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Driving Brand Growth: Effective Storytelling through Content

57 min read

We have all been impacted by the power of good storytelling. We have seen those ads that tug at the heartstrings or read a blog post that defines a complicated business challenge perfectly.

But, how do you weave the story of your brand and your audience’s journey into one cohesive content strategy?

Join Allen Martinez, Founder of Noble Digital, for a conversation with Jeff Coyle about how to connect data and storytelling to drive content decisions.

Highlights from the conversation with Jeff Coyle and Allen Martinez.

Show Notes

Early Stage Awareness

Jeff and Allen talk about a quote from Gong that says “competitive deals are won early, when the battle ground is still fertile” and that they’re won with “discover techniques and not closing techniques”

Allen relates how his company rebranded a large $72 million C series startup and found that “marketing wasn’t doing anything for them.” Just 1% of their customers understood what the company does. So the sales team was operating cold, having to explain everything in a sales call. As Allen says, they “have no story. You’re talking about your product like it’s a practical thing and no one knows what it is except you guys internally.”

The Difference Between Brand, Customer, and User Experience

In the webinar, Allen shows a slide that illustrates the difference between brand, customer and user experience, and user interface. Starting at the most granular level, we’re all familiar with user interfaces from using websites and mobile apps.

For an offline user experience, Allen offers a great example of Costco’s discounted roast chicken. It’s a loss-leader that’s intentionally placed at the back of the store. You’ve got to walk all that way to get it “and suddenly you have a shopping cart of, $300 of items that you don’t really need, but you bought right. And that is all by design.” It works because they create a great customer experience. You get free food samples and that relaxes you and puts you in the mood to eat.

Brand experience contains all the other experiences because it really is the culmination of all the other experiences. It’s far deeper than just logos, colors, fonts, and the like.

Brand Foundation and Strategy

On a simple scale, brand strategy is about determining the purpose and beliefs of an organization, what they want to look and feel like. Then that gets turned into visuals, words and actions.

Usually, it’s a lot more complicated than that. Creating the look and feel of the brand, that’s what Allen describes as “the cherry on top.” But before you can do that, there’s so much more that needs to be understood and mapped out including the customer experience, the flow, information architecture, visual design and more. Because, as Allen puts it, “if you have an amazing car but it looks like crap, no one’s gonna buy it.”

Early Funnel Content

Allen offers a great example of early funnel content in the form of a PR activation. It’s a common situation where the content is all brand centric and nothing is customer centric. The company is talking, but they haven’t solved a problem.

Then he shows that same piece of content rewritten in a customer-centric way – the change is staggering. Now we have a story that’s both powerful and emotional and is highly effective in achieving its goal – more sales.

From Campaign Strategy to Campaign Implementation

Before starting a campaign, Allen’s company Noble Digital works to understand a client’s problems and how to best position them. The very last thing is tactics because the way he sees it, “they’re meaningless unless we wrap that in a story.”

There’s a pretty significant educational component involved in getting companies to understand the value of storytelling and the importance of strategy. So they’ve developed a data matrix which breaks it down into 12 elements.

Very few people will make an immediate purchase, so your campaigns need to be designed for those situations where you need to lead a prospect completely through the funnel. As Allen explains, “that’s all gonna be done through story. Cause without that it’s gonna get boring really quick.”

Featured Guest

Allen Martinez

Founder & Chief Strategy Officer, Noble Digital

Allen Martinez has $25 billion dollars of media spend behind his career’s work. He works as a fractional CMO and Chief Strategist at Noble Digital agency, which he founded.

Allen and his team knows how data is done and can translate data into meaningful and compelling stories to supercharge brands in the digital age. He has launched and even exited all types of brands – from funded platform startups like: Fundrise and Telesign, to SharkTanks like: Plated and big brands like New Balance, Mutual of Omaha, Coca-Cola, Subway, Nestle, and AT&T to name only a few.

Allen continues to leverage Noble Digital as a platform to launch, scale and even exit products and brands.

LinkedIn  Twitter


Webinar Slides

Noble Digital

Arron Ross, Predictable Revenue

Robert McKee, Story

Matthew Dicks


Jeff Coyle: Hi everyone. And thank you for joining us for another MarketMuse content strategy webinar in our content strategy webinar series. Today’s, discussion’s gonna be about effective storytelling through content to drive brand growth. And I’ve got one of the most amazing guests and we had a little bit of slight technical difficulties.

So thanks for sticking with us. But joining us today is the founder of noble digital Alan Martinez. Thanks for joining us. Hey there.

Allen Martinez: Let me give you some light on my face. How’s that? Is it

Jeff Coyle: better? oh yeah, looking good. And thanks for battling through some slight technical difficulties little housekeeping before we get started ask us anything as we go as long as it’s not about those technical difficulties.

But you can ask that question too. It’s just, we won’t be the ones answering it. And, but ask us anything about, content strategy as we dive. Holland has amazing expertise about everything that relates to digital media, video storytelling, going from, the most abstract theory storytelling all the way down to pragmatically executing.

So please ask us anything there. The replay of this recording will come in the next couple days. So check your mailbox. And while you’re at it, go check out this link for blog MarketMuse dot com slash webinars. We have nearly 100 archive webinars about every topic you can imagine from, an amazing keyword strategy seminar we did with Nick Ubanks search intent with Kevin indig.

Andy Crestodina talking about analytics and content strategy and Pam diner on sales enable. If it relates to something that yields content strategy in some way, shape or form and traffic for website, we probably have a webinar about it. So go check that out. All right. But now to get started

Allen Martinez: saying there’s no sound.

I wanna make sure can hear me. No,

Jeff Coyle: no, I can hear you just fine. Okay, good.

Allen Martinez: Cause they were recent.

Jeff Coyle: okay. I hope so. I have a question about sound one. Oh. Let’s just make sure that we are broadcasting sound. Do you guys hear now? I can hear you loud and clear. Can everybody hear me? Okay, good.

