The “Playground Technique” [New Marketing Strategy for 2019]

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Everyone wants to know the secret to insane success with marketing campaigns. Here it is:

ENGAGEMENT IS ALL THAT MATTERS

To grow your business & brand you need to:

  • Get people’s attention

  • Keep their attention

  • Deliver compelling value

  • Get them to come back for more

We understand - this can be really difficult to do.

Between new technologies, the noise online, and evolving strategies for every platform it can feel like we’re trying to keep a handful of water from running out through our fingers.

 
 

Well, this year we started applying a new system to our digital strategies that had great results for our clients and our own brand.

It’s called The Playground Technique and we’ll dive into it in just a second.

Content & Marketing in 2019

In 2018 we used interactive & immersive content to grow our followers, increase engagement on all our platforms, and increase time spent on our site. But what worked in 2018 won’t keep working in 2019.

To differentiate your brand and win big, you need to engage customers in new ways.

Did you know?

The charts below from the Content Marketing Institute indicate that 75% of B2B marketers and 73% of B2C marketers have a content marketing strategy of some kind.

Since 2016, our team has tested dozens of marketing strategies that feature new media like 360° photo & video, Virtual Reality (VR), Augmented Reality (AR) / 3D content and Artificial Intelligence (AI).

Over this time we’ve come to recognize a better way to craft strategies - one that leverages the best of every platform and content type (even 360/VR/AR/AI).

In 2019, marketers will have more opportunities than ever before to engage audiences in new and meaningful ways.

The Playground Technique (for brand storytelling)

The Playground Technique is a system for creating multi-channel stories and strategies that drives CRAZY engagement with audiences online.

You may be asking - “What does a playground have to do with my marketing strategy?”

Good question.

Let’s consider what we know about playgrounds.

  • They come in all shapes and sizes.

  • Everyone has a favorite thing on the playground.

  • Better playgrounds have cooler toys.

  • It’s only when a slide, monkey bars, basketball hoop, etc. come together that you actually have a playground rather than one toy.

 
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The Playground Technique takes the same ideas as above and applies them to brand storytelling and marketing.

  • Every brand is different and requires different methods to effectively tell their story.

  • Different audiences engage with content in unique ways. While one segment might react well to Facebook Ads, another segment may be more receptive to interactive quizzes.

  • People love to try the latest and greatest experiences but it needs to be easily accessible (MAYA)

  • Telling a better brand story with a successful marketing campaign means all the pieces work together in a cohesive whole.

 
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So why is all of this important?

Like we mentioned earlier - “Engagement is all that matters. Engagement is everything!” (a quote from Palmer Luckey -  the OG mack daddy behind the Oculus VR rig.)

 
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I’m telling you a universal truth of effective storytelling right now: if your audience doesn’t engage with your story then your effort is wasted.

And 360° content is one incredible way to engage, engage, engage. Other ways include communities, reviews, chatbots, quizzes, video and more.

For your reference, 360° ad platform Omnivirt has served over 1 billion ads to date, and the stats tell a clear story:

 
Stats pulled from Omnivirt, a 360 display ad platform that has served over 1 billion immersive ads.

Stats pulled from Omnivirt, a 360 display ad platform that has served over 1 billion immersive ads.

 

Did you know? 48% of B2C marketers meet with their teams either daily or weekly to discuss their content marketing program; 28% of those marketers say the meetings are “extremely” valuable and 31% say they are “very” valuable. (According the the Content Marketing Institute.)

HOW TO TELL A BETTER BRAND STORY THROUGH MARKETING (METHODOLOGIES)

The Playground Technique didn’t just pop out of nowhere.

We’ve been developing this new methodology for the last three years using trial, error, customer feedback, and the latest research.

 
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To create the Playground Technique we combined the best parts of several amazing methodologies for marketing & storytelling.

Method 1: Brand Storytelling
Method 2: Transmedia Storytelling
Method 3: Integrated Marketing
New Method: Playground Technique

BRAND STORYTELLING (METHOD #1)

Brand Storytelling: “It’s a phrase we all understand because it’s one of the fundamental ways we communicate ideas, educate and entertain each other from infancy. We remember information far better when it’s in the form of story rather than as a list of facts. People tell stories, art tells stories, TV tells stories, ads tell stories… so it seems straightforward enough when a marketer talks about ‘storytelling’, we know what they mean…” - Christopher Ratcliff of Econsultancy

Your message is worth reading & sharing, right? Well… only if your story is good.

To get someone’s attention and connect with them, your brand needs to tell a great story.

Lucky for us we have better tools for telling stories and building that connection than ever before. Use them well and you’ll be slam dunking on your competition.

