In Episode 99 of the Bright Planning Marketing Podcast, we’re wrapping up Season 2 — our Girl Power Season — with an awesome show that recaps the highlights of our best marketing storytelling tips from the past 99 episodes! A genuine must-listen!

During this episode, we talk about adding positivity to your storytelling and marketing. Think Zen! In a climate with so much contention, tragedy, and negativity, your positive messaging will stand out and be refreshing to your customer community. Strive to depict praiseworthiness in your marketing. Know your audience and what they want from their marketing, especially in terms of the length of the content that they prefer, and so forth.

Planning is essential. While a plan may not be worth much, planning is priceless! So, be strategic and plan for the long-term: Condition your audience’s attention spans. For instance, if you want to condition your audience to receive more content (or less) from you, then you must make this transition very gradually.

Remember to set your brand off to the side, and keep the customer at the center of the story. Feature your customers front and center! Be honest and transparent with your community. This is good PR, and it just makes good business sense. Join us for this episode to learn more! Thanks for listening.

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Continue on to read the transcript:

Catherine: I am your host, Catherine Campbell. I’m joined as always by my co-host, Natalie Pyles. And Natalie, we are at Episode 99, which I know I just said two seconds ago, but it’s really exciting.

Natalie: I know. I keep telling everyone that I talk to that I’m recording Episode 99 with you today, because I think it’s so fun.

C: I know. And you know, it has flown by. We’re coming to the end of our second season, which has been our girl power season, and we’re going to change it up in season three with new guests and experts. We’re going to be doing interviews, which we’ve never done on the podcast before, which is really exciting. But you know, Natalie, I’m going to miss our female power season here.

N: I know. I’ll miss it, too. Luckily, you’ll still let me be involved behind the scenes, so I’ll still get to be a part of the podcast, and I just really enjoyed this.

C: Ugh. I guess.

N: [laughing] I really enjoyed season two. Thank you so much, and this is, yeah, Episode 99. Congratulations, Catherine, and thanks to all of our listeners. This is a really huge milestone we’re approaching.

C: Yeah, I mean, Natalie and I could be recording 200, 300 episodes in a studio and have fun, but you know the podcast really wouldn’t exist without you the listeners, and we’re really grateful for everyone who has contributed questions over the season, who have left us star ratings and reviews on iTunes and SoundCloud, who have shared episodes. This season spread like wildfire, and I have had more people writing in saying, “I just love your podcast,” and a lot of people who I didn’t know have been sort of hanging out in the shadows, listening to our podcast all along, and just now started reaching out to us, and they’ve been lifelong listeners. So it’s really, it’s grown a lot this season, and we’re really grateful for you, so thank you.

N: Definitely.

C: So today, in Episode 99, we wanted to recap some of our best marketing and storytelling tips for you the business owner in the next 20 minutes, and just kind of give you the best of the best.

N: Cool. Okay, let’s do it.

C: All right. So I am actually going to flip this over to you, Natalie, because I want to start off with you. You are a powerhouse of opinion and information, and you’re able to see things from the consumer side, which has been one of the best parts about having this podcast together. I can see things from the marketing strategist side, which isn’t always the right way to see things. You’ve got to step into the customer’s shoes. So Natalie, I wanted to ask you what you think is one of the biggest takeaways, or one of the biggest tips as a customer you would like to see more of in marketing.

N: I think one of the things that I would like to see more of in marketing is stories of functional, happy people and families. Instead of stereotypical ads that put down men or women or kind of make families look frazzled or unhappy. I would like to see marketing kind of take a more positive view on those kinds of things.

C: Oh, that’s a good one. You know, we’re struggling right now in our society, I think, for positive news, and for happy moments in our day, and I would personally like to see some of that, too. Which totally 100% goes against my training as a marketer, because you know, as a marketing agency, we have to create that conflict and resolution, and that struggle, that uphill battle, those pain points, which I’m sure if you’ve been listening to the podcast, you are very well acquainted with that phrase now. But you know, to be honest, I would love to just help make a commercial for a client that was literally just 15 seconds of Zen. Just a nice, relaxing, here are puppies playing with each other, and rolling all over each other, for the next 15 seconds. Or here’s a baby asleep in someone’s arms for 15 seconds. Just a reminder, the world is still a good place, and there are good people in it, and this is brought to you by our brand.

N: Oh, I love that. I love that already. That’s exactly what I want more of, too. That’s great.

C: Yep. So any of you listening out there, there’s a free campaign idea for you. Take it and run with it. We need more positive stories, and more positive moments in our lives desperately right now. More than anything.