Can somebody in the chat make sure. Okay. Now everything is okay now. Oh, thanks. Frank. You rock and Jim. All right. Cool. We love elite studio on 24, typically the most beautiful platform today. Not sure what’s going on. We’ll figure it. But talking about really getting into, tell us a little bit about noble digital and tell us a little bit about how you take on kind of brand audience journeys and all the things that you do.


Allen Martinez: Noble has been around for about 10 years and we’ve done all kinds of iterations about what we’re about right over the years. And we’ve, the past few years we really realized that, it’s really about storytelling. That’s what we really focus on. Because if you even look at Facebook now, they took all those metrics away.

And at the end of the day, it’s how compelling is your actual message? It’s of turning back into 1950s television, to be honest, lot of that because of privacy issues and whatnot and for us, it, it doesn’t really matter because story really compares through all that.

It can make all the difference. My background I started off as a TV commercial director. I did that in my early career, and I was fortunate enough to work with big brands that you probably know, the Coca-Colas Nestles of the world and all kinds of. And I took all that knowledge and then brought that into noble digital.

And basically what we’re doing is reverse engineering. What I used to do for these big ad agencies and doing it on a smaller scale for companies that, that want to grow and they tend to be 5 million in revenue and up, and we’ve also worked for fortune five hundreds, like mutual of Omaha, which are now 12 billion brands.

but, even when you get at that scale, you find out when you’re launching a product, they’re no different than a startup, they still have to need the same foundational the foundational stuff that is needed for any brand, really, cuz it’s unknown. It’s unknown. So we’re really good at of understanding that before you become, this repeatable cash cow that you continue to milk we help brands get to that point pretty quickly.

Jeff Coyle: So how how do you think about, Branding and brand response. How do you think about introducing storytelling at each stage of the funnel? So I think that a lot of times when teams are heavily focused on search engine optimization outcomes they’re connecting parts of the funnel to almost like this type of page and this type of query.

How do you take that up a level and introduce storytelling maybe at the top of the funnel would be a good place to start. Sure. To ensure that you’re. Really producing user-centric messaging. There’s appropriate allocation of funds at every stage of the funnel. Yeah. And it doesn’t just become, perceived as fluff effectively.

Allen Martinez: Yeah. Fluff is a word we use a lot. There’s no fluff. Here’s what we like to say. Or we try to avoid fluff as much as possible because that is a problem. To answer your question about top of the funnel, it has to do. With, first of all, gimme your positioning, what’s gonna Pierce through that space against your other competitors.

And also are you competing on something that people even care about? , you don’t wanna be in the dumb zone where you’re competing against another competitor in a, in an area that, that. Customers don’t even care about that’s where, that’s a kiss of death. So it’s really about finding that, that little point and really going all in on that and carving that out and making sure your brand story is really speaking to that.

And even in that, there’s a lot of different variations. If you are a challenger brand, you’re gonna go all in on that. If you’re a disruptive brand you might even have something so far removed from what everybody else is doing. It seems like, it almost seems ridiculous.

Oh, you’re gonna offer, I’m making this up, but a car for free, you don’t have to pay for five years or something that we’ve never seen, like a model we’ve never seen before. Cool. But you go all in and you make sure your messaging, messaging, nails that and really gets that to the end degree.

And that’s really

Jeff Coyle: critical know for somebody who. For somebody who might not be familiar with those points of reference. So disruptor challenger or, is thinking about this from the lens of, I wanna own a concept or own a topic, right? Yeah. So you have the pitch and the angle, right? Like you’re talking about with disruptor challenger.

But what if they, you settled on this? I want to be the place where you go and everything you want to. Pre-funnel or early stage awareness on a topic.

Can you get into, first of all, what a disruptor, what a challenger might mean, maybe some other types of brands, so everybody could self-identify.

And then next, like how do you get into a situation where it’s we wanna own coffee cups , like getting into that type of situation and everybody’s got their own coffee cup, but yeah, the first question, obviously, I think will be relevant to.

Allen Martinez: So well, like one example and I’ll use a small brand, so it can be a lot more universal for every anybody that’s listening.

, for disruptor brand, we actually helped a probiotic biome health and in their situation, they were a disruptive man brand. They actually had something in the formulation that was patented. No one else could touch. We know a good fungus, a good bacteria is, but they were owning good fungus and good bacteria and put those two together and you really have something that’s actually doing, making a difference in your.

Now they didn’t have the budget to be a disruptor or, basically a new product in an existing space. So it made more sense where they were at when you launched them to position them as almost like a benefit over like the others, but really they are their own product. So it also depends on how much money you have to play with as far as how much of a.

Challenger you wanna be, or how disruptive you want to be. So we came in more as a challenger brand. For example, in that situation, we said, oh, these are our probiotics, but we’re unique in this because our formulation does that. And that’s easier for people to understand cuz in order to educate someone from scratch like you’ve never heard of this thing that you need, that, that takes money and time.

And definitely a lot of top of funnel education, campaign awareness kind of campaigns. Hopefully did I answer my question? Hopefully . Oh,

Jeff Coyle: yeah, absolutely. You talked about it actually in a great way, told through that story is that, you, why are you defer differentiated? Why are you disruptive?

What about you is disruptive? How can you weave that into a basic early stage awareness pre-funnel and, I like to describe it as non-branded and going for the journey to, from unbranded to branded almost so to say, how do I weave together these concepts early in the funnel? And have them be differentiated because everybody can go out and write a generic definition for sure.

What is fungus? I don’t really want to read that right now, but everybody, but what makes that, what makes you the thought leader in fungus and what makes you the thought leader in why that matters right now? That’s the stuff that often gets lost. And I think you got into it with positioning.

So in helping aligning messaging with business goals For you, like, how do you go through that process with a brand new brand? What’s that intro look like? Sure. Cause I’m always intrigued by people who have creative have woven together creative processes with story storytelling with funnel.

It’s like going from like fun and exciting and outside over here to. Super boring, matrix math. So like how do you do that? So then no one

Allen Martinez: falls asleep. Let’s talk about that matrix. Interesting. Cuz people will look at a funnel like, okay, that’s what I have to do here. That’s what I have to do there.