 
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TELLING YOUR STORY

Start by breaking your story down into its basic components. Here are a few ideas that can improve your storytelling.

1. Have a strong beginning, middle and end. Also referred to as the set-up, narrative arc, and resolution. One narrative format you can try is the Hero’s Journey. (Watch the video below to learn more!)

Want to go deep on this subject? Learn about the 12 Step Hero’s Journey.

2. Try following these proven story patterns

  • Overcome the Monster

  • Rags to Riches

  • Quest or Adventure

  • Voyage and Return

  • Comedy

  • Tragedy

  • Rebirth

These basic story patterns are familiar and easy for audiences to follow, so you should see how you can include them in your marketing practices.

 
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3. Skip the slow / boring parts. 😜

Let’s be real, these story patterns and “start, middle and ends” can be long… so when it comes to your marketing, do your best to skip the slow / boring pieces.

Be clear and concise. You only have 8 seconds to captivate.

4.  Be authentic, genuine and useful.

Yes, it’s a trendy word lately but as Shakespeare said: “To thine own self be true”. Don’t tell a story that doesn’t fit your brand. (And as Seth Godin is eager to remind us, be sure your authenticity is backed by usefulness as well. Here’s a video where Seth Godin shares some common storytelling mistakes.)

Consider the following: How can you personalize your story? Which storyline most naturally fits you? What kind of content are you most comfortable creating and sharing?

 
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5.  Use the element of SURPRISE!

When designing your content think about the relationship between “the expected” and “the relevant.”

Brand Storytelling Tips For Marketers via tintup.com

Brand Storytelling Tips For Marketers via tintup.com

The goal: provide audience with content that is unexpected AND relevant

6.  Consider your own goal AND your customer’s goal!

I found this old Indian proverb that says, “Tell me a fact and I’ll learn. Tell me the truth and I’ll believe. But tell me a story and it will live in my heart forever.”

It’s a perfect bookend for this section.

In the next section keep reading to learn:

  • What telling a story means for constructing a marketing campaign

  • Elements of success in bringing storytelling to life in your brand marketing

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TRANSMEDIA STORYTELLING (METHOD 2)

You’ve probably never heard of this concept before, but trust us when we say it will change the game for you.

Transmedia Storytelling: telling a story across multiple platforms, preferably allowing audience participation, such that each successive platform heightens the audiences’ enjoyment.

 
 

Robert Pratten, CEO of Conducttr, is someone who has actively developed the transmedia philosophy throughout the 2000s.

This philosophy encourages us to recognize the integrated relationship between marketing and entertainment in order to better engage audiences in storytelling.

When it comes to Transmedia Storytelling, Robert says: “By adopting this entertainment-marketing duality, the audience will advocate on your behalf and share content because it meets their personal and social needs…”

 
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This idea originated in regards to big media franchises (think Transformers, Star Wars, etc.).

You may not run an entertainment business, but this philosophy is 100% relevant for EVERY brand today.

Brands that entertain & move their audience emotionally in the process of telling their story are the companies with a rabid user base.

No matter what your business is, it’s your job (on some level) to entertain your audience. This is relevant for both B2C and B2B businesses!

If you’re not adding that essential value to someone’s life, then they have no reason to engage with you on social media, comment on your content, or attend your events.

 
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TAKEAWAY: Here are some ways you can consider entertaining your audience through content marketing.

  • Infographics & GIFographics (educational, fun and possibly interactive)

  • Live Video (Ex: Interactive Facebook trivia games like Confetti)

  • Quizzes (Think Buzzfeed or on a more serious note a “Quiz to learn about your business”)

  • Immersive Media (360° content, VR, Apps, AR, and more)

  • Artificial Intelligence (Facebook Messenger Chatbots)

  • Witty email marketing (Send your audience something fun or educational once a week)

Ok, you get the picture. The point is this: think about what content you are currently creating and how it can ENTERTAIN your audience while delivering your message.

The second part of Transmedia Storytelling dives into how the different elements of your content work together.

Figure 2, “Getting Started with Transmedia Storytelling”, by Robert Pratten

Figure 2, “Getting Started with Transmedia Storytelling”, by Robert Pratten

The Old World idea: where the whole is less than the sum of the parts. (Dissatisfying conclusion when people consume all media.)

The New World idea: where the whole is more satisfying than the sum of the parts. (Euphoria of collecting all the pieces & connecting the dots of a brand’s story.)

Let’s think about the Star Wars brand for a second. *Wookiee sounds*

Fans get outraged when the franchise releases content that doesn’t align with the “canon” (the accepted mainstream history of the Star Wars universe) because it causes confusion and contradicts the main storylines.