Which then leads us to, I think, the next storytelling tip, which is if you are constantly thinking about your brand at the center of your story, you have to step aside and put the customer front and center. I think that’s a big thing that a lot of companies don’t realize. They want to talk about them, and their company, and how long they’ve been in business, and what they’re doing, what they offer, and how great it is. But if you take one of your customers who has an amazing success story, or case study, or someone who’s really happy, and you put that front and center instead, it’s going to have a way bigger impact, because that person’s story is way more important than the brand’s story. It is part of the brand’s story.

N: Yeah, but it doesn’t feel like bragging. It doesn’t seem like you’re bragging at all. You’re just sharing the spotlight, and that feels really good.

C: Yeah. Exactly. So put your brand on the sideline, and be the coach. Don’t be the quarterback of your brand story.

N: Mm, that’s good. I love that. Be the coach, don’t be the quarterback. Okay. Got it.

C: All right. I may have been influenced a little bit by Friday Night Lights, to be honest.

N: [laughing] Yay.

C: [laughing] That’s my post.

N: Oh my gosh. Good times.

C: Mm-hmm. Okay. I would say our next best marketing tip is understand how long your particular audience’s attentions span is before making a marketing campaign. Here’s why I say this: you might be serving a particular generation or a particular type of audience that only has so much amount of time. For example, if you’re trying to sell to doctors, doctors literally have their day scheduled down to every 15 minutes. So they can’t pause and watch or read some really long sales page on your website. They would rather hear or see a commercial that’s 30 seconds, that just does it in a nutshell and tells them how it’s going to benefit them. Or if you’re talking to someone older, they may have a longer attention span for reading something, versus someone younger, who is of the video consuming culture and wants to watch a video on it.

So often, people look at, “Oh, I love this marketing campaign, so let’s duplicate it for our audience,” and never actually think about what their audience really, really wants in terms of consuming content and listening, or hearing, or seeing promotions. So just really think deeply about your audience and how long of an attention span they have, and then craft campaigns to that attention span.

Now, that piece of attention span marketing advice is going to be going hand-in-hand with the next piece of advice, which is that you can actually condition your audience to have longer attention spans with your brand. Here’s how you do it—you do it in small increments and baby steps. So every time, and you have to do it with your existing leads and clients and customers. It’s a little bit hard sometimes to do it with new leads, and I can go more into detail about this in a future episode. But say for example, you have a really short and sweet email that you send out every week. Well, every week, you can start to add one sentence to that email, and then another, and then another, and then another. After 6 weeks, you’re going to have a longer, story-driven email, where some things can be a little bit longer, but your audience is barely going to notice it, because you have slowly conditioned them to have a longer attention span with you.

The same thing goes for videos. If your first video was 30 seconds, try the next one being 45, and then the next one being 60, and then maybe being a minute and 15 seconds. Just do it in small increments with each little piece of content that you roll out. The same thing, if you realize that your audience, you know, they have a longer attention span, but you want to capture and get the point across faster, you’re just going to have to work backwards with them. So just play with it and experiment with it, and see if that works for you.

N: Okay.

C: A lot of people don’t do this.

N: Yeah. I can definitely see that working, especially in an email campaign, just a little bit at a time. Would you want to draw attention to that if you were adding content gradually? Would you be like, “Hey, you know, I’m making an effort to bring you a little bit more every single week?” Or do you want it to be really under the radar?

C: Ooh. You know, it’s typically under the radar, but I wonder what it would be like to give the audience a heads up like that, to be fully transparent. I believe in transparency, and honesty, and being up front. I think that there is a time and a place for, we live in a confessional society, so I think often, it’s an overused tactic to try to get a spotlight on something that isn’t worth very much. But I think in this case, Natalie, you’re right. I think it might work really well for a brand to be totally up front, and say, “Hey, we want to bring more value, so you might notice we’re bringing a little bit more value every week.”

N: Yeah.

C: I love that. That’s cool.

Okay, so our next marketing tip, and Natalie you might agree with me on this one, is businesses need to give a lot of love and attention to their local marketing and their local economy, and how they operate in it.

N: Yes. Oh my gosh, I am so on board with this. I love supporting local stuff.

C: Yeah, because too often, we are focusing on just marketing to the internet, and whatever the heck that means. We all think of it as like this vast, invisible sea of people, and that’s one of the best things about the internet. It’s so great that it was invented for this particular purpose. We are able to reach audience members that we wouldn’t otherwise be able to reach. But at the same time, we have sacrificed the love that we have for our local makers and producers in exchange for this quick online impersonal convenience. So when you’re a local business, too, I think we’re seeing a return now to the love of the local economy. We’re seeing these miniature economies that are popping up. It’s kind of a return to Main Street, if you will. So the baker, the farmer, the artisan, the crafter, you know, all of these people are once again getting a high amount of respect in our marketplaces, and a lot of the next generation does want local because they want to see who is making their things, who is putting the food on the table, where their items are coming from, what’s the story behind it.