And that’s cool. Done like a checkbox and it’s really a checkbox. It’s more it’s a starting point. Really? The funnel’s a starting point when you have your funnel figured out it’s how do we then map a message across all those touch points. And you also have to assume that it takes seven to 10 times for people to see your message for them to.

Embrace what you’re trying to say. So the top funnel really is to grab their attention and it’s really more of a trigger, right? When we’re trying to find that trigger point of whatever that’s gonna be, that’s gonna entice them to go, okay, I’m listen. And if they do click through, it’s rarely for the sale.

Either lot of times there’s some some information or education that needs to happen even in that phase. And hopefully, and they’re intrigued they might sign up for your newsletter, for example. And so now your newsletter’s taking over, but that message has to continue. Spiraling down that funnel and basically at a high level, we’re talking about, emotional kind of like feeling and getting people like intrigued that way.

And as they start to, okay, I’m ready to buy. Then you move into the rational points as to why, your product’s better or the benefits and all that stuff. And, but you have to entertain and intrigue them in the beginning, especially when they don’t really know you or worse their brand loyal to somebody else.

And so we’re

Jeff Coyle: hoping to oh, go. No, I think that’s interesting. So the question would be, how do you bring, creativity in this and more storytelling concepts, because where can technology enable this? Like how do you get somebody in a situation where they’re focused on that?

That the story actually is the funnel. That’s the part, by the way, that’s the punchline, is to say, the story is that funnel.

Allen Martinez: So I have some slides to share. I’ll get more visual. let me just, you

Jeff Coyle: can see my screen. I don’t know how that’s gonna come through. But yeah. So if, but yeah, you can show a few examples.

Maybe they’ll people will be able to see them. Yeah, sure,

Allen Martinez: sure. And really quick, what I’m about to share with you. I’ve written, I wrote an article about it goes even deeper. If you guys are interested, you just scan that with your. Hopefully that works for you. But Google tweeted the article and it covers a lot of what makes branding work, what, how to do, how to take data points and turn that into storytelling, which I think is one of the hardest things to do.

I think people use data as a point as a starting as a way to say, okay, who’s winning or losing. They use it like a kind of a metric for winning or losing, and that’s just a one dimensional way to use data. That’s great. And we do use that ourselves for media to see, click through rates and all that stuff.

But what people. What a lot of companies don’t understand how to do is to take data and get qualitative information from that, and really have that inform what the story should be and why it should be that versus just, know, the old mad men era. Wouldn’t it be cool if that’s great. And sometimes that actually works.

Creativity is powerful in that way, but if you can map on data and have the data inform what the creativity should be, then it’s even more powerful because it’s backed and something tangible. And then and also SCM rush also tweeted one of another piece on branding. So this is something that I’m writing more, more about in speaking on and why brand, emotionally connected customers have a 300, 306% higher lifetime value companies with poor branding end up having to pay 10% higher salaries, which

Jeff Coyle: are not surpris.

That’s a huge, yeah. I love that. It’s for Harvard business. Yeah. Yeah. That’s a great step. Yeah.

Allen Martinez: Yeah. Let’s be honest, like employees wanna work for companies that’s cool and it says something that speaks to them and wants, gets ’em out of bed every day. That’s it’s also internal facing as well.

Brands that now this is really interesting. This talks about the storytelling aspect and the emotional aspects brands that produce purely emotional content performed about two times better than those with only rational content.

And the attention span is reducing since 2000 it’s reduced about four seconds average. So branded content is more memorable and probably more important than ever. And for those out there listing that are a B2B company. And I would say some, B Tobs are. Sometimes they feel like brand is not as critical for them.

Cuz maybe they have a practical product, but I have to say in a world of noise what you say earlier in the sales cycle is far more influential than what you say in late in the sales cycle. So if you wanna empire sales team, branding’s actually gonna help open the door and take a lot of that friction away so that sales can just focus on closing versus having to explain why you guys are amazing.

And they’re just hopefully just signing up porters.

Jeff Coyle: So I think that really, I think that really connects to a lot of the things and I’m really interested in this other gong quote, but I think that connects to what we were just talking about that early stage awareness content being so critical in establishing value.

They, the frequent frequently, I know I’ve taken this and run with it with a lot of content that I’ve created, where you have to have a goal for each. is the goal delivering value? Is it illustrating or exhibiting knowledge? Is it describing your, your proposed process for them educating themselves or going down the journey or is it to certify trust or to establish trust?

And I think that I love that gong quote, where it says, the earlier in the earlier that brand is positioned the earlier that trust gets establi. And I think that’s, that’s such an influential thing in storytelling components, and I know we’re gonna get into some storytelling theory in a minute.

But I love this example

Allen Martinez: really quick. I just wanna say that this is so easy for the C-suite to dismiss . I can see we need to focus on sales. I’ve heard somewhere. I think that. One of the C-suite from HubSpot told me directly that we, they, most companies spend about eight times more on sales than in marketing.

And I do think if they allocate a little bit more towards the marketing, it would actually help speed up the sales cycle, which we’ve actually done. We’ve rebranded a very big company, like a 72 million startup funded, C series. Where they were struggling. And what was happening is I came into that session with my team and I asked one pointed question on purpose with everybody in the room.

I said, please bring sales in. And marketing was like, I guess we don’t need them here. I said, please bring, they brought. em And I asked them one question in front of everybody on purpose. I said, how, because this is a, we’re talking about a C a CPASS It’s a communication platform is a service. One of their competitors would be like Twilio, right?

So they’re pretty big. And they’re making. They’re amazing clients. And so the point is I asked the salesperson, how many of your customers understand what you guys do? And I was expecting to say 50, 30, 20, he said 1%. . And so what that means is marketing wasn’t doing anything for them.

And sales was getting these ice cold calls and had to explain everything in a phone call or web call, whatever it was. And that’s huge problem. And so their sales cycle was like over a year long and it was so obvious to us. Like you have no story, you’re just, you’re talking about your product.

Like it’s like a practical thing and no one knows what it is except you guys internally, and that’s a sin, right?

Jeff Coyle: so nothing worse than slinging software. Because you’re just not gonna there’s no there, there’s no story. There’s no pain. There’s no tragedy. There’s no excitement.

