“The most powerful person in the world is the storyteller”
A lot has changed since Steve Jobs said this in 1994, but indeed almost all customers and generational truths lie in shared stories.
What Job’s understood better than most, is that the narrative between companies and their customers, the identification between products and people’s view of themselves was the key to marketing personal empowerment.
This is a universal truth, then and even more now.
We need to acknowledge that along with the possibilities of a more personal medium, there are more demands to master it.
I think there is a narrative truth that is more akin to the relationship we have to an episodic storyline than the well encapsulated and closed reality of a film that starts and stops. Or to an image in an ad or gif.
Why does this matter?
Getting the narrative right is one of the most important things that companies do to ensure their market success. A must do.
People simply react to what feels right to them.
No matter how busy or distracted they are, each individual in the market is open to a narrative that connects them to things that matter to them.
To the clothes, they want to buy. The people they want to vote for. The tools to make work better or charities to support. Or the sense of power and hyper-charged chutzpah that pervades the personae in the decentralized world of incentivized networks on the blockchain.
Think about this in relation to your company or even to your ability to communicate more effectively as an individual on your social nets to raise some funds or front a cause.
Each and every individual is open to information or connection around most every decision they have to make. Even those pieces of their lives they don’t know can be better or different.
We just need to get the narrative right and orchestrate how and when we tell it. We need to play the role of being the mouthpiece of what they need or want to hear.
Nontrivial certainly but always where we start.
Building products is hard and a process. But no more I would argue, or more complex than touching individuals we have no prior connection within their very hearts and beliefs to move them to thought or action.
What marketing does, the engine of the narrative process, when done right, is to figure out how to make this possible.
All of us have a huge arsenal of data and networks available to us. Tools and rules of thumb to guide our actions but the soul of the machinery is in what touches people. Otherwise, it is just machination. Just exercise and technique.
I would always rather have my narrative at an emotive and true connecting point than an infinite amount of resources to roll it out. If I can nail that, funding, market connection and community engagement all have a better shot.
What is it that ties this all together?
It’s more than simply a story. Or talking points.
Jobs (so the story goes) was thinking of Disney at the quote at the top of this post.
We, however, need to think of ourselves as the creator and pulse of our own narrative. Forget being the most powerful in the world and think about the right way to touch your own world.
Many of us in marketing were brought up with the corporate communications mantra of vision, mission statement, elevator pitch, one liner, short para on who we are and on and on.
There is value in that exercise but our narrative is not exercise, it is the language we speak in.
This is not getting it perfect, it is getting it true and engaging.
Success is not a pitch, success is touching people who are not looking for you and doing something else. Who you don’t know, who don’t in most cases even know that what you have is something they care about.
This doesn’t come from an image or ad.
It comes from finding the words that speak to the value that someone else needs to hear. Finding someone else’s aha point in a common language.
Ask yourself —
Why someone chooses you or your product over another? Why in the midst of all the noise and distraction, it is possible to connect and touch someone?
How can you from a very cold start create something new in the world that finds its way into a mass market of connection? Not through code, through connection and belief.
Stories are the force that shapes our world.
They are narratives that we have with ourselves and that piece of ourselves in those that should care.
I’m glad to listen.