Think about the last time you were moved by a commercial. Or, to the brave ones, think about the last commercial you teared up at. For most of us, we can instantly bring a particular moment back to our minds. Whether it's about a Thai Truemove beggar-turned-doctor, or the 2015 Super Bowl Budweiser "Lost Puppy" commercial, we all have that one ad that speaks to our emotions.

There is an important principle to be seen within these types of ad campaigns. Not only are these campaigns mixing marketing and media, but there's been a huge shift in how companies are starting understand, analyze and connect with their audiences. Frankly, it's fundamental to how businesses operate today.

Storytelling has been an "on and off" marketing buzzword since advertising became an integral part of business. A simple search online reflects a plethora of results on how everyone has some sort of story to share. And, perhaps, every business, every person, does have one. The key is knowing what is good and what is best. Storytelling is a timeless skill that goes far beyond stringing good slogans together or shooting a TV commercial. Storytelling is about curating content to create a need-based image for your product, reinforcing your brand's mission and connecting your consumers to said mission. Now more than ever, businesses, workers, and leaders have opportunities to stand out, spread messages, and make change through storytelling.

"The content strategy is really driven based upon that storytelling." Says Paul Salay, CCO of Cision, a global media intelligence company. "We like to tell stories of how clients get value. We also like to tell stories that stretch our clients to think differently about how they're doing the job they're doing today." Companies are not building something that the client needs today. It may sound like an odd concept, but not all marketing campaigns are designed for instant results. Companies are starting to building something that consumers will be using in 2-3 years. With more and more companies beginning to blur marketing and media channels, the wide collection of information gathered about consumers ultimately lends itself to prolonged advertising.

Company content strategies are helping develop stories to create needs for consumers, to bridge a mental gap from what consumers are buying today to what they need in the future. The best kinds of stories understand, firstly, who their audience is before creating the content. You have to have a different story for different levels of audiences.

Consumers access information differently. Traditional media sends a very different message and is constructed to tell a certain story compared to digital marketing. Salay continues, "When I hear something or see something, I am immediately validated through my technology. And when I don't see a cohesive approach, across all those channels, [it] really caused angst for me." Salay says that his content strategy attempts to streamline it's themes throughout multiple channels since an audience has many forms of access to it. Although a story visually may look different on different devices, the story stays the same.

Reinforcing your brand through multiple channels is an evolution, not a revolution. Using traditional media should reinforce the story told on the ever-developing social media outlets. It should amplify consumer connection. To the consumer it may seem simple and flawless, though every good marketing team understands that the need to know the "Y" first is crucial to success.

If you don't have thought leadership that helps your clients or your consumers think differently about your product, your solutions, or mission, you're expecting them to make that leap on their own. Maybe they'll get there, maybe they won't. But to take the time and to think about where you want your business to go in the future allows companies to really engage with their clients, to give them prescriptive of what to do better today, in hopes of a better future.

When you're thinking about what your consumer is thinking about, it's about providing additional value back to the consumer and what they do today, while having them think differently and challenges them. It is a marketing glue that holds a story together in reinforcing brand values and sharing them in creative outlets.

Published on: Jan 26, 2016
The opinions expressed here by Inc.com columnists are their own, not those of Inc.com.