Tell Me a Story

by Jason Wilson

As a follow-up to last issue’s column called Adverpanicking©, I want to talk more about how important storytelling is to your brand.  Response to advertising comes in two basic forms: intellect and emotion.  The analytic position will often say something like, “Reach the right people to increase your advertising effectiveness.”  While that may be true, to a certain extent, it’s not what ultimately creates a response.  My guess is you’ve likely been reaching the right people all along, but your message just isn’t connecting.

It’s not who you reach; it’s what you say that matters.  Make it count.

If mediocrity is your goal, by all means, blend in.

When an ad campaign fails, it’s easy to blame the radio station for “having the wrong listeners,” the newspaper for “placing it on the wrong page,” or the outdoor company for “the wrong locations.”  Don’t worry, and it’s the natural tendency.  As I’ve said before, the medium is neutral when you have the right message, coupled with great design…so Forget Reach, Think Speech.

Now before all the analysts and strategists in the media community lose their collective minds, I’m not suggesting you shouldn’t do your homework.  Data is important and helpful to the process, but that’s not what consumers see.

The greatest data in the world won’t save bad messaging and poor design.

Some business owners get frustrated with advertising because they too want to make it a science.  They often judge effectiveness incorrectly and have the wrong expectations.  Scientific analysis has given the world many wonderful things, but when it comes to advertising, leave the heavy science out of it.  It’s not a scientific process, and it can’t be explained that way.  Considering that the average consumer is exposed to approximately 5,000 messages each day, I’d say there are plenty of opportunities to reach someone, so let’s focus on how to grab and keep their attention.

Businesses, ask yourself this – Why do you exist? Why should people care? How do they see themselves in your story? The answers to those questions will never be found in a spreadsheet.

Why stories, you ask? Because we’re surrounded by, and consume them in every aspect of our lives. Music, Movies, Books, Vacations, Education, Social Media…you get the idea. From early cave paintings to the latest virtual reality device, we live and experience story telling.

Why should your brand be any different? I love this quote from Seth Godin –

“Marketing is no longer about the stuff that you make, but about the stories you tell.”

Remember from last time – what do you really sell?  Why should it matter? Now go tell a story with the consumer as the main character.

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