But yeah. What are the other, the

Allen Martinez: thing is that’s the thing. I would not expect them to figure this out on their own internally. It’s a completely different skill. Even the best marketers. That’s not what you’re really hired to do a market marketing. Manager’s there to manage what’s been built.

Yep. And so what we’re offering doing is we’re often, build rebuilding or redesigning. You know how this all flows and it’s from a to Z, whether it’s a visual thing, whether it’s messaging whether it’s engineering most of the time, it’s all three combined. And that really does make all the difference.

And a lot of times they don’t really know all the details of what we did. They just know it’s working now, they’re happy. that’s more important than anything that, you know, for this example, they, their sales cycle Dorton dramatically. And they were getting like two or three times more sales.

And in their case that. Like tens of millions, more dollars per year. For a fraction and they paid us a fraction of that, like already, they were ROI positive immediately. So it just really depends on what you’re trying to solve, but we know the power of this. I think we’re already beyond the fact that, yeah, everyone knows what funnel is, you need it.

And even that is changing. People are talking about fly wheels now and all that kind. But at the end of the day, whatever you wanna call it, it’s that flow. It’s, for us, it’s being able to engineer something and then when something breaks down, we know it’s, oh, it’s right here in the middle or the very top or whatever.

Now we can isolate what we’re doing and what we need to fix and what we need to optimize. So that every thing is accountable in your brand is accountable at every touchpoint, all the way through the sales and to the handoff for sales. so whether we’re doing B2B or a consumer product like biome, which I mentioned earlier, it doesn’t really matter.

We we don’t work in any one vertical. And the reason for that is because we work in a horizontal and the horizontal is storytelling, we really believe that the inception point is key and that’s where people are more curious and more open. And when we get that we, we ignite there’s an already existing funnel is not perform.

We’ll put that top funnel layer element on and ignite the rest of the funnel that hasn’t been work, doing anything for years, they’re seeing this shift. So

that’s why you’ll see all these different kinds of brands that we work with that are all over the map, as far as what the industry is.

And it’s really irrelevant what the industry is. It’s really about. What’s your positioning, what’s your story? What are you trying to do? What’s your actual goal? How fast and big do you need to grow? With example plated, we helped them. They had built a beautiful. And they had no sales, and they had 16 marketers on their team at the time. And we came in and created that top funnel element for acquisition. And suddenly they went to a hundred million dollars in revenue in about 18 months. I would love to take all the credit, but they had a beautiful brand. They had a great product, but the we filled in that spot where that was missing, which is like your top.

Funnel’s not there, so it just really depends what you’re trying to achieve.

And just to give context for those out there that are watching, that don’t know anything about noble. This is where we like to work. We like this window. This is where we, this is from Aaron Ross’s particular revenue, which I love.

It’s make it Mrs. Make it repeatable if you’re helping the CMO or the CEO in this case, a lot of times like make it repeatable so I can go tell my founders and the, my investors and get more money so I can go to the next level. We know that go and miss big, take you from 40 to a hundred and beyond Mr.

Dashboards. So Mr. Dashboards, I call mr. Dashboards. Or Aaron does because it’s where the guys really at such a high level, he’s just looking at KPI dots. And maybe hardly involved in the storytelling because they’ve already figured this out before, usually in this first step right here, this is some evangelists inside the company law, often the CEO, sometimes the CMO or, whatever it’s gonna be.

And they’re evangelists for the company and they help them the 10 million for. When you’re up here, like you’ve already figured all that out and you’re somewhat repeatable. So when we help a fortune 500, obviously they’re way beyond this graph, they’re in the billions of dollars.

But we’ll help them. We’ll help a small business unit with launching a new product. And again, like they are, they just, like I said earlier they need just as much help as a startup. It’s no different than a startup. Cause they’re trying to figure out how do we make this? Have some traction.

Jeff Coyle: Yeah, I think everybody can identify with being in one of these phases. And by the way Alan, you can send that you can send this deck to our team and we’ll distribute it. You’re alright with that. Is that I know there was a QR code with the QR code. Isn’t working for everybody. Is that alright?

Oh, sure. Absolutely. Okay, great. So everybody in the chat or asked questions I think has been a handful. We’ll get you. All these slides and the details here. And I think that, I think it really tells the, the stories where you are and when, this becomes really important. I think it becomes it’s important no matter where you are, but when it gets really big, the high, the higher ups maybe saying, Hey, we already have a story we’ve already gotten here.

We’ve already did. It’s more of an expansion where they’re coming up with more campaigns. Is that your perspective? Yeah.

Allen Martinez: It’s more of a campaign. Yeah. So Mr. Dashboards might be like, okay, we need, we need to start exploring new audiences that we’re not, that don’t know about us.

And then suddenly that might be a new campaign. It might be a new approach that they haven’t done before, because we’re talking as people that are not evangelized. . And. As long as they’re doing a good job with retention, that’s not going anywhere and we’re just adding on to that and increasing their numbers.

I was,

Jeff Coyle: yeah, I was gonna say, so a nuance there is is that if you’re in the earlier phase, your channel and distribution and persona decisions are some of them are gonna be made for you based on your existing audience. Some of them you’re making that decision as you’re first entre into market.

And then the larger you are, it’s maybe it’s a campaign to get to that persona. But like maybe in that earlier stage, how can you make someone think of this as more of a, of an appropriate story to try to drive back to the core of what we were talking about? Yeah.

Allen Martinez: I think the key here in the beginning is that you really have to listen to your audience.

And, you want a message, not, that’s not too broad, but broad enough to attract people cuz maybe you don’t know what it is. So if you think it’s about, oh, this is why people wanna buy it. Like you’ve heard of those apps where, people were like, this is what it’s for. And suddenly it’s one thing.

And then suddenly like college kids are using it as a beer game or something that they had not expected and they have to pivot and all that. And the first thing you have to pivot is you’re messaging and how you wanna take that stance. For us, it’s in the beginning it’s as pretty many feelers out trying to activate as many channels as possible, and then tracking all that and seeing where the flow is like with Biome, we did all this paid stuff, which was really helpful and important to get that going.

