Connect With Your Audience Through Storytelling With Carl Reed at #MDMC18

Carl Reed is the Co-Founder and Chief Creative Officer of Lion Forge Comics – a leading comic publisher, which produces products for all ages. During his more than 15-year old career as a seasoned creative he has worked with for such companies as Disney, Fox, DreamWorks, NBC Universal, Nickelodeon, MTV, Cartoon Network and many others.

At his session at MDMC18“Visual Storytelling: Creating A True Connection With Your Content”, Carl is going to share his insights on how to create highly entertaining content to connect with an audience, which will help to establish more personal, engaging and emotional bonds with customers.
To learn more about Carl, we sat down together for a short pre-conference Q&A session. Here are some of his answers.
Q1. What are some big mistakes a business could make when it comes to digital marketing?
C.R. Discounting the role of engaging content in their overall marketing plans.  With digital marketing, it is very easy to lose a personal connection to your audience and become another banner ad targeted to chase people all over the web.  Form a deep connection and potential clients will seek you out.
Q2. What do you think is the next game changer in digital marketing, such as a new, modern tactic, tool, or aspect of marketing? How will it evolve in the coming years?
C.R. Animation, Comics, and Gaming.  I believe in this so much that I have dedicated all of my activities toward it.  No other media has the VERBATIM retention that a comic book has, the engagement factor of an animated video, or the enthralling interactivity of a narrative-driven game.  

Over the span of the next 5 years or so, you will see the leaders of the digital landscape become identified by their content created not to sell their product, but to build and maintain their tribe.  Once they have carved out their audience of loyal followers, one facet of the lifestyle is the product or service.
Q3. What is your favorite marketing book you have read lately? Or, what are a few of your favorite marketing blogs?
C.R. UnBranding: 100 Branding Lessons for the Age of Disruption.  The shift will be drastic toward content fully powered by corporate dollars, but the winners and losers of the new economy that emerges will be apparent.
Q4. What are some social media time management tips that help you stick to your campaign goals without losing a lot of time?
C.R. I have a tendency to dive “down the rabbit hole” of communities across the internet that I would never have had access to or even the knowledge that they exist.  There are truly a ton of opportunities for companies to become a part of these communities in a meaningful way and convert that directly into revenue.
Q5. Share your favorite digital marketing case study. What did you like most it?
C.R. At the end of 2016 we created a holiday animated video for the St. Louis Magic House to inform their audience of their status as a non-profit, as well as increase their individual donors.  The results were better than expected (Xmas 2016 individual donors increased more than 100%).   

A second version was then created using the same animated elements to make something more evergreen, which the Magic House has used all year long.
Q6. According to you, what are the top three mistakes committed by organizations today in leveraging digital marketing?

  1. Misallocation of resources – Traditional marking makes up the brunt of most marketer’s toolkit, but how would the results change if the amounts allocated toward web, ad spends, or content were shifted?  This needs to change constantly.
  2. Master of None — Companies often have too broad of an audience focus for a campaign.  Narrowing the audience allows one to form a deeper, more honed connection to a persona, potentially gaining true “fans” in addition to customers.
  3. Ads vs Content — Bob Ross did every episode of “The Joy of Painting” for free.  He didn’t take one paycheck.  He did, however, mention his product line every once in a while.  Budding painters everywhere looked for products from a person they trusted; one that didn’t even try to force a sale.  This is the power of content.  You give value at every step of the buyer’s journey — even before the prospect knows that they are a buyer.  That is the power of content.  

Q7. Which are your three favorite digital marketing tools?
Animated Videos
Comic Books
Q8. If you were looking to hire a digital marketer, what are the top 3-5 skills you would be looking for in a candidate?
C.R. Coachability, Fandom (intense like for a genre of content), analytical nature
Q9. What’s the industry buzzword that annoys you the most these days and why?
C.R. Storytelling — My entire company is focused on storytelling, so this does not seem obvious.  Now, folks consider the color of the buttons on their homepage part of a story, which makes light of the true, emotion-wrenching, edge-of-your-seat stories that we craft daily.  We like nice images and buttons, but a button will not make you cry on demand.  

Storytelling is more than just beginning, middle, and end as well. A well-crafted story lives beyond its medium and can, literally, reshape the world into one that the author envisions.