August 20, 2012

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Rethinking Storytelling Does the medium dictate how the story is told? That’s a question of increasing urgency as brands develop assets and orchestrate experiences among and between channels and platforms. As online video replaces thirty second spots and games influence our expectations about how stories unfold, Latitude 42, a research consultancy, surveyed 158 tech forward people (heavy smartphone and tablet users) aged 12-65, about experiencing stories in the future. Titled “The Future of Storytelling: Phase 1 of 2” the responses reflect the current state of consumer expectations about media integration and hint at where we’re heading. Stories are the fundamental meme of human communication. From ancient times, stories reflected the outlook, sensibilities, hopes and dreams of the storyteller and the audience. Stories that were remembered and retold and stories that motivated thought or action were tales that connected the individual to the actors or the action. The same holds true today. Consumers want to be part of or connected to the stories and experiences that brands are creating. The survey found four important ways in. Immersion. Consumers want to go deeper into the story world. They want apps and websites or ancillary campaigns to fill them in on the back-story, add context, define terms or help them feel or sense the feelings or sensations in the story. They don’t want channels to simply duplicate the content. They want channels to compliment and enhance the experience. Interactivity. Consumers, familiar with participatory experiences and gaming want to influence elements of the story, become part of the story and share the experience with others. This probably reflects the influence of online communities dedicated to genres and discrete content where fans write biographies for characters, create alternative scenes and endings, develop new characters and invent storylines then share, discuss and debate all of these things with others who are equally involved and committed to the experience. Think of the variety or intensity of content-oriented communities on Fan Fiction or 4Chan or consider the intensity and dedication of Star Trek fans and you’ll get the point. Integration. Consumers expect integration between the real and digital worlds. They are interested in experiences that bridge both. Brands need to think about the real world as another platform. Many have used off-line events, promotions and appearances or even check-ins as content and interactive fodder for social media. Evidently this resonates with consumers who are eager to use their devices to enhance or advance online experiences. Impact. Content has to matter to be impactful. Consumers want to be informed, motivated, encouraged, empowered and directed to act. The story has to relate to the audience and touch a personal nerve. Stories aren’t passive. Consumers want an active experience where they do meaningful things. And they are willing to reward storytellers who touch them with longevity of attention and interaction and loyalty.
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The Next SoLoMo Killer App I have seen the post-Groupon SoLoMo retail solution. It’s called Leloca. And it’s running a Beta in New York with 1000+ consumers and 200+ restaurants, spas, gyms and shops. It simply and elegantly delivers the universal technology promise; immediate value exchanges between merchants and consumers and, in so doing, joins Zipcar and Airbnb in efficiently using technology to allocate time sensitive resources. Founded by Douglas Krone, a sushi-eating, dog loving Northwestern grad and serial entrepreneur, Leloca has a development team in India and 15 employees smiling and dialing to enroll merchants in Chicago. The mobile app is designed to sell available inventory, mostly restaurant seats, in real time. Merchants determine when, where and what they want to offer and set the parameters in a simple dashboard. Consumers get alerts and offers from the app. Merchants get free listings and pay just $1 per customer, validated and tracked by a unique code issued directly to each participating customer. For retailers, Leloca gives sophisticated yield management tools to smaller retailers with no investment in technology. Using a simple interface, merchants set the offer, the number of deals available, the time parameters and the geographic target. Some select a near-in trading zone; others opt for an exclusion zone to attract new customers from adjacent areas. Unlike Groupon, there’s no revenue share, no required loss-leader offer and no opportunity cost. And during the beta period, new merchants get 3 months of free service. For 116 million US smartphone users, especially the 8.9% who use their devices to seek out discounts or offers, the always-on iOS or Android app feeds you deals. There are no vouchers, no credit cards needed and no fine print. Deals are pushed to you. If you bite, you get a code that is live for 45 minutes and redeemed at the point of sale. It’s exclusively mobile, immediate and easy. The next wave of apps uses GPS and mapping linked to a rules engine platform to create productive in-the-moment experiences. They require little or no effort from consumers and can be shared via social networks to enable frictionless retailing.

Danny Flamberg

I am a veteran marketing consultant working with leading and emerging brands

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