But it was actually some of the organic, like we, when we had built the brand Gwyneth Paltrow had got very excited and decided to feature them in Goop, and that really helped their sales explode. Cause it was exactly the audience we wanted to go after. And and of course we needed her to

get behind us as well. We couldn’t force her to do that, but we had done the work. We had built the brand, we had built something where she felt like they looked professional and the message was on, on point. And it was like right for her audience. But that doesn’t happen because we pick up the phone and beg her to do it.

We, that happened because we built the brand, we did everything right. And we built it and looked professional. We had the messaging sharp as a, as. And then she saw it in probably in a few seconds or minutes, shared it with her team and said, wow, okay. Let’s these guys look pretty cool, right? That decision is pretty quick when you do everything right.

And you take away any hesitation whatsoever because you’ve actually filled in all those areas that all those gaps of what your message should be.

Jeff Coyle: So break that down. And I don’t know if you wanna slide back to images or if you have any other slides you’d like to. Sure. I’ll go forward.

Allen Martinez: We’ll go forward. Let’s talk a little bit about what we’re talking about. Okay.

So you see your brand experience, and these are terms I always like to define this because people see these terms and they get ’em all mixed up and they think they’re the same thing, or they don’t know how they work. So I wanna break this down.

I’m gonna go backwards. Okay. I’m gonna user inter user interface that is, and this can be online or offline. Let’s start with offline just to be really clear offline user. interface Costco puts the really discounted roasted chicken all the way back at the end of the store on purpose to force you to walk all the way to the store, get it, and then walk all the way back through.

And suddenly you have a shopping cart of, $300 of items that you don’t really need, but you bought right. And that is all by design, right? That chicken is a lost leader. They don’t make money off that, but they make money knowing that a certain percent of people are gonna walk out with more than just the.

chicken and they’re accounting on that. Online user interface is the website. It’s the mobile app. It’s the experience like, I’m checking out, did it get stuck? Did it take forever? Did it take the coupon code? Did it reset? Did it lose my order, whatever user that’s user now we’re blending into user experience.

Am I getting frustrated by this experience? Or in the case of Costco? It’s delightful, right? You go back, you get the chicken, they give you free food, little samples, and that’s user experience. Like you’re enjoying the experience and it of puts it relaxes. You puts in a mood of I’m getting hungry.

I should shop for some, I should get a couple things for food. You start to break down a little bit. That’s all by design, that doesn’t just happen by mistake. You have to, plan those things out. So the next one is customer experience, and this also can fall into employee culture as well, which is, How is, how was your whole experience like when the dress came that you ordered, did it fit you or not?

Did they give you the wrong size? Is this, was it a beautiful opening with the box or was it all crumpled? And the dress is wrinkled and and so all those things together is the brand experience. A year later, when you think about that brand and that experience, was it a pleasant one?

Was it a terrible one? Would you ever do business with them again? Or do you, are they beloved? Do you just wow, I love everything they do the way they they almost read your mind. They know exactly what you wanna see or hear, and that’s really important. And so that these are the kind of factors that we’re thinking about, but we’re really, a lot of people will start here.

They’ll think of branding as logos, colors and all that. And really, that’s the cherry on top, as far as I’m concerned it’s a little different than that it’s, it should be deeper than that. And Taking this little further, the next slide,

we’re really talking about, what, know, the brand foundation you might not, this is like the strategy work.

This is the intake work that’s done with the client, what’s their purpose or beliefs or style. What do they wanna look and feel like? And then that turns into the visuals, words and actions that we want to build on a very simple scale. Now on a more complex scale, like this is how we would look at internally.

Like we’re looking at the strategy, right? This is the brand experience flow. That, that entails customer experience that also leads into information architecture. We really don’t know what to build until we understand these things first. Who are we speaking about? And then at the back here, you’ll see visual identity.

Like we’re starting to create here’s the look, here’s the feel of the brand. And again, that’s that cherry on top and that’s important. I Again, if you have an amazing car, but it looks like crap. No one’s gonna buy it. And if you have a beautiful, well designed. car that’s not even that great under the hood, like chances are that car’s gonna get more purchases than the the ugly, designed one, right?

It’s just the way it is. And so before you move into development production, before you get into the actual creation of these things, we have to map all this out and understand what we’re trying to build. What is that experience? Like I mentioned in Costco, what’s the app experience.

How do you want people to feel? I got into crypto I’m not a big crypto guy at all, but I was just playing with a little bit of money, everything had dropped and let’s see what happens, but I was on the Robin hood app and the app is so gamified. It’s so slick. It’s so smooth, and it’s funny to see that.

And then I’m working with a currently with like kind of a bank right now and their apps are. not Cool at all. They almost look a little bit antiquated and they think that they’re at cutting edge, but they’re not like Robinhood is really where it’s at. The millennials are having fun.

You use the app and I can see how it gets you to spend money without even thinking, which is probably what they want. But that is part of that’s all part of the strategy. That’s all part of this design, flow that we’re talking.

Jeff Coyle: I think that I love that you, the way you described it.

Cause I think somebody taking away from this can see that intake, try that intake pyramid, and how that can map into a more comprehensive brand strategy. And everyone should be going through this process as part of their identity work. There’s an, if you have never done an identity a cycle or a workshop, these are types of things that you would get into.

To be able to connect the dots between what you’re, who you are, what you are, because where I think a lot of teams struggle from a content perspective or an agency, especially agency perspective, is they’re very worried about what their products do. And they’re not worried about the story of someone using them and having success and the pain that they had that made them make want to make that purchase, or the differentiation that yielded that purchase or something on that order.

And what the story. For that person who had gone through that, buying that, unbranded need to awareness consideration purchase. And then what’s the story after they’ve purchased it, that post purchase experience, whether it’s being part of a community, whether it’s troubleshooting, whether it is them becoming a champion of your product and telling their own story, so how do you get somebody to, go from. Hey gosh I’m a, we’re a 10 person company. How do I execute building this funnel from the bottom up effectively?

