Maximizing Your ROI Through Authentic Storytelling

August 18th, 2022 | Darren McAlmont, Manager, Communications & Content, Association of Canadian Advertisers

picture of yellow typewriterThe foundation of great marketing is storytelling. Brands tell stories to sell products, but with so many different stories being told by competing brands about the same product, telling authentic stories matter, now more than ever. Consumers are inundated daily with ads, but only few have lasting impressions. This is because consumers are now more interested in buying experiences over products. Consumers are also more inclined these days to question the authenticity of a story before spending their precious dollars on a product.

So, how can brands tell authentic stories? Well, it all starts with figuring out who your audience is. As cliché as it sounds for every marketer, facts are facts. After deciding on your target audience, your team will most likely realize that it is made up of diverse groups of people – i.e. people of various ethnic, cultural, social, and economic backgrounds. This is why telling authentic stories matter, but keep in mind that it can also be difficult, especially if your company is accustomed to doing things one way, so here’s how to shake that up.

Diversify Your Team

Nothing’s worse than a tone deaf or insensitive ad – nothing. Therefore, diversifying your marketing team (or the team that’s responsible for developing a campaign for a specific product) is only in your company’s best interest. You can’t effectively sell or authentically connect products to an audience segment if your marketing team doesn’t understand how that audience segment thinks, feels, or behaves. The more diverse your team is, the better your chances are of connecting to a wider cross section of your target audience.

Don’t Think About the Money

It is almost oxymoronic that I suggest to you not to think about the money when part of a marketer’s job is to maximize the ROI on a given product, but if you encounter a dilemma where it’s either you tell an authentic story or break the team’s budget, just don’t think about the money (as much as it is in your power to do so, of course). Not only is selling an authentic story the ethical thing to do, doing the contrary does more harm than good. The harm is likely to cost your company more money in repairs than it would in investing more at the beginning to tell an authentic story.

Leave the Past Behind

Though the chances are slim, if your company has historically only told authentic stories about its products or its consumers, great! If not, now is the time for your marketing team to work with purpose. “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” is not always an acceptable approach your brand or marketing team should take, especially if there’s an opportunity to do better. Globalization is here to stay, which means geographically, marketers’ target audiences are more blended and diverse than ever before. Therefore, your brand or company has a social responsibility to include the stories and experiences of the people who were previously excluded – because inclusivity is the heart of telling stories authentically.

Marketers don’t always get things right and the truth is, there is no fool-proof way to get your marketing strategy right, but authenticity trumps everything. Always remember, the potential return to your company for telling authentic stories about its products, services, and/or consumers far outweighs the investment or disruption doing so might cause.

Darren McAlmontDarren McAlmont, Digital Marketing Specialist, Association of Canadian Advertisers

Darren is an award-winning writer who focuses his work primarily on matters of diversity, equity, and inclusion. His writings have often trended on social media and have been picked up and reshared by respected figures doing DEI work. Darren holds a master’s degree in Rhetoric and Communication Design from the University of Waterloo and a bachelor’s degree in English and Professional Writing from York University.