Tamara McCleary
Tamara McCleary helps keep clients focused on the story behind their brand. “Stories remind us that we are human, we are connected and we all experience deep suffering, as well as rapturous triumph and everything in between,” she says. (tamaramccleary.com photo)

I had the pleasure of meeting Tamara McCleary on my radio show about business, Dot Complicated, and was so impressed by her approach to branding and marketing. I immediately understood why she is such a highly coveted speaker.

That’s why I support this woman’s work.

McCleary is ranked by Klear in the top 1 percent of global social media influencers and was listed as one of the top 50 social influencers of 2015 by Onalytica. The CEO of Thulium presents keynotes and workshops on the topics of branding, brand amplification, social influence, women’s empowerment, marketing to millennials and women, diversity, and social economics in a sharing economy. She is also the creator of the Relationshift method.

Randi Zuckerberg: How can a struggling brand get more attention?

Tamara McCleary: Everyone is competing for attention in the new social economy. The best way for a brand to get more attention in this overcrowded, highly competitive marketplace is to simplify brand messaging while engaging with the theme of the brand’s narrative in two-way conversations on the social media networks.

This means that everyone within the company must be able to elegantly weave the brand narrative along every single customer touch point to mirror consistency of brand messaging.

Engaging through the power of a potent and powerfully connected brand message is irresistibly attractive and showcases a consistency that is rare with … companies today, (many of which) are juggling multiple channels and delivering inconsistent messages.

Consistency builds trust. To truly stand out in today’s socially connected marketplace, a brand must differentiate itself through its level of engagement with customers.

One of the biggest mistakes I see brands making is that they are still stuck using outmoded, linear marketing models that broadcast messages across the social networks rather than blending genuine two-way communication with their audience, highlighting not only their brand messaging but offering authentic conversations.

Whether it’s (business-to-business) marketing or (business-to-consumer) marketing or whether the brand is a startup technology company or a global fashion retailer, it matters not. What today’s savvy enterprises and consumers want is to be engaged with brands that are showing up on scene as authentic, innovative, cutting-edge, disruptive and extraordinarily passionate about what they do.

RZ: What is the best way to craft a compelling story?

TM: The best way to craft a compelling story is to consider the structure of the most compelling myths that have captured our attention and withstood the test of time.

Think about the sheer power of myth over eons. We’re still, even in our modern age, invisibly drawn to the force of a good story. Myths traditionally tell the story of a hero who is presented with a great quest and must overcome immense obstacles to fulfill a destiny.

To write a compelling story, we must follow the power of a well-structured myth. When I am working with a brand to craft a compelling narrative, I utilize the wisdom and work of the late Joseph Campbell and his (concept of the) hero’s journey. The Hero’s Journey gives us a framework for crafting a story that pulls us in.

In fact, George Lucas credits crafting his epic story, Star Wars, using the blueprint found in Campbell’s book, The Hero With a Thousand Faces.

When looking to craft a compelling narrative, seek first to understand who it is that you want to connect with your story. What is important to them? How can you touch them where they suffer? What problems can you solve positioning yourself as the mentor, helper or guide? Cast your customer as the hero, and ask yourself, What quest is the customer on?

The biggest mistake I see when a brand is building its narrative is that the brand is positioning itself from the wrong angle; they are focused on themselves and their fabulous product or service. This doesn’t contain the connected pull that it needs to be a compelling narrative to anyone outside the company.

Brands mistakenly cast themselves in the role of hero, versus casting themselves more appropriately in the role of mentor, helper or guide. As a company, how does your product or service solve a problem for your customer? Customers must be cast as the hero of any story if you want to move them to take action. Whether you are writing a story as a novelist to sell a book or crafting a compelling narrative to sell a product or service, it’s critical to know who you want to move by having shared your story. Why would your audience care? Answer this and you’re on your way!

The most compelling stories move us to take action, whether that be action to buy a book or action to partner with a brand or purchase goods and services. The best stories compel us to do something because they’ve touched us where we live.

We love a compelling story; it’s encoded into our DNA. Stories remind us that we are human, we are connected and we all experience deep suffering, as well as rapturous triumph and everything in between.

Stories remind us that we are not alone.

Randi Zuckerberg is the founder and CEO of Zuckerberg Media, a best-selling author and the host of a SiriusXM weekly tech business show, Randi Zuckerberg Means Business. Follow her on Twitter: @randizuckerberg or connect with her on Facebook. Click here for previous columns. The opinions expressed are her own.