Intel Inside & Storytelling

Remember Intel Inside? Back in the day, when the first personal computers were being marketed, there was the little icon sticker, now iconic, on the screen that said, “Intel Inside.”

No consumer really knew what the heck that meant, but it sure as heck was a status symbol and every computer had to have it to work. Call that absolutely smart branding.

In Chief Content Officer, a supplement in B-to-B Magazine, Joe Pulizzi spoke with Pam Didner, Intel’s global integrated marketing manager. I am intrigued by several statements Pam made in this piece, and I’d like to share with you:

“Content marketing is everything we do on the B2B front.”  When it comes to consumers, Intel calls it “experience marketing — putting customers in the center and telling a story to which customers can connect emotionally.”

Think a minute. Intel is all about the insides of processors, computer chips, hardware components and other gizmos and widgets (that’s not a side-bar blogging app!). Consumers could care less, but the Fortune company has to make consumers care, and they do it by storytelling.

Case in point, here’s what Pam also said:

“Intel is an amazing brand. Our hero product, the microprocessor, presents us with a marketing challenge because our consumers cannot see it, smell it or touch it. We need to continue to find innovative ways to build brand relevance with consumers.”

(I am just sayin’ right now #storytelling has taken on new leafs; it is a hot trending topic right now on the interwebz…have you seen it on all the blogs again?)

Think 2. Could you imagine being on a marketing or PR team for a company that has a “hero product” no one can get sensitized to? By the way, I love that term, “hero product.” What that requires is the utmost in creativity and innovation.

Here’s one cool way Intel has adopted that innovative spirit:

The Museum of Me uses Facebook photos and video to create a museum or art gallery all about you/me. In its test pilot in late May, there were 36 “likes” in five minutes of launch. After five days, there were 1 million hits, and Intel’s global marketing/products teams had no idea it would take the world by storm.

How can we adopt some of Intel’s creativity and innovation into our own business objectives?

In a service business like many of us have, we have a marketing challenge much like Intel; our “hero product” happens to be our intellect and creative deliverables. No one can touch that, taste it or squeeze it (think Charmin) prior to purchase.

We have to be creative in how we set up our brand and show our “Intel Inside” to make customers’ lives improve. I’ll offer a few ways I think that’s possible, and then perhaps you might add yours:

  • Blog creatively with new and fresh ideas. There is so much inspiration you can take from reading anything and everything. In fact, you need a pen and paper to jot down ideas as you’re speaking with people because if you open your mind, they will come fast and furious; promise.
  • Design yourself and company with pizzazz. Yes, there are templates galore available to fashion into a blog or website, but go the extra mile and have someone tweak and customize it to make it yours.
  • Always be smart when posting anything anywhere. If your barrier goes down and you cut loose, know that your image is at risk. It’s easy to do — let down the walls as you feel so comfortable and forget the whole world is watching.

None of these thoughts are fresh or innovative, but when I put them side by side to Intel’s challenge with its hero product, it makes sense to me to reiterate the basics lest we forget our boundaries and get sloppy along the way.

What’s your story?



Tell Your Story First

One of my favorite business publications is Fast Company. I devoured the October 2010 issue and amassed various tear sheets for the to-blog-about pile one of which was “Not So Slick.” This story in the section “NEXT Social Media” is about the BP tweep imposter @BPGlobalPR who took the Twitterosphere for a ride poking fun at BP for its handling and mismanagement of the oil spill crisis.

Leroy Stick, a comedy writer, seized an opportunity to create an outlet for the public’s wrath, launched the faux BP Twitter account and off to the races. As of this writing, Leroy has 186,590 followers with only 493 tweets and 8,148 listed. In the scheme of tweeting, that’s not a ton of content delivery; but, listed on 8K+? That is amazing.

The real corporate account @bp_america, “languished at a tenth of that,” according to Fast Company.

So, what’s the lesson for the day?

Companies cannot control their brand in the age of social media i.e. word-of-mouth marketing, Facebook and Twitter et al.

When you think about the magnitude of that statement, it’s frightening. We’ve seen so many examples of corporations lost in the throes of a defensive game on social media that more often than not has failed.

I’ve written about these stories relating to Nestle, Pampers, Sun Chips, Gap, and BP. Soon after I began to engage on Twitter, Dominos debacle had just occurred (when two pizza makers jokingly blew their noses in the cheese pie captured on video). Watching the corporate giants struggle with word of mouth and social media may bring some laughs, but this hits close to home for any company attempting to promote brand awareness online.

When a brand touches millions of people, there’s no doubt the lightening speed of the Ethernet is uncontrollable. How can a company attempt to control its brand if a crisis erupts?

  • First things first…prior to a crisis, marketing public relations needs to make everything tight – messaging, stories, training of spokespeople, collateral, websites, social networking sites, and regular engagement on social media, etc.
  • In the can should be approved corporate messages that senior leadership can dust off and easily update in the event that social media is the impetus behind the storm.
  • There needs to be a highly strategic social media team in place who can call the shots on the fly 24/7 across all time zones.
  • A pre-approved team of spokespeople need to have the media training to address all types of media at any time of the day; this means bloggers, Twitter chats, Facebookers, LinkedIn groups, and traditional media, too.
  • Accessibility is so critical during a crisis; the more the doors remain closed the more others win an offensive posture. So, be accessible to at least control the message and attempt to manage the brand at the same time. 

