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(Lobke Peers/Getty Images/iStockphoto)
(Lobke Peers/Getty Images/iStockphoto)

COMMENTARY

Cut through the ad clutter by telling a great story Add to ...

Advertisers are starting to push creative boundaries in an attempt to engage, using the latest innovations, from gaming strategies to social media to branded video and Web TV content.

But with all of the clutter we are surrounded by in this digital age, getting someone to pay attention to a company’s brand message seems to be getting trickier.

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From annoying pop-up ads to often completely irrelevant video pre-rolls, the clutter is causing consumers’ “BS meters,” as digital rock star Gary Vaynerchuk has called them, to become more sensitive and accurate than ever before.

So while the speed of technology is increasing, it’s interesting to note that one of the hottest trends in online marketing might just be the age-old art of story-telling.

What does this mean? To cut through the clutter, businesses need to stop annoying, and start telling stories.

Story-telling has evolved from ancient rock markings to the current age, where brands are able to effectively tell their stories via Web video, blog posts and social media platforms. Despite technology’s effect on the methods we’re using to tell stories, the basics remain.

If you ask the experts, they’ll tell you the same story they’ve been telling for years.

“Marketing is storytelling,” says author, entrepreneur and expert Seth Godin. Writing on “ How to tell a great story,” Mr. Godin says that “first impressions are far more powerful than we give them credit for,” making it important to ensure your story does what you need it to do the first time someone reads, hears or watches it.

“Your products and your service and your people are all part of the story,” Mr. Godin adds.

Peter Guber, chief executive officer of Mandalay Entertainment Group and co-owner of the NBA's Golden State Warriors, also has a take on the importance of story-telling.

“Simply put, if you can’t tell it, you can’t sell it,” he writes in Tell to Win: Connect, Persuade, and Triumph with the Hidden Power of Story.

The first chapter is entitled “It’s about the story, stupid.” You can read it by downloading it here.

“Our brains still respond to content by looking for the story to make sense out of the experience. No matter what the technology, the meaning starts in the brain,” writes Pamela Brown Rutledge, director of the Media Psychology Research Center, in The psychological power of storytelling posted on Psychology Today. She notes that there are several psychological reasons why story-telling is so powerful.

So, what’s your story? Ask yourself what messages you are trying to get across to your audience. Is your story authentic and interesting?

All businesses and business owners have a great story. This is the year to tell it, on purpose.

Special to The Globe and Mail

Lisa Ostrikoff is a TV journalist and anchor-turned-creator of BizBOXTV, a Canadian online video production, advertising and social media marketing agency. You can find her on Twitter and Facebook.

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