Destination Innovate uses mind tricks to market to consumers.

How to keep your message on target by crafting all of your marketing around the big idea of narrative psychology.

Storied messaging and getting into the minds of the individuals in your brand’s audience are just a couple of ways that our podcast guests continue to be incubators for big ideas. Jennifer Barbee, CEO, and Kristen Cruz, president, of Destination Innovate, have been working in digital marketing for nearly 20 years and are redefining the ad agency model. They’ve worked with over 400 brands helping businesses modernize their marketing with new approaches in brand influencers and paid endorsers and looking at the bigger picture in data and statistics, but what’s their secret to staying focused on the bigger picture?

1. Craft your message using narrative psychology.

Typically when someone begins crafting their brand message for marketing, they’ll think about what it is they personally want to say about their company or product or service. The word choices and call to action are driven by how the marketer, their boss, their coworkers, and so on feel about how it sounds and feels to them. You think, do they like it? Yes, they do. Then great, it’s going to be a success.

Well, I hate to break it to you, if you’re approaching it this way then you’re doing it wrong. As Jen explains it, narrative psychology is the idea that the individual in your target audience cares more about themselves in anybody’s story than they do in the brand’s story.

So, consider how you can tell your brand story that puts your prospect or your customer and their end game in the tale. When you think about it, social media is all about narrative psychology. Everyone is posting the latest photos, videos, and statuses of what is happening in real time in their lives. You need to craft a story that speaks to this mindset.

“We always try to put the client’s brand or perspective as a painkiller and not a vitamin because if your tooth’s hurting, you’re going straight to that dentist, but taking vitamins is a whole other psychology.” – Jennifer Barbee

Your goal for messaging shouldn’t be to make it all about you and your brand. It should be about your customer and your brand. They should hear the pain points and think, yes, that’s my pain! Your brand should be their pain reliever. You need to stir an emotion in your audience that inspires them to take action. Create a direct connection between your customer’s emotions and your brand messaging and your audience will continually tie that emotion with your brand.

2. Optimize relationships with brand ambassadors and influencers.

There’s a secret to collaborating with brand ambassadors successfully.

For starters, be authentic.

No one likes to feel that they’ve been deceived. If you’re sponsoring someone to review your product or offering sample products to test and refer others, then be open about it. Viewers just want to know the kind of filter the message is being sent through.

During the discussion, Jen referenced ScentBird as a great example of how a company and its sponsors can bring transparency to the brand influencer roles.

Think long term with smaller, micro influencers.

When building relationships with brand ambassadors and influencers, you want to play the long game. Sure, it sounds great to have the latest high-status celebrity singing praises about your brand, but in the long run, the success from that major investment will be a short-lived peak in your marketing results.

Look to community influencers. Research their audience and confirm that their followers align with yours. Find the local community influencers that are already interested in, talking and posting about similar topics to your products or services. It will feel natural and authentic when they announce a new sponsor opportunity with your brand and sharing their thoughts and feelings to their followers.

“The majority of influencers are those micro influencers between 10 and 50,000 followers collectively. They are still using social media in a way that is something that you can relate to. It’s not all about being an ambassador or being an influencer. They are really using it on a day to day basis to just share your experiences in general. So it just definitely feels more authentic from that standpoint.” – Kristen Cruz

Building an organic relationship with local influencers like this will last longer and continue to benefit both you and the influencer’s followers in a longer-lasting, more impactful way.

3. Push vs Pull Strategy

First, let’s take a look at the difference between these two strategies.

A push strategy pushes your products to consumers. You are putting your product or service directly in front of the buyer. Think of this like a tradeshow where you might have samples available or demos of your product.

A pull strategy pulls your customer to your product or service. The customer will actively search and seek out what you have to offer. This is typical of social media marketing, discounts and promotional offers, and ______________.

Your goals will affect the type of marketing strategy you will want to use. Jen and Kristen share how their approach to shift from a push strategy to a pull strategy with Visit Space Coast had a major impact on the results.

“Their PR Agency had been doing a push instead of a pull strategy. You’r not visiting every single day and it’s not community management, it’s tourism marketing. So, you take a little different approach that we say, okay, so what’s going to make these people wanna be our best friend and just follow and share.” – Jennifer Barbee

Using a pull strategy, Destination Innovate began creating and curating lots of sharable content. They’d share funny memes and relatable photos, all without including the customer’s pain message in it.

“What was really fun was the Christmas [meme] we did went viral with no paid, got over a million views, shares and likes. And it was ‘Towards the night before Christmas and all through the house the AC was on because we live in the South.’” – Jennifer Barbee

This tactic breathed new life into their audience and that holiday week they beat all of the tourism competition in Florida on engagement, including the state of Florida. With their audience now thriving, they built advertising content based on brand personas and crafted promotions using the last click attribution model.

Based on their engagement the messages can change and evolve as they get closer to wanting to plan their trip and make a purchase. By strategically using demand and lead generation techniques, your advertising will take pull prospects into purchasing your products and services.

4. Demand vs Lead Generation

Demand generation for your brand is creating the demand for your product or service within an audience. They might not even want it right now, be able to afford it right now, whatever the factor is, but your building that desire to then draw them into a lead generation model. The lead generation model is a conversation between your potential consumers and brand based on the fact that you know them — you know what they like, you know what they want, you know their struggles, their joys, these are your personas. When you’ve used a demand generation model to cultivate relationships between your target audience and your brand, the lead generation model helps you convert them to customers.

“Demand generation is dating and lead generation is putting a ring on it.”

Success in the Long Run

The strength of your story and connection and brand trust that you build with your audience will be the ultimate factor in reaching your marketing goals. Being aware and in tune of who your audience is and why they should care will help you craft engaging and emotional stories. Find the shared passions and struggles and when shared with an intentional strategic plan you’ll create long-lasting brand ambassadors, influencers, and die-hard customers.

About the guests: Jennifer Barbee, CEO, and Kristen Cruz, President, are breaking the ad agency mold and leading innovative marketing methods at Destination Innovate.

Want more destination and attraction marketing insights? Find our most recent chats on the Zesty Marketing Podcast.

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