So yeah, I think that’s really important. In order to do that, to market really well to your local customers who want to buy from you, you have to pay attention to making sure you are marketing locally. Make sure your Google business listings are updated and intact. Make sure your SEO is optimized for local. Have a local’s incentive or discount if you want to, or a loyalty program. Then also think about community partnerships. Who can you team up with locally to cross promote your products or services, and then reach a new local audience?

N: Yeah, I swear I had this idea when I was like 10, but I didn’t have anyone to tell it to because I didn’t know you then, but I feel like I’ve been thinking this for a long time. [laughing]

C: She’s been thinking this for a looong time.

N: I was like, “Why don’t Tide and 409 and be on the same commercial?” Don’t you think?

C: Yes.

N: Yeah. I don’t know. But for local things, that would totally work, too. I like that idea.

C: Cool. So then our next good marketing tip would be in planning. There’s a saying, if I remember correctly, and I think it goes something like this: a plan isn’t worth very much, but planning is priceless, or something like that. I’m sure there’s a gazillion variations on it. And a gazillion is a scientific measurement.

N: [laughing]

C: [laughing] So I cannot stress enough, because the name of this podcast is Bright Planning. It’s the name of my agency, Bright Planning. We specialize in marketing plans and planning for our clients. I cannot stress to you how important it is to plan out—and it’s not just a, you have to plan this out and stick with it no matter what, and don’t, you know, and stay the course, and ignore all the other amazing opportunities that come up. It’s not like that. It’s just that 9 times out of 10, the business owner that makes a marketing plan, at least for the next 6-12 months, I guarantee, you will sleep so much better at night. Especially if you’re able to create a plan that breaks it down for you in terms of what your monthly marketing goals and tactics are, and just kind of go month to month. You and your team are more likely to stay on top of that, and actually execute and meet those goals.

N: Mm. I love it. Anything that helps have a good night sleep, I love.

C: Yeah. Definitely. So plan, plan, plan. We have some great episodes and some great blog posts about crafting a marketing plan, who you need on your team, what to do if you stray from your marketing plan, and go way off course. So we’ll link to those in the show notes, which you can find at, and then you can look for Episode 99 in there and grab our show notes. And there will be links in there to help you formulate an easy marketing plan.

N: That’s incredible. They should go do that right now.

C: Yeah. Just do it right now.

Okay, now that you’re back, because you just grabbed those marketing plan URLs and blog posts and podcast episodes, let’s talk about some more storytelling tips.

If you did not listen to Episode 98, Writing Product Descriptions that Sell, you should go back and listen to that episode, because it dives into so much detail about how important it is that story is incorporated across everything that you do, including your product descriptions. You can have a beginning, middle, and end to your product descriptions, to your blog posts, to your emails, to your social media. You could put together a story-driven, 5-day Instagram post series where people can go along for 5 days, and 5 mini-chapters so to speak, on Instagram, and they would be hooked on your brand, and they would get to know it better that way, too.

This is one of the reasons, too, why you’re seeing a lot of these online challenges and things that come up, and it’s because online challenges, free challenges, 5-day and 7-day challenges—so there’s like a 7-day juicing challenge, or the 5-day bullet journal challenge or whatever it is—and the reason why people get into these challenges are one, they help you get results really quickly. You can see yourself accomplishing something a little bit every day. Two, it has a group accountability factor to it, which really helps. You feel like you’re part of something bigger than yourself. Three, they’re immersed in that brand’s story really quickly. They become the hero of that journey for just a little bit, during those 5- or 7-day challenges. It’s up to them to overcome the challenge and meet their goal. I can’t tell you how much storytelling can be incorporated, and it’s not something that’s like, “Once upon a time.” Don’t get intimidated by story structure. Just think about how it can make things a little bit more exciting.

So then next up is sort of hand-in-hand with storytelling, which is detail. One of the things that helps people sell their products or their services is the level of visual detail they can provide either through video or audio or written word. Great copywriting knows how to create a visual metaphor, or how to visually evoke an emotion or situation. I want you to think about your business, and I want you to write down some of the details that first come to mind when you think about your business. Don’t think too hard about it, don’t be an editor, just first thought, best thought. Write down and brainstorm as many details as you can.

