15 Apr What’s Your Story?
― John Berger, Keeping a Rendezvous
The above quote reminds me of how we think of a brand or product in the world of marketing and public relations. Story telling is probably the oldest art form that exists since the earliest men walked our earth and drew pictures of their lives on cave walls. But story telling has never been as important as it is today because of the global digital economy.
As a marketing student I had learned that understanding Maslow’s Hierarchy of Human Needs was integral to marketing strategies. According to Maslow’s theory, humans behave and make decisions based on one of the five need motivators in their hierarchy. In marketing, one’s ability to effectively appeal to one of these motivational levels is a key determinant of the potential success of a brand or product. The digital world may have caused the ranking of these levels to be re-examined, but the fact remains that each of these 5 levels is an influencer for your product, and therefore it is critical that the story of your product addresses at least one of the needs in this hierarchy. The best way you can connect with your customers is if you directly appeal to their needs in a way that is meaningful and relevant to them, and this is where a great story comes in handy.
We all like stories. We like reading them, we like listening to them, we like watching them, and we like writing them, in some cases. Stories are representations of ourselves and our reality which is depicted in a way that commands an almost visceral response from us, at times. As such, it goes without saying that your product or brand should tell a story that has an immediate positive connection with your customer and impacts their lives in a way that creates an emotional bond between your product and your customer. The story that your brand tells acts as a sort of super glue that binds your customers and creates shared experiences that are unique only to the usage of your product. We all know how important social media has made it to be “shared” and “liked”, and that’s exactly what a story enables.
A story has a purposeful trajectory. It follows a string of events that creates a narrative and allows us to organize and store information. It creates meaning, and we as humans are constantly looking for meaning. There are a lot of brands out there that still do not comprehend the importance of narrating their core story. It could be because they don’t have one, or they have not taken the time to define their story well, or because they are not telling their story effectively in a way that warms the hearts of prospective customers or creates advocates of existing clients. The days of “spray and pray” marketing tactics are well over. Marketing efforts are now focused on one-one-many, and as such the power of story telling has become more potent. Even though consumers are constantly aware of the fact that you are trying to make them buy something, the more genuine your marketing message is, the stronger the emotional attachment will be to your product.
It’s like watching a romantic comedy, for me. I know that it’s a movie, and its scripted, and it’s rehearsed a million times, and the emotions are being portrayed by actors. But when I laugh or cry with the actors, I am feeling a genuine emotion that the actor has successfully conveyed to me through the story he or she tells or depicts. The story creates a bond between me and the actors that encourages me to recommend it to others.
This article brings home the point that “results repeatedly show that our attitudes, fears, hopes, and values are strongly influenced by story.” In the global marketplace of ideas and a-dozen-a-minute-brands, its all about content, and how we sell it. Your content is your product, your brand. How you create your content and tell the story of your brand, will have a direct impact on how you sell your products.
by: Sohini Bhattacharya (Co-Founder & Partner, Allegoro Communications)
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