The Olympics is the most longstanding and globally recognized sporting event in the history of the universe. It is unstoppable and so are the athletes, or at least we thought that was the case up until 2020. As with many other activities and sporting events, Covid-19 dowsed the Olympic flame and delayed all activities for one year until July 2021.

While many of us are enjoying the competitions and unearthly feats of the world’s most accomplished athletes from the comfort of our homes, the only spectators at these games are the participants and the essential workers that required to manage the events and media required to tell the stories to the world. The Olympics is a global conference of athletic prowess, but it is also big business which includes an incredible and expensive marketing effort.

The 2020 Olympics (as they are known officially) was bid at $7.5 billion when the International Olympic Committee (IOC) awarded the games to Tokyo in 2013. That number has been blown out of the water by a total cost of $25 billion spent during the past several years according to an audit by the Japanese government. The unexpected contingency of the one-year delay added an additional $2.8 billion to the tab.

And it has not gone unnoticed that the branding which prominently displays “Tokyo 2020” across every mezzanine and over every venue has not been updated to reflect the current year, 2021. While the IOC has its own reasons for sticking with 2020 on everything, there are some takeaways for small businesses and their marketing strategies.

Four years from now, few of us will remember exactly what the “Tokyo 2020” logo looked like, but we will remember the stories of sportsmanship, thrilling victories, and agonizing defeats. We remember the stories because they are what connect and engage us on a personal level.

Every person, brand, product, and business have stories to tell. Connecting with your target audience or buyers along their lifecycle requires marketing strategies which include strategic messaging and storytelling. Integrated marketing communications brings all strategies together with carefully crafted content to tell the story using narratives, visuals, video, and/or multimedia elements.

Brand stories do not happen in a vacuum, they are strategically shaped, crafted, and released. Here are a few tips for developing and promoting your brand story.

Be Authentic

Think about this. Was there ever a day in your life when you did not convey a story to someone, or have one conveyed to you? Stories personalize our lives and relate our humanity to one another. If you want your brand to take hold with your targets, tell your story.

Your brand story is as much about the present as it is about your history. Begin with the problem that your brand is solving and the values you engaged to develop the solution. Our minds are wired for storytelling, which makes consumers particularly receptive to well-crafted brand narratives. The right story will be told and shared again and again.

Be Relatable

To get traction with your targets, your story must be relatable. Relatability is dependent on a well-crafted narrative, as well as the medium that narrative is delivered in. Identifying the types of content that engage your targets often requires testing. Focus groups are an effective way to test the message. After compiling the testing results, the data and analytics can be streamlined and delivered for optimal timing.

With so many ways to measure engagement, impressions, and reach, content can provide real time feedback without convening a group of individuals to test things out. A/B testing can provide direct and informative knowledge to hone each advertising effort. A/B testing requires two slightly different approaches to the same ad. Ad A may be a carousel option and Ad B could include the same messaging but as a short video. It is often surprising to learn what is really working and capturing the right type of engagement. With A/B testing, marketing efforts can be honed, and pivots made to realize the best return on your marketing spend.

Be Engaging

We are all very familiar with “cancel culture” and how it can take hold in a matter of hours, if not minutes. The viral spread of good, and bad, content relies on engagement. Every brand wants to be on the winning side of going viral. And yet, every company dreads the misstep that might take their brand viral for the wrong reasons. If your brand story is authentic and relatable, you have likely built a rapport and garnered trust with your target audience.

Longstanding trust between a brand and its stakeholders is paramount when thwarting possible reputation attacks or recovering from legitimate missteps. Brand stories are carefully crafted narratives but are most effective if they are delivered to the right audience at the right time. It is critical to know who your targets are, who they engage with, and where they hang out. Armed with this information, you have the best chance of getting your brand in front of those who will be most interested.

Our Tokyo 2020 memories will likely stick with us for decades. Most of what we will carry with us are the memories of stories that touched our hearts because of how we related to them. Similar to the Olympic sagas, the story of your business, as it unfolds, can build trust with your targets and customers. It can be memorable, engaging, and share-worthy if you focus on authenticity and the right medium for delivery. If you are wondering how to best reveal your story, UrbanLink Group can help!

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