Allen Martinez: Yep. Let’s talk about that so that great. It’s you’re read in my mind Jeff leads right into what I, so we talk about Robert McKee, right?

Jeff Coyle: We have not talked about Robert McKee on this discussion. So let you, you give us your breakdown of Robert McKee. And I’m happy

Allen Martinez: If Robert’s watching for educational purposes I actually took his workshop. He’s pretty intense. . And so let’s talk about this. This feels like this, the thing about branding, especially for corporations, let’s be honest.

CEOs are really metrically focused, right? They look at the numbers and a lot of times the business plan is okay, I want, you to help me go from here to here. And it’s like a 45 degree angle going up. And I’ve seen that a million billion times. There’s nothing unique about that. It’s the question is how are we gonna do that?

So in here’s an example of McKee’s story, whether you’re doing a movie where, whether you’re doing a brand, like this is a deep way to look at your brand and what are you trying to say? Love thyself is a value. Like you like self love it’s a value. Now, if we talk about contradictory self hate is the exact opposite of love myself.

Now contrary is not the exact opposite contrary. It’s like somewhere in between contradictory and somewhere in the value. That’s why it’s at the three o’clock here treat self lesser then, right? So you don’t, you might not, it is not as extreme as self hate, but you like maybe use you depreciate your, use humor to depreciate what you are or your achievements.

You play it down or. Instead of owning them, for example, instead of just loving yourself saying, yeah, I did that. And that was a great thing I did. For example, now on the far left here at the nine o’clock is the negation of the negation and that’s complete self sabotage where you just are it’s beyond self hate.

Like you are hurting yourself in what you say, what you do every day, every everything comes in your mouth. These are the extremes of the human experience. And that’s just for one value. We could put different values in here and play with this in different filters, I’m just taking one concept.

So that one concept was part of a campaign for dove. And this is and you’re asking about a small brand and I’m gonna show you a multi-million dollar brand. And before you go, wait a second, we’re not a multimillion dollar brand. I wanna make it crystal clear, everything I’m showing you can be done by the smallest brands.

They just don’t. They just don’t right. So what happened in this campaign is that there’s a sketch artist here, a police sketch artist, and they asked this woman sitting behind the curtain to describe herself. And then when they were done, he and the one on the left is like the woman like describing herself.

And you can see compared to the one on the right is not as attractive. What happens? They brought all the women, they said, describe yourself. And they asked someone, describe the last person that was here before that you got to meet for a couple minutes. And they described her much more beautifully.

So it’s like, why did you make this stranger look beautiful? Like you described her, but you, when you described yourself, you didn’t do yourself justice. Do you understand? . And so now we’re getting to the heart of the manner where, I this is about a bar of soap people, but what we’re saying here is that it doves, elevating that message to be about beauty, about loving yourself, like the beauty of yourself and.

They, instead of having the superficial thing just saying, oh, this is good for yourself. And it would go in and out. They really underlined it with this campaign. And it was very successful and it was very emotional. . And it, it became undeniable and by the way, the production on this is nothing like smallest brand could do this too.

You get some people in a room with a sketch artist. I don’t think it costs that much money in a camera. Like it’s not that expensive. They’re using natural light. There’s no, cars going off a cliff and explosions. It’s very. So it’s not even that, that it’s a big brand. It’s like a small brand could have done this too.

For example, now here’s another Unilever ad, right? For a completely different product. The cleaner you are the dirtier you get. Now who are they speaking to? They’re not speaking to the Dove mom. This is like the sun of the Dove man. And he’s you know, hoping to find a love. But this is also Unilever brand and you can see that the positioning on these two products are so different.

Like just to make it more clear. It’s could you imagine the mom, the Dove mom buying this product? Probably not maybe for son, but not for herself. And likewise with this son be using Dove on himself. Probably not. So the idea here is

if you actually pull back and look at what we’re selling, it’s, it’s chemicals, right?

It’s not. So we’re making brand associations around a product that is basically made of chemicals and that’s powerful. So I, what I’m saying here is that if dub can do this, you can do it too. It’s not about a big brand thing. It’s more about like, how deep do you really want take things, and how do you want to position yourself to your audience? Cuz again, you could have, this could have been completely different. They’re going right into the visceral emotional. Of who this product is for. And what you’re hoping the outcome is besides just being clean. And so

all this is coming from, structure, we’re we’re and so we’re talking about the customer journey.

People never realize that it’s the same as like telling like a movie structure there’s the beginning is a middle and end. The beginning is your top of funnel. It’s not the end. The middle is okay, you saw that message. That brand message. Here’s a little bit more information about us.

And then at the end, it. Here’s why we’re awesome. Here’s why you should buy our product. Right? And some people only need to hear that first message and they’re in, but you’re gonna get more acquisition, more customers as you, as they complete this. Cuz again, it takes several touch points for the average customer before they, take action.

And these structures can be simple like this. This is, I don’t wanna say simple, but it’s classical. This is, this was designed by Aristotle 2000 years ago. Not by Hollywood. Okay. It was Greek. And it was refined over the years, but that’s basically, we’ve been using and it’s powerful because humans haven’t changed that much in thousands of years, as far as our human nature.

That’s why Shakespeare plays are still powerful. So we look at pulp fiction, which is a very complex story, and there’s some people call it a five act. There’s a lot going on. You can see that it doesn’t matter how you slice it up, still falling within a three X S. And so if I take this further, like we look at something like breaking bad, which is a very popular show, in, in film, in story, in pure storytelling, right?

Where you’re not trying to sell a product where you’re basically selling emotions, in breaking bad, this is called a beat. And this is just like one moment where something’s happening, where there’s a shift, there’s a change in the scene, right? That’s like the smallest unit in film. And as you back out, you have different scenes.

Over time. And that scene needs to accomplish something like maybe it’s trust is broken or trust is built, for example, and then you pull back even farther. And now you have your acts. You have a bunch of these scenes all strung together, but they have to have a theme that kind of unites them.

Otherwise that’s when you see a bad movie, like it was there’s some cool shots. There’s some great acting, but it didn’t carry the. And the reason for that is because it wasn’t cohesive. And a lot of content marketing is like this. It’s it’s just broken pieces of I know I need that.