On the other side of things, fans love an accurate dive into side stories & adventures that are relevant to the larger story.

These things EXPAND the universe and paint a bigger picture, creating a more satisfying experience for fans who consume each piece.

Your marketing is creating a universe for your brand.

In marketing terms, your brand story goes out across multiple channels… So each piece must work together or you risk creating an unsatisfying experience for your fans and customers.

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INTEGRATED MARKETING AKA METHOD 3

Integrated Marketing: An approach to creating a unified and seamless experience for consumers to interact with the brand/enterprise…. a mix of tactics, methods, channels, media, and activities, so that all work together as a unified force… (All definitions by the DMA.)

When you are getting started with integrated marketing there are two things to consider:

1. What kind of content will you use to tell your story? Here’s a graphic that should be useful.

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Did you know? In B2B industries companies use on average 7 content types to distribute their message and 5 social media platforms. In B2C industries companies use on average 6 content formats to distribute their message and 6 social media platforms.

2. This useful formula. Content Elements + Customer Sales Lifecycle + Brand Story and Experience = Integrated Marketing

Now, we realize it’s way easier said than done. So here are two AWESOME reports to help you find the right content for your business. Pay attention to most effective use cases for each.

2018 B2B Content Marketing Trends - North America: Content Marketing Institute/Marketing Profs

2018 B2C Content Marketing Trends - North America: Content Marketing Institute/Marketing Profs

Be sure to also consider what types of content are most effective in your industry, are most authentic to you and most useful for your audience.

TAKEAWAY: Now that you are choosing the best pieces of content to entertain your audiences, consider how they work together to best tell your story. Use all the marketing pieces to create one seamless experience that is satisfying to your customer!

THE PLAYGROUND TECHNIQUE (METHOD 4)

This technique was developed over three years of industry experience with the Beaumonde team. We combined the best of each methodology as seen previously in this blog with our own experience, research and feedback from projects in a variety of industries.

Here’s a quick outline of the technique. Read on to get a deeper look at each element.

Classic Pieces To Consider:

  1. Brands need a character and a story.

  2. The best stories are both relevant, somewhat predictable but also surprising.

  3. You have to be able to measure your success through data.

  4. Marketing should be entertaining or educational. (valuable)

  5. Your content mix should fit together like a puzzle.

  6. Understand the customer lifecycle and what content works best for your business.

New Pieces To Consider:

  1. Interactivity = Engagement, Engagement = Results

  2. New Technology for Storytelling (It’s Easier Than You Think)

  3. You Must Crush It On Mobile

 
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Ok, here’s the DEEPER DIVE into each piece. The main pieces of the playground as seen before:

1. In order for audiences to connect with a business, the brand needs a character and story.

2. The best brand stories have both elements of relevance, some predictability and some surprise. Predictability means that your audience can easily follow along. Surprise means your audience is kept on their toes and wants to come back for more.

 
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3. Goals, metrics, and measuring success. "If you don’t know where you are going, you will probably end up somewhere else." –Lawrence J. Peter

Here is a great article from Entrepreneur about the importance of goals and vision.

4. Marketing should be entertaining and educational. The point is, what are you doing for your audience that would make them want to return for more? No one likes boring!

5. When it comes to content marketing, the content your business chooses to make should fit together like puzzle pieces to create one cohesive picture. Consider which pieces of content will serve your business best, which pieces fit together best to tell a story, and which pieces of content are the most authentic to your sto

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6. Consider the customer lifecycle. If you already know what kind of content your business will use in marketing, think about how the content should be used during the customer experience. Which pieces of content go at the beginning? The middle? The end?

This sounds familiar right? beginning, middle, and end? The customer life cycle can be a reflection of your brand story.

 
Source : Alexa, Customer Lifecycle Marketing

Source: Alexa, Customer Lifecycle Marketing

 

NEW TERRITORY - this is where the brand playground technique gets interesting.

There are 3 new ideas to consider!

1. Interactivity and Engagement!

As we mentioned at the beginning of this blog, engagement is all that matters. Interactive marketing is the secret weapon for higher engagement and recall.

Marketers have always needed to adapt as new techniques become more popular. In the modern whirlwind of content marketing, consumers are definitely starting to tune content out.

There is even a term for what people experience on the consumption end of things - Content Shock.

Content Shock graphic from 2012

Content Shock graphic from 2012

While you might have looked at the ideas before and thought OK, maybe an infographic or a video is best for my brand - just keep in mind that an enormous amount of content is consumed every minute! So how is yours standing out?

