive story about your brand online, respond. It’s like offline. If somebody comes up to me and says “nice tie” I say “thanks.” Same concept should apply online. Some exemptions might be huge brands – so not most of us – who get mentioned numerous times per minute. 

Let me give you an example of a positive brand story that moved from offline to online.

In early October I was in Toronto for a day to talk content marketing and storytelling and stayed in the fancy Delta Hotel, a Marriott property, in downtown. 

They were nice and said “Thanks for being a Silver Elite Member (which means I stay with Marriotts often). I was able to get you a conplimwntary upgrade to our luxury suite.”

Cool. Thanks. Camera (aka phone) ready to instagram some photos. 

Delta hotel Toronto luxury suite

That suite, which overlooked the convention center and the Blue Jays baseball stadium, was nicer and bigger than my college apartment. How delightful. 

I did call later and ask how much it would have cost and they said around US$700 and that I got it because they had run out of regular rooms. Of course I only knew that now because I was nosy. Once a reporter always a reporter.

Does that mean we always have to give customers something for free? No, but your product has to rock, the experience has to at least live up to expectations and sometimes exceed them. 

Brand reputation is a team sport and crosses all departments. Act like a team, offer things that matter and work together. 

No way to get there alone. 


Christoph blogs on The Authentic Storytelling Project and is a globally recognized content marketing expert. The IMA named him Internet Marketer of the Year in 2015. He works with healthcare organizations and other brands around the globe.

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