Stories help us connect with people, cutting through the clutter and noise.
- true, trusted, authentic, subtle;
- they appeal to the emotion, instead of the logic and;
- resonate with the world view of the intended audience.
While travelling in Argentina in 2006, Blake Mycoskie saw the hardships faced by children growing up without shoes. He desperately wanted to help, and created Toms Shoes, a company that would match every pair of shoes they sold with a new pair of shoes for a child in need. To date, Toms has given more than 60 million pairs of shoes to children in need. They’ve also helped restore sight to over 400,000 people, through their sunglasses which come with the same buy one give one offer.
When Victor Kiam’s wife bought him an Remington electric shaver, he trusted in the product so much that he bought the company.
During the Bangladesh famine of 1974 Muhammad Yunus a Bangladeshi academic, made a small loan of US$27 to a group of 42 families as start-up money so that they could make items for sale, without the burdens of the high-interest rates charged by predatory money lenders. That small loan was started what is today the Grameen Bank has lent more than $5 Billion dollars and helped hundreds of thousands of people out of poverty.
These are three great examples of brand stories, which in many ways have defined the businesses.
At Rethink Marketing we work with small businesses to help them craft and tell their stories because stories are without a doubt the most powerful way we can engage with the humans we call customers. Their story is the foundations on which we build their marketing strategy.
Great stories cut through the clutter and noise of our world, and change the way we see it. They are so much more than a sales pitch, they connect with us on a deep level and build trust, credibility and eventually a relationship.
A great story is always true. Not necessarily because it’s factual, but because it’s consistent and authentic. As Australians, we are unbelievably good at sniffing out bulls@#$. The small inconsistencies that a marketer can slap on, the stock images used instead of real people all trigger our BS detectors causing us to ask the question “can I trust this business”?
Great stories are trusted. Have you ever considered that trust is the scarcest resource we’ve got? No one trusts anyone. People don’t trust the stunning Instagram influencer posting her “best life” in a five-star resort all to her followers…clearly, she’s being paid by the resort for a sponsored post. We don’t trust the spokesperson on commercials, have you noticed that the Brand Power Infomercial is dead? And we don’t trust the companies that make the products we use in our everyday life, hands up if you believe Telstra when they tell you that mobile phones don’t cause cancer. All this means that as businesses our story won’t be heard until we’ve earned the credibility to tell it.
Great stories are subtle. Imagine two people telling you their stories about how they survived a shark attack. One is lying. The first storyteller provides all the gory details, the rescue scenario, the treatment they received, their vital statistics and recovery and so on. The other simply tells you, ”Yep, it was a big fish, took one bite then realised I didn’t taste so good”. The difference is that the second storyteller was a double amputee. Now, who would you believe? Surprisingly, the fewer details we spell out, the more powerful the story becomes. Allowing people to fill in the gaps is far more effective than announcing the punch line. Substance wins over content every time.
Great stories don’t necessarily appeal to logic, but they always appeal to our emotions. People decide if they like someone or something after just a sniff. There are no second chances to make a first impression
Most of all, great stories match the way we see the world. The best stories don’t teach us anything new. Instead, they reinforce what we already believe and making us feel smarter and more secure we’re reminded how right we Were in the first place.
We are all marketers, of our businesses, our skills, our values. We all tell stories. So next time you go to share your story, take a step back and ask, is it authentic, is it credible, is it subtle and does it match the way your audience sees the world? When we get these things right, a great story can change the world.
Want to lear more about story telling in marketing? Check out Seth Godin’s brilliant book All Marketers are Liars