If you close your eyes and you think about your business, you might think about the reception desk, and how it’s made out of old bowling alley lanes. You might think about the first customer you ever had, and how she was 67 years old, and you know, was an avid gardener and brought roses to your office because you did such a great job on that project. Perhaps it is the smell of coffee first thing in the morning because you didn’t brew it yourself. Someone else on your staff did, and they know how to brew a good cup of coffee. Just think about the smell of that cup of coffee. Perhaps it is the sound of the solar powered lawnmowers that your company provides because you’re an organic lawn care company.

Just think about the details that make your business yours. It doesn’t matter if you are the owner, or the marketing manager, or you’re just listening to this right now as a freelancer. Write down as many impactful details as you can, and from there, you’ll often find a gem or two that you can use in your copy or content and bring it to life.

N: Mm, yeah. Anyone can think of something that’s special about their business, or sentimental about the way it started, or the way it’s impactful. So I’m sure people’s minds are totally going a mile a minute right now thinking of what makes their company really unique.

C: Exactly. You don’t have to be a genius to write great content, or to write great copy. You don’t have to be a marketer with decades of experience. Great writing and great emotion can come from anywhere. This is where it comes from. It comes from those details that can hold universal emotion for you and the customer.

So now I’m going to bounce it back to you, Natalie. What other tips have stuck out for you over the last 99 episodes that you can think of that you just want to hammer home for our listeners?

N: I love how you are a big proponent of being really honest with your customers. I know that you’ve had a few episodes where you’ve given tips about how to handle public relations situations where maybe you feel like your company took a misstep, or maybe there’s something you want to clarify or improve. I think that’s really neat that you’ve given us some advice on how to do that honestly, and smartly, and strategically, too. How to just be a really up-front company.

C: Yeah. Honesty is the best policy. Like I said, I don’t think you have to be a fully confessional company, but being transparent goes a long way. Just saying, “Hey, w don’t know the answer,” or “Hey, we totally screwed up,” or “We’re going to make this right.” That’s the thing. Even if you don’t hit the mark 100% of the time, or there was something imperfect about your action, if you come to it with a solution, and a commitment to be better, you’re going to be better. Especially if you make that commitment public. That’s what matters.

N: Yeah, I even heard something similar on a podcast recently about therapists, and how sometimes therapists will even need to apologize for saying something to their patient, where they kind of felt like they were giving advice too strongly when they really shouldn’t have been, and so they’ll need to be like, “Hey, I’m sorry, I probably shouldn’t have said that.” And then model for the patient how to have a healthy conflict resolution, and be humble enough to apologize in a case where you would never be used to having a doctor or therapist apologize to you. That is just so unheard of. But I thought it was refreshing, and it reminded me of the strategies you encourage.

C: Ooh, wow, yeah, I love that. I think that’s a great example of how tough it is for anybody who’s in a leadership position to go through that, to take that action, and say, “We messed up,” or “I messed up.” I think that, I love that example. It is extreme, but to any small business owner, any company owner, or marketing team lead, it feels like that. It feels like a tough thing to do to own up to, and yet you are modeling a great example for others at the same time.

N: Mm-hmm, yeah.

C: That’s awesome.

Well, cool. So those have been some of our top marketing and storytelling tips in 20 minutes. We just wanted to hopefully pass along some nuggets of wisdom on your lunch hour, or on your commute, or whatever it is you’re doing right now. If you have any of your favorite tips or insights that you have learned over the last 99 episodes of our podcast, we would love, love, love to hear about them. You can write into, and just put, “Podcast,” in the subject line to make sure I get it. You can also go to our Facebook page, which is Bright Planning Marketing Strategy, and let us know on our Facebook page what was one of your favorite tips or insights that you have learned while listening to the podcast so far. We would love to share those as well with our audience.

N: Yeah, that would also be a really neat thing for our listeners to mention in an iTunes review. They could go on and share what their favorite episode was, because I think we would both find that really interesting. I would love to hear what our listeners’ favorite episode is, and leave us a rating and review that way. That would be amazing.

C: It’s always going to be the one where Jason did the rap, I think.

N: Oh, yeah. [laughing] Seriously.

C: I think that’s in the top 10.

N: Isn’t he the best?

C: It’s fantastic. [laughing] All right, so that’s going to do it for Episode 99. We’re going to be back next week with Episode 100, and we have a special guest joining us, so please tune into Episode 100 while we wrap up season two and get ready for season three coming in January 2019. In the meantime, we hope you have a great week. Market better, be better. We’ll see you next week for Episode 100.