We tell ourselves truths, lies, and promises every day. In our personal lives. In our professional lives. In the morning. In the evening. No matter the time of the day we are constantly telling ourselves these things, which is where this post comes into play. We wanted to take a moment to speak to all of the marketers who need to recognize the common truth, lie, and promise that they tell themselves on a regular basis, especially when it comes to the storytelling in marketing.
The Digital Marketing Truth: Marketers Tell Stories
We live in a marketing era of short story tellers. No longer do we have the undivided attention of our audiences, instead we must captivate them with stories, which leads us to our first truth: marketers tell stories. Why? For the following reasons:
- A customer doesn’t buy a product, he or she buys a story. The story makes it easier for them to understand the product within the context of their world. The story is easy to share. It can be adjusted, tweaked, or perfected to fit any scenario regardless of the product.
- Marketers tell stories because we all secretly want to believe in the fairy tale. Sure, we might complain about the $20 glass of wine, but thanks to the story of the wine’s journey from simple grape to bottled perfection, we believe that the $20 glass is better than the $9 one. The simple truth is that we want to believe the story because it is in our benefit to do so.
- All great stories are true. By true we mean consistent and authentic. The minute a marketer is inconsistent, the customer will pounce, the story will be revealed as a fake, and just like that we won’t believe that “all the world is made of faith, and trust, and pixie dust” (J. M. Barrie, Peter Pan).
- We (the customer included) relate to stories that appeal to our senses and our love of life. No matter the product or service, we love the truth, promise, and tingling sensation that our senses receive when we hear, read, or see a great story. Marketers have perfected the art of appealing to our senses through any type of media.
- You only have one chance at a first impression. The beauty of storytelling in marketing is that you can take this first impression and turn it into a valuable relationship that perfectly aligns to the expectations and world view of the customer.
The moral of this marketing truth is clear — the story of your product, your service, and your brand must be purposefully told in a way that instantaneously connects with your awaiting customers.
The Email Marketing Lie: Less Is More And More Is Less
The influx of emails that we all receive in our inboxes each day has created a bit of a Tweedledee and Tweedledum scenario. Business owners are often told that less is more when it comes to email marketing. In other words, it is better to send fewer emails that contain valuable information, than it is to send an increased number of low-quality emails to ensure multiple touch points. The complete opposite is also touted in marketing words of wisdom manuscript. And so you see there is truly a bit of a Tweedledee and Tweedledum situation.
The only way to overcome this email marketing lie is to listen to what your marketing data is saying; what your customers are saying; and what business goals you have for the short and long term. Only you can decide the correct email marketing approach by understanding your intended audiences and conducting A/B split tests to determine the correct strategy. Design your email marketing strategy. Measure your campaign results. Ensure that you understand the needs of your intended audience (and put them first). And, break the lie so that you can go back to the marketing truth of telling stories that positively resonate with your customers.
The Marketing Promise: A Story Is Only As Good As The Idea That It Shares
The marketing promise is something that we need to tell ourselves so that our truth remains strong while we avoid the aforementioned lie (and its subsequent pitfalls). If a story is to be believable; if it is to properly encompass all that your product or service has to offer; and if it is to be beloved by its audience then it needs to be about spreading an idea.
Spreading ideas is an important component of business and life in general. Companies are built around ideas. Good marketing content can only thrive if it is based on a shared idea that resonates strongly with the customer. With this in mind, customers want to create and believe their stories. What does this mean? It means that in addition to telling a story, marketers must give customers a chance to create, believe, and tell their own version of the story. The latter action can only occur via a shared idea that subtly shows you understand what the customer wants or needs most.
Storytelling in Marketing: Embrace The Truth. Avoid The Lie. Uphold The Promise.
By embracing the truth that marketers tell stories you can better connect with your intended audience. By avoiding the lie that “less is more and more is less,” you can create a path that is customized to the specific needs of your audience and customers. By upholding the promise, you can more successfully tell the stories that your customers want to hear, while simultaneously giving them the power they need to create, believe, and share the common stories of your products, services, and brand. In short, embrace the truth, avoid the lie, and uphold the promise if you want to achieve marketing success.