(Here’s a real time Social Media measurement tool from Coupofy that shows you just how much stuff is uploaded every second.)

Here’s how we think you can stand out.

Stay up on marketing trends, especially in your industry. Stay agile. This way you can know how to best market your brand story and services. Stay flexible because things can change at the drop of a hat! Be ready to serve your audience the best content that will drive engagement and interactions.

2.   New technology - the delight of innovative media. So as you have seen, there is a TON of content posted online everyday.

But never fear, today’s rapid pace of technological change creates plenty of easy ways to stand out. We live in this incredible technological revolution where new innovative media lets us take audiences deeper into our story than ever before.

Think of it this way. As a kid, all the playgrounds are the same until you visit one that has a crazy cool new obstacle course with a slide. The fact that you have never seen or experienced it before is enough for you the love the heck out of it and remember it for a long time.

The same goes for your content & marketing strategy.

 
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We are surrounded by all kinds of new media such as VR, AR, 360° content, chatbots, apps, video technologies, and more. It’s time for you to use them to your advantage.

Want to learn which social media platforms support new media content? Read: Which Social Media Platforms Support New Media?

See the full interactive chart here:  Which Social Media Platforms Support New Media?

See the full interactive chart here: Which Social Media Platforms Support New Media?

It’s the best resource to get started with new media anywhere on the internet. Use this immersive content support chart to think about how you can start innovating.

Let’s bust some myths about innovative content:

  • There is NOT a price barrier to entry.

    • Many of these new technologies are available through freemium apps or there are companies like us that create better solutions for launching your new media marketing campaigns. Ok sure, it might be out of the average businesses price range to create the next fully immersive VR Jurassic World Experience but there are a million other AFFORDABLE ways to use new tech in your marketing TODAY.

  • New tech isn’t always hard to use.

    • While headsets & immersive content may look super complicated on the outside, like “whoa how in the world did that business create that” - in reality they are only created to the specs a client asks for. There are easy solutions and there are also advanced solutions. If you ever feel out of your comfort zone creating this kind of new content there are plenty of professionals available for hire. Why not re-allocate some of your marketing budget to a creator who can make content that is immersive and drives better results for your brand?

 
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  • Innovative content works on pretty much every platform.

    • Nearly every major social media and web platform supports innovative content like 360° photo/video and more. Thanks to WebVR your immersive content can live anywhere on the internet. And social platforms offer a lot of support too. The only ones that are truly lagging behind are Pinterest and LinkedIn.

3. Meet people where they spend time: on their phone.

Did you know? US adults will spend an average of 3 hours, 35 minutes per day on mobile devices in 2018, an annual increase of more than 11 minutes. By 2019, mobile will surpass TV as the medium attracting the most minutes in the US.

This means that when you are creating a marketing campaign to tell your brand’s story, you should consider where your audience spends their time. The answer is most likely on mobile.

Making your content and website mobile friendly are great starting points for your strategy.

But if you want to squeeze some extra juice out of your mobile campaigns then you need to ask: what can I do on mobile that I can’t do anywhere else?

 
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The answer lies in the tech powering a smartphone. Creating content that activates the gyroscope or accelerometer on a phone is inherently more engaging if it is told as part of a larger story.

This kind of interaction gamifies the content experience in a unique way, encouraging exploration and interaction.

The more you know about your audience, the better you can understand how they behave with their phone and cater your story and content to their habits.

 
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TAKEAWAY: The Playground Technique is about creating an interactive marketing campaign that touches on all the essentials: interactive content, innovative mediums, mobile optimization & gamification, and more. The most important thing is differentiation! How is your brand telling it’s best story in a way that is going to stand out from a crowd and get your audience's attention! Using these methodologies will set you up for success to drive engagement.

THE “PLAYGROUND TECHNIQUE” IN ACTION

Let’s review some good examples of brand storytelling!

Did you know? Cognitive psychologist Jerome Bruner suggests we are 22 times more likely to remember a fact when it has been wrapped in a story?

THE FIELD MUSEUM:

The Field Museum in Chicago

What they used: Experiential Content + Video + Digital Display + Influencers + Social Media + Out of Home

  • The Field Museum ran a wonderful content marketing campaign that drove tons of new engagement to the museum. Some of the elements included:

    • Influencers for cultural interactions when it came to new exhibitions. Sharing posts and information.

    • Lamp post banners and billboards to alert people in the city to upcoming attractions.

    • Social media clues for online games/interactions to drive viral engagement.

    • 360° Video of exhibitions and visitors enjoying the museum.

    • Interacting digital advertising with targeting reach to get the word out!