I know I need that, but they’re not putting it together into one powerful theme that could bring everybody together and help them. See, I see why it’s this way, why it has to be that way. So that’s. Like the way I see, storytelling, like from a master storyteller and that’s really what you want from your brand.

And you want that level of sophistication and layering because if a brand’s gonna last for years, like you, you need to have this kind of depth, like what’s gonna make breaking bad was on for eight years or something like that. What’s gonna keep you coming back for eight seasons in a row, obviously.

It’s that a great story, so in film, it’s acts sequences units. Beats and marketing goals, initiative campaigns, assets. They have their own, like their own their own specific goals and objectives. But it’s very similar. I don’t know if you see it that way too, but for us, it’s that’s how it looks to us.

I’m curious what you think . Yeah.

Jeff Coyle: I A lot of the things you’ve said really resonate and I appreciate there’s a couple of questions which we’ll get to towards the end too, it’s the, a lot of team, a lot of marketing teams don’t think about storytelling. A lot of the stories as they’re presented are actually more like anecdotes, right?

It’s a series of things that happen. But nothing, there, there isn’t a outcome. That yields what would make a story and the difference being there is appreciable noticeable change by, the protagonist or the, a character going through this meaningful thing. And so for you, as know, a marketer, I think the way that you described it, I, I love the example.

With breaking bad. I love the pulp fiction example. And I’d love to see your version of a few with the three act of a few of more complex movies there. But I love that example is to say what happens to in that story. What’s the hook in that first, what’s the first five minute, five second experience that really grabs you.

When does that. In that experience, you showed that great Unilever ad, a lot of content marketers are stuck saying metho IZO Zaid is a great cleaning agent, right? That, that is a lot of what we see in content marketing that, that benefit statement. And I think I ripped that off of the ingredients really quick, but think about how much of a departure there is from what you saw and that benefit.

And a lot of times people are gonna more identify what they have on their websites with the latter. The story is just the medium. I reflect on this. I love by the way. Some people might not have noticed on one of the things that says McKee’s story. The name of his foundational book is called story for anyone that’s not familiar.

So go check that out. it read like McKee’s story, but it was actually McKee’s book called story. But I always, I reflect on that by examine your most, favorite films or stories and try to actually say what actually is the story. A lot of times you’re it’s wrong, right? And so I would get into that and, McKee’s a great person to study on that.

Matthew dicks, who’s an idol of mine. A number of examples where, you’re, I think one of his F one of the best examples he uses that in a Jurassic park has nothing to do with dinosaurs. And you can go research that one on your own, but yeah, go get into, the what’s the meat of the story.

Why is it here? What was the change? What’s the change you’re looking. Influence. And I love that, it ends up being the medium is all that really changes from the basic stories. So yeah, I would get into it. Your marketing goals, initiatives, campaign assets, CTAs, conversion. How does that get into, how we approach particular intents?

That would be my next question for you.

Allen Martinez: So it’s funny, like this is stuff I talk about when I’m talking to the company, they get this. If I talk about this, I lose them. They don’t understand. We have to do this internally with, or without them. And sometimes it’s without them. We have to do this, but we present it in a way where they, when they see it, they understand how it relates to all this.

Because again, this is like looking again, this is the funnel, this is just the, this is the house plan for the bathroom and where the water flows and electrical outlets, all the boring stuff that needs to happen. But it’s but is the house beautiful? Do you wanna, does it do.

Put it in the right position. So you have a beautiful sunset with the giant windows. I’ve been to places in America where they have mountain views and then all the houses are facing the wrong way. Why? Because it wasn’t an architect behind it. It was a construction company.

And they did this very correctly. Everything’s fine. And yet there’s literally like a wall where the view is, and there’s no windows, even there, they put a bathroom with no windows. So there’s no view of the most important thing. There’s. Nobody stopping to think about that. And that’s critical.

And so these we’re just trying to get again that positioning literally PO like the position in a house is okay, what do you want? You wanna wake up to the sun? I think it was king Louis in France or whatever like that. Versaille he had the, he wanted to wake up with the sun.

So the house was designed that way window would come. Like these have to be decided before anything’s designed. And why do you want the, why want it that way? I also say that sometimes. Will be, I’ll use the word selfish. I think that’s a little strong word, but you get test, huh? You get test. I’m not saying I’m not saying that.

Honestly. I don’t think they’re aware. They think of here’s one thing we didn’t talk about branding. They always think like it’s about our brand, but in the truth of the matter is if you want your brand to be successful, it has to be user centric. It has to be around what the user cares about, not what you care.

And again, that, that’s why you see this image here on the acts body spray. This might even offend the dove mom, right? She saw it like, oh, gross or whatever. It’s not for her. Sure. She doesn’t care. They don’t care for it’s for him. And that.

Jeff Coyle: That’s persona, but that’s persona and that’s change.

So can you get into kind of, so I’m leading the witness here, a lot of people struggle with the early funnel in content. How do you think about I sometimes reference that as initial phase or act one, like what, what needs to be covered there? What are the things you need to have an effective act?

one Or initial phase, basically. Cuz then it’s initial change.

Allen Martinez: That’s two slides away. Let me warm it up with this first. And

Jeff Coyle: it’s so funny. I did not, I don’t know any of this folks. I’m literally just it’s like I know the stories, but I don’t, I’ve never seen these

Allen Martinez: yet. The key, if you look at the Snickers ad, I use this cause everyone knows these commercials look great.

They’re. But there’s some death to this. The key insight would be something like bad. People make bad decisions when they’re hangry. And then what you see here, this wheel is like a emotional wheel. And what we want to have in all our storytelling, every touchpoint, whether it’s a commercial or even just a blog.

You want there to be a before and after state. Okay. . And so the before after state for the stickers is aggressiveness, right? The guys they’re angry they’re mean they’re Ory and the, they get the sticker bar and then they’re, they calm down and they’re like, a calm calf or whatever, holy calf. So that’s what we’re talking about that arc. Like you can, you could literally move this to anywhere for different story. If you change this, where it ends up and starts. Completely different execution. And that’s even before we under know what the story’s about. We’re just trying to understand where we going to and from at each touchpoint.