I don’t have all the answers; apparently, no one does. Sustainability expert Joel Makower, executive editor of said it well in Fast Company, “It really comes down to storytelling—if you don’t tell your story well, someone else will tell it for you.”

Storytelling and Dolls

Photo by Jamie Chung, Fast Company

A story in the April Fast Company has me thinking three ways:

When Mattel’s Barbie celebrated her 40th birthday, and my colleague and I represented the American College of Foot & Ankle Surgeons as its public relations firm for three years, the opportunity was too good to pass up.

My idea was to issue a press release on PR Newswire blasting Barbie for still wearing high heels every day through her fourth decade. The podiatric surgeons were none too pleased the media preferred to invite comments about Barbie’s footgear over their technologically advanced titanium implants.

Because my daughter was an early adopter of all things Bratz (those too sexy dolls that rivaled Barbie), and I followed progress of the legal battle between the two companies for intellectual property rights (Mattel won), I was eager to learn more about the new Liv dolls by Spin Master Toys.

I tore the Fast Company story for future reference. Upon a second glance at the headline, I was struck — “Watch Your Back, Barbie!!! How Spin Master Toys created the hit Liv dolls, a thoroughly modern marriage of tech, storytelling and 21st-century marketing that has industry giant Mattel looking over its shoulder.” (And, that’s just the headline.)

Storytelling! Forget about Barbie’s high heels and Bratz. Storytelling!

Spin Master Toys offers a perfect example of the role storytelling plays in brand development prior to product launch.

The new team hired by Spin Master developed a narrative for the four dolls in the collection BEFORE the dolls had a name. The team created an imaginary high school, and characteristics for each girl doll were inspired from teen behavior observed at surf shops, malls and frozen yogurt stands. Diversity was added to the story (rather than just in the skin tone and facial features of the dolls themselves) which directly aligned with toy industry trends about how little girls play. The back story for each Liv doll was a critical component of the go-to-market strategy.

Enter media relations.

With storytelling on the marketing and brand side of things aimed at the end user, public relations can pick up and add that rich flavor to content we develop to tell a story to a middle gatekeeper of news (in essence, we’re selling the story with a pitch).

Seeing this reference to storytelling prominently in the headline of a major business publication is a thoughtful exercise in looking at products differently. While public relations may not engage in consumer storytelling when pitching the media, you can bet we will engage in consumer storytelling within the realm of social media.

What examples might you have about how storytelling impacted a product launch, media relations situation, or social media opportunity? While you’re thinking, I’m going to take another look at Liv dolls at Target today.

Brands Need Storytelling

Remember when you sat at Grandma’s feet and she told you stories about the Great Depression, or what it was like to be the biggest Irish clan with 13 kids? Perhaps your stories aren’t like those, but you can relate with a few you’ve heard or have told.

I promised to recant the richness of my discussion as a gift for Gregg Morris, a Twitter pal with whom I only recently made verbal connection yet trust was established long ago on Twitter in 140. (Watch for new posts on earning trust.)

Gregg makes it his business to uncover the stories that make brands come alive with history, human memories, and a piece of friendly relevance. He’s a storytellin’ guy, and that’s where he’s building his business these days – looking back through time to pull what’s relevant for today’s modern consumers and brands.

Gregg says brands are out of touch with their customers because product stories are missing. In thinking about this, mass merchandising and the Internet have made brand loyalty non-existent. To push a buy decision, there’s less or zero focus on a product’s historical significance and an emphasis on “Made in America” (for example) to combat global merchandising and manufacturing. If companies took that “Made in America” platform and threaded the back story through the product, imagine the richness of the result.

Gregg shared some fascinating thoughts with me, and I’d like to invite you into the loop, too:

  • People inside businesses today are so close to their product crafting a customer story becomes difficult for most.
  • The definition of a story is “a character moving through a series of events toward resolution.”
  • When a company has a product and/or service, a story needs to be told around customers. Customers need to know how a company’s product provides resolution. The better the story, the more enhanced customers’ loyalty.
  • Who is your target audience? Don’t kid yourself; it’s not everyone! When companies zero in on a target audience, only then can they begin to craft a story that resonates with the audiences’ persona.
  • Stories have become lost. Think of a product in your house. Is there one with a story that drove your buy decision? Can you relate to the brand’s back story that keeps you engaged? (When I see Clydesdale horses, I still think of beer. The irony is I got the brand wrong, and Gregg corrected me! That story was told over and over during holidays when I was a kid; saw it on TV. Where is that story now? That taste of Americana resonated with many people, and now it’s lost and ignored in an archive.)
  • It’s trust that’s earned when real stories are told. Gregg informed me businesses have an opportunity to retell their robust histories with stories that live dreams.
  • Storytelling is necessary for the small business. (I love the potential of this statement for SMBs.) The dry cleaner that competes with the same service provider around the corner and up the street must differentiate. Ever walk into a dry cleaner to be greeted by the proprietor who rarely speaks English and wonder about his/her story? You can guarantee there’s a significant one waiting to be told which may tug at the emotional/personal enough to make a customer brand loyal. But, that story is not getting told.

Gregg gave me much food for thought (another analogy for the SMBs, Goldfish & Social Media post). I’m hopeful your interest is piqued enough to let the pondering begin!  If you’re struggling to tap your story, I know just the right guy to help… .

(Image credit courtesy of