A wise man once said: “Great Marketers don’t make stuff. They make meaning.”
Okay, fine, that wise man was SETH GODIN…………..but you catch my drift.
As marketers, our jobs are about more than just selling more stuff, moving more units, and increasing profit margins.
We tell & sell STORY.
The Oxford Dictionary defines STORY as ‘an account of imaginary or real people and events told for entertainment’ or as ‘a plot or story line’.
Since we were little kids gathered around the campfire listening to ghosts stories or begging dad to read just one more chapter before lights out, we have been captivated with the power of STORY. It delights us. Frightens us. Transports us. Conquers us. Makes our hair stand on edge, raises the hackles on the back of our neck, even makes our toes curl. It keeps us up at night, reading under the covers. Gets us up early, waiting in line for the latest Harry Potter. Makes our lunch hour pass in a minute, sneaking in the latest installment of however many shades of grey.
That’s all great….But what does that have to do with marketing??
4 things, my fine friend.
Did you know that your brain is stimulated in 7 completely different areas when listening to a story? That’s a lot.
Especially when compared to the mere 2 parts of the brain that light up when you recite a list of facts.
It’s true. Check it out:
Well, I know which kickball team I want to get picked for…..
Seriously, the power of emotion in STORY is huge. Do you remember the ending of Titanic? Toy Story? How about Rudy? Romeo and Juliet?
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These emotional stories stay with us because emotion makes us feel connected. It can make a room full of strangers feel like friends. Because they had an emotional experience at the same time, they feel bonded, both to the story and to each other.
Which can be a very good thing, because STORY also creates…
When my brother was young, he was obsessed with this Disney movie from the ’60s called Follow Me Boys. A boyhood drama about a scout leader and his pack, this movie became so exciting for my brother that he refused to wear anything except camo shorts and white v neck Tshirts, dubbed forever afterwards his ‘follow me boys’ shirt. He organized his neighborhood friends to adventure around the neighborhood, digging fox holes, building tents, setting up secret hideouts, you name it.
All in the name of creating action to match the STORY he loved.
Which leads to the third point, STORY creates……
Who among us hasn’t cried at a Hallmark commercial? Or even that holiday commercial from IKEA:
Brutal, am I right? Also, funny. By creating both the emotion of sadness (for the lamp) and humor (because the storytellers caught you being sentimental), IKEA has created something of value worth more than the lamp: they created an audience that not only buys their products but who loves their brand.
Which brings us to the final point on why STORY matters in marketing…..
In our saturated market, what sticks? What do consumers really remember when they go to purchase?
Or let me put it another way,
Do you remember what happened last year on this day? How about two years ago today?
But do you remember when you got your first bike? Or the kind of cake your grandma always made for you when you came to visit?
I’ll bet you do.
Because we remember things that have affected us emotionally significantly longer than anything else.
Okay, great, so what?……How do I tell a STORY??
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is the target audience.
You are telling their story….to them. You are describing their personality and the way they move through the world as if it were happening to them.
It’s kind of like when you tell your little nephew Ben about “Ben the alien robot who loves chicken nuggets and wears a batman cape”. You are telling a STORY that is about your audience as they see themselves or would like to see themselves.
And they have
They have like super important stuff that matters to them. Like buying a house or getting a new computer or impressing their girlfriend or traveling to Thailand.
They have all kinds of stuff that they want all the time. And they can’t get it.
Because there’s an OBSTACLE.
Maybe it’s not a big deal. Maybe they need to pick up their girlfriend at the airport (she just flew in from Thailand, of course) and they get a flat tire.
Oh no! The girlfriend will definitely not be impressed by a late, grumpy boyfriend with ripped clothes pulling up in a car with a flat tire.
That is a problem.
Luckily, our character, the boyfriend has a
to fix the problem.
He is going to call a tow truck.
Or he is going to change to the spare tire.
Or he is going to call his friend to pick up his girlfriend.
Or he is going to abandon the car on the side of the road, hitchhike to the airport, show up breathless and running to meet her as soon as she gets off the plane.
All of these are great ways that the character may try to fix the obstacle standing in his way to get what he wants: a happy girlfriend who thinks her boyfriend is the best.
YES, BUT DOES IT WORK OUT?
That’s the LESSON.
You have to read it to find out.
And by the time you finish, the audience’s all emotional, ready to act, really digging your company, and, boy, do they ever remember how you made them feel.
That, my friend, is marketing GOLD.
Relax, my friend, the ways are endless….
You truly are limited only by the power of your own imagination.
SO…..Will you tell me a STORY?