And of course this changes throughout a funnel at the beginning of the funnel, you might want your most dramatic swing going from here to, here’s a very dramatic, and once they’re here, the next touchpoint can be more about acceptance and trust, and trust this candy bar and it’s not nothing deep.

I’m showing stuff. That’s very like trivial. These are not. Deep purchase decisions, but they even that has a very deep message, which is they know exactly what they’re trying to do. And that’s so critical. And any B2B SAS platform could learn a lot from this slide because it’s really critical and important to understand that and get into the emotions.

And I, I would find that a lot of times that industry is not emotional. That’s the problem. And so you have to find that emotional candy, bar’s not emotional at all. They just, they found their way in, right? No apology. Yeah. let’s move away from the theory. Let’s get to actual execution. And what does that look like?

Okay. So if we’re talking about a PR activation, I’m just gonna read this. This is the before American express launches, latest direct mail campaign to cardholders brand reminds consumers of purchase benefits by shopping with its merchant partners. And I have a yawn there because that’s a lot of times like, that’s like the brief we’ll get, and that’s the starting point.

A lot of times they think that’s done, but it’s it’s the starting point. Like great. It’s. If you look at this now that we’ve gone through all this, you can see that’s really brand centric and not customer centric. So lemme show you the customer centric version. This is the after American express creates small business, Saturday brand champions, local merchants who consumers overlook when shopping at big box stores on black Friday and cyber Monday.

So now we have a story. Now we have David and Goliath big versus small. We have we’re rooting for these guys. We actually wanna help them now cause we oh, wanna help small businesses. And not just blow like people that are gonna care about this are gonna really feel that. Where if you look back at this one again the original one, you don’t see any of that.

There it’s not, they’re talking, they haven’t solved the problem. The real problem is trying to get. to that Point where people can take action and make this very actionable. And so this is, the before is where people will typically do a press release and it’ll start there and end there.

And that’s it. And this is we can’t even get to this level at noble, unless you let us do our work a lot of times yeah, we have a PR campaign. And how about we need to do some brand strategies? Oh no, no brand strategy. Let’s just jump into PR. And they don’t understand that they’re throwing away.

The most important part is this is what you’re paying for. And it looks like nothing. It’s just two sentences. Like I paid how much for that. And then they see the sales come in. They go, oh, I see. I go. But they don’t always see that. Especially smaller brands. Can’t always see that. So that’s,

Jeff Coyle: You’re illustrating it.

And I, we’re gonna wrap in one minute. But that’s a great example of highlighting things that would bring people in to various stages of the. That you, the value you’re bringing, isn’t just about, the fact that there is a 2% discount, if you use the, it’s not enough anymore,

Allen Martinez: That’s temporary.

This will last forever, these kind of stories. And then they’re powerful and they’re emotional people will get emotional behind these stories. And that’s so you gotta have it.

So I’ll just end with, I’ll end with this last slide then, which. This is for an AR VR presentation I gave for content tech summit and you’ll see passive and active.

And if I go backwards, submission experiences of pastime, I’ll say these bottom three are really movies like this is, you’re watching your movie as a pastime. It can be more narrative and you experience it as a drama, more thriller fantasy, avatar experiences make. This can, this is game theory, basically apply to AR and other things.

But as you move up, as you get to the very top, like the sensation experience sense, pleasure. That’s point of view shooter, game, and you’re just like nonstop adrenaline. There’s almost no story there. You’re just trying to get from this point to that point without being eaten by zombies, for example, and I’m not saying that this top one is better than the bottom one. Not at all because sometimes you’re so your senses are so overloaded that you’re not feeling anything you’re just trying to survive. And so you’re active and that’s cool, where’s the right storytelling for you, is it as a, social framework, a fellowship, you could almost say that Facebook as a brand really is, this is, that’s what they’re about.

And you need to take a look at your brand also is how do you wanna express yourself? Cause the way you express yourself is also gonna change the execution and also the perception of your. So this goes very deep, as you can see, and we’re only can only go so deep on time, but I’ll just kinda end with

before we do a campaign idea, we really are trying to understand what our client’s business problems are and then we wanna position them.

And then we launch the campaign and we wanna also deal with common barriers, like their sales objections and the brand loyalty they have to do. And then the last thing is tactic. So we’re not gonna come and say, yeah, we do SEO and we can help you. Or we make videos like we do all those things. but They’re meaningless unless we wrap that in a story.

So we’re always trying to help our clients understand, like we need some storytelling and some strategy involved before we turn tactics on. It’s too easy to turn the tactics on. We really need to have something behind it. And for us, we have, our own like data matrix and you, again, you can scan that QR code.

Hopefully you guys can see that, but we have something called the data matrix, which kind of breaks down these 12 elements. Like the market situation trend. analysis Your consumer personas and also like their decision journey. What does each touchpoint have to do to get them to go to the next step?

And of course you wanna design for the worst case scenario, not the best. I Some people come to your website and buy in two seconds. Great. That’s 1% of the people out there. You need to design for the toughest customer so that they all have a chance to really go through what you’re about and really absorb what you’re about.

And that’s all gonna be done through story. Cause without that it’s gonna get boring really quick.

Jeff Coyle: no, that’s a great, that’s a great way to wrap it up and, without the storytelling, it’s gonna be boring really quick. And really I love the examples. Go check out. McKee’s work. We’ll get you this PowerPoint.

We also have a free audit go book, a demo with book demo on MarketMuse and go check out. Alan’s work at Alan Martinez. On LinkedIn and all their social channels and really looking for noble digital one noble dash digital on LinkedIn. Thanks again, Alan. It’s been a real pleasure and look forward to connecting with you soon or at the next show.

All right.

Allen Martinez: Thanks buddy. Good having you. All right. Thanks for having me. We’ll talk soon.

Jeff Coyle: All right. See you soon.


Stephen leads the content strategy blog for MarketMuse, an AI-powered Content Intelligence and Strategy Platform. You can connect with him on social or his personal blog.