The 3 Things This Esurance Ad Will Teach You About Brand Storytelling

An online ad for Esurance caught my attention and got me thinking about brand storytelling.

This commercial perfectly balances good storytelling structure, a simple brand promise, and the perspective of Esurance’s ideal buyer:

Here’s how to apply these 3 elements of brand storytelling to your content:

1) Your content should have an arc and relatable characters, like good fiction

In brand storytelling, your reader relates to and often actually is the character. Of course, the most compelling character in this ad is a thinly-veiled reference to this infamously inarticulate Miss Teen USA contestant.

Miss Teen USA South Carolina

But the compelling character (“sorta Marge”) is not who Esurance wants you to relate to. Rather, this ad implies that you are the protagonist – you’re “real Marge.”

The story arc in this ad is simple: a foreman on a construction site searches for Marge and finds another, less competent version of Marge operating heavy machinery. This is a great outline for brand storytellers: a character’s routine is disrupted by a high-stakes problem the solution to which is your company’s product or service.

A story arc should be easily repeatable structure for future content.  No doubt, we’ll see more Esurance ads in which incompetent imposters make a mess of various high-stakes workplaces.

2) Your content should fulfill your brand promise

As mentioned, this ad’s story arc presents a high-stakes problem that disrupts the protagonist’s routine. It does not present a universal problem, such as “not having insurance” but focuses on one that a select demographic faces. The solution to your specific problem constitutes your brand promise. Esurance solves the “one-sized-fits-all insurance” problem with the promise that their product is customizable.

Coming up with a brand promise is easier when you know your customer. Which leads me to the last element of your brand’s story:

3) Your content should speak to your brand’s buyer persona(s)

You can easily create a brand promise and a story that fulfills it, by drawing up a detailed buyer persona.

Esurance created a brand promise that seems to appeal to first-time insurance buyers with unique employment or finance needs. The irreverent, referential tone of the ad screams millenial, so I’d guess that the persona this ad targets is a young person looking for one-on-one insurance guidance. 

This ad resonated with me and many other viewers because it solved a common problem for viewers like me in an entertaining way.

What kinds of branded content sticks with you? Tell me in the comments!

When to post on social media

When to Post on Social Media: “The Burrito Principle”

If a campaign launches in the Twitterverse, does it make a sound? Even the most dynamic content can get lost in the ether when social media managers don’t post at optimal times. The data varies and sometimes contradicts itself, so how can you post at the right time for your audience?

A common sense approach proposed by Darian Rodriguez Heyman – “The Burrito Principle” – may help you reach your audience when they have down time. My favorite social app, Buffer created an excellent graphic that lays out optimal posting periods:

The Burrito Principle for Posting on Social Media

Of course, these times may vary based on your brand’s target demographic. Your best bet is to create a marketing persona for each potential segment of your audience, and then estimate when each of those personas is likely to have down time.

When does your company or employer usually post on social media? 

Market Artfully: How to Create Marketing Personas

Market Artfully: How to Create Marketing Personas

A marketing persona helps you turn the rough sketch you have of your customer into a vivid, life-like portrait.

We all know that a well-constructed landing page leads to better conversion rates. However, landing pages aren’t one size fits all! A CTA or special offer can snag one customer, but be completely lost on another. To lead a customer through the sales funnel effectively, you must learn their goals, concerns, and habits by creating marketing personas. A marketing persona helps you turn the rough sketch you have of your customer into a vivid, life-like portrait.

A persona includes details based on data, customer interviews, and competitive analysis. These details are then used to guide every aspect of your inbound marketing, at every level of the sales funnel: from ads, to landing pages, to web content and drip email campaigns.

A good persona outlines demographic details such as age, gender, income, and location, as well as professional ones, like job title/responsibilities, career goals, and pain points. Depending on the product or service you’re selling, you can also explore a persona’s more personal details such as relationship status, personal goals, or consumption habits.

Since social media and online metrics offer endless data mining opportunities, creating a persona can seem daunting. But the more complex your personas, the better you’ll know your potential customers and the more effective you’ll be in both marketing and sales. By creating personas, you position your brand to better for solve your customer’s problems and/or meet their goals.

For example, if that fake chair company I mentioned in my Ad Group Management post, looked through its Google Analytics demographics & interests reports, the company may discover that its typical customer is a middle aged, high-income homeowner who rarely shops online. If the chair company decided to send out a questionnaire to its mailing list, it may also reveal that a typical customer also owns a summer home and enjoys vacationing on Lake Ontario.

With these details, our chair company can now create a vivid portrait of an ideal customer – let’s call her Linda. The chair company might assume she’s looking for a super sturdy Muskoka chair. With the details of her persona, the company is able to create relevant ads that reach Linda as she’s searching for Muskoka chairs. The persona will also help the company optimize any landing pages associated with Muskoka chair ads, so that Linda – as a middle-aged person with little online shopping experience – will find it easy navigate. After all, she and customers like her would get frustrated by a landing page without good search features, or one that makes me scroll through cheap plastic lawn furniture to find the perfect Muskoka chair.

Below is a great persona template, courtesy of Buffer:

Sample Marketing Persona Template

Have you ever created a marketing persona? Tell your story in the comments section!