    • Social media interactions through stories on multiple platforms like Instagram and Snapchat.

Click here to see some of their 360 videos on Vimeo.

And to see how the biggest brands in the world stack up in terms of good storytelling: Here is a cool interactive chart.

STAR WARS, The Force Awakens:

What they used: Pretty much everything.

The Star Wars franchise is a perfect example of a brand that uses the Playground Technique in their marketing. They included all traditional marketing tools like display ads, social media ads, PR, and more. Then they went above and beyond, creating immersive 360 experiences for social media viewing, mobile phone viewing, and headset viewing. They knew what fans wanted and they were sure to coordinate releases and launches with the excitement their fanbase was feeling.

Disney ran a record-breaking marketing campaign that absolutely dwarfed results from campaigns by other big brands. From TrackMaven.com:

Overall, Star Wars averages 868,951 views for every video posted on its official YouTube account. That level of attention dwarfs the engagement seen by leading brands on YouTube, including: GoPro (565,782 average views per video); Coca Cola (267,849); BMW (132,478); GE (45,136); and even the new owner of the Star Wars franchise, Disney (7,976).”

Here’s a great wrap-up from Ahrefs on the content marketing strategy for The Force Awakens (even though they don’t include 360 content in the write-up).

Additional behind-the-scenes 360s: https://www.starwars.com/news/star-wars-360-view-the-force-awakens-set-panoramas-at-starwars-com

From Forbes: “What Disney does exceptionally well is making audiences care about things they don't even know they want, turning properties into not just movies, but cultural phenomenons.”

MUSIC MARKETING CAMPAIGNS:

Musicians market their music and new albums in all kinds of ways!

First, check out this video for 5 cool examples of how musicians found their success in marketing.

Ok, what can we learn from these examples?

  1. All of these musicians are using content and mediums that let their audiences engage directly with them! Aka a playground…. Let your fans play in your marketing campaigns - it should be fun!

  2. All of these musicians have unique campaigns that are authentic to who they are as people. When it comes to your business, don’t try to be something you are not.

  3. They all used a variety of integrated marketing techniques to fully launch their albums and grow their audience over time.

The Chainsmokers

The Chainsmokers had a killer year in 2018. They took an innovative approach to their album release, dropping a track per month through 2018 which ultimately culminated with a collective release for their 2nd album: Sick Boy.

They’ve done all the normal marketing & brand stuff you’d expect for a band, but they’ve also gone above and beyond with their storytelling. Is it any wonder why they’re a top DJ act in the world? They’ve got some exclusive performances on MelodyVR, they’ve been filmed live in 360, and they’ve even used AR to engage Shazamers with their latest releases. How cool is this?

They are rocking the Playground Technique.

TRILL SAMMY (IMMERSIVE ALBUM COVER):

Our own example is the Trill Sammy immersive album cover!

The Challenge: Help rapper Trill Sammy’s first major label release stand out online from all the other musicians selling tickets and getting streams.

The solution: Use immersive content to engage more fans with his release campaign. On his album cover you can see a tiny planet and now in a first of its kind project, fans can dive into the tiny planet itself as an immersive world.

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Click here to see the whole case study and the finished 360 concept.

TAKE AWAY: As you choose your content, consider how you can apply an interactive or visual element to boost it’s effectiveness in your campaign. Here is a great infographic that outlines a few examples:

 

Click to expand!

 

Wrapping up & Getting started

You might be thinking of one of these reasons for not taking the next step with your own content marketing strategy. Well we are here to help.

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2018 B2C Content Marketing Trends - North America: Content Marketing Institute/Marketing Profs

At the end of the day all you need to get started is a piece of paper to write out your plan based on the guide outlined in this blog and a little bit of time.

We understand it might seem like a lot, but the key is to do one thing at a time.

  • Set SMART goals so that you can advance in the right direction without getting overwhelmed.

  • You can do it yourself! And if you ever need help, we are here.

  • This is definitely important if your goal in 2019 is to grow your business, so let’s get started today.

 
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FINAL TAKEAWAY: Make sure to have fun.

Think of marketing as a creative exercise in telling your story. Just like when you were a young kid and you got to play on the playground and try all the fun toys - now it’s time for your business.

Don’t stress, get excited. With this new system for success - you are sure to see a difference in your business for 2019!

And remember - Beaumonde is here to make this happen for you.

Reach out if you have any questions or you want a partner in 2019.

Thanks for reading!

 
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Written by Caroline Caldwell & Shep Bryan

Hope you enjoyed it! Reach out with any thoughts, questions or suggestions.

@CaroTheCreative // @ShepBryan