People Buy Stories, Not Products
Don’t you just hate it when you feel like you’re being sold to? I know I do. When I really sit down and think about it, I cannot really remember the last time when a certain ad didn’t make me feel nauseous.
Every year, no matter how we think the marketing industry has evolved (thanks to the Internet), we still come in situations where specific advertisements make us immediately stop what we’re doing, only to look at them again and say out loud: “Really? This unimaginative garbage? In 2015? Come on…”
Although a lot of brands out there are strongly focused on getting more and more conversions and traffic from their ads and marketing campaigns to their websites, they constantly fail to reach their goals. Why? — Well, I think it’s because they don’t really get that these days, if you’re interested in owning a certain niche online or getting more quality customers, you cannot just push generic advertisements on your leads and expect them to convert. No, you need to engage them on all sorts of different levels. You need to educate, motivate and excite people about your work and your activities. You cannot expect them to click on your ads just because they’re in front of their eyes.
The main purpose of any ad or marketing campaign is to make a certain targeted consumer at least think about the product in a good way. If he or she isn’t quite ready to convert, then making a positive impression should be one of your priorities here.
In order to stimulate someone to acknowledge your ad and your efforts, you really need to think about how you’re gonna present your brand and product to your desired audience.
I don’t know about you, but when I shop, I like to browse around and look at all sorts of different options before I make a decision to go with a certain brand or product. When I stumble upon an ad that seems interesting to me (which is quite rare), I immediately start to investigate the company that stands behind it. I start to look for it on all sorts of different channels, hoping I’ll learn about the people behind the brand. If the search results turn out as disappointing, if the online presence of this particular brand seems outdated and poor to me, I instantly abandon ship and look for another company to do business with.
You might wonder where’s the logic in this. If so, let me break it down for you.
To encourage people like me to do business with you, you have to give us something more than just discounts and special offers. You need to rise above your products and services and help us identify your brand as something more than just another company.
God knows the competition is insane in every market today. Anything I need, I can get from 50 different firms at any waking moment. Wherever you turn, you see companies going head to head for all sorts of different clients.
In order to stay competitive and relevant in today’s world, you have to create a customer-centric marketing plan for your business that has the power to build and secure relationships with your target market. One of the best ways on how you can do that is by producing content that tells the story of your brand.
It doesn’t matter what you sell or in what kind of line of work you’re into, you’re always dealing with people. Whether you run a B2B or a B2C operation, establishing real relationships with real people should be the no.1 priority on your list.
As a person who has stellar experience with online and offline marketing, I can tell you right here and now that most people don’t buy products or services — they buy brands. They’re more interested in the story behind the brand name, than the product itself. It’s true.
Why? — Well, because stories provide context. They convey messages, purpose and emotions as well. Like Jonathan Gottschall, a very famous marketer, once said: “A story is a trick for sneaking a message into the fortified citadel of a human mind.”
Human-to-human connections are the heart and soul in doing any type of business. Whether you’re selling cleaning supplies, hardware, software, marketing services or firewood, you’re always dealing with people. You cannot sell your products or services to dogs, cats, bears or dolphins. Yes, you can sell products for dogs, but only to humans. You’ll never see a cute puppy walk into your store and chose a squeaky toy for himself (yeah, I know, this does sound awesome, but, let’s be honest, it’s not quite likely to happen).
That is why it’s so important to get to know your consumers, figure out what they want, what challenges they’re facing on daily, weekly and monthly basis, and design your brand as a problem-solving entity that alleviates pain points and provides delightful customer experiences.
I see Adidas as a great example of a brand with a story that speaks to its consumers. Being the third most valuable sports brand in the world (according to Forbes), unlike its direct competitors, I see Adidas as a brand that has a soul. When asked to describe Adidas as a brand, the words that immediately come to my mind are: Honest, Passionate, Innovative, Unique andCommitted. For me, these five words truly capture the essence of Adidas.
As a first genuine brand that was founded by a real athlete whose goal was to create equipment that really helps athletes be better, I think that Adidas grew into a real symbol of hard work, professional and dedication in the sports world. Only real “heroes” wear Adidas, and I think that’s something that transcends sports and applies to almost everyone who has ever given their 110% to achieve something great.
Guided by the insane success of Adidas, I came to an understanding that you must focus on the following tips in order to create a great story that engages consumers and connect them to your name emotionally by integrating brand storytelling with modern content marketing practices:
When it comes to brand storytelling, it of crucial importance that you stay completely honest with your audience. Building relationships on lies is dangerous in business, and in life as well. It’s better to be small and modest, than big and full of air.
Although it’s wise to keep things real and transparent, that doesn’t necessarily mean that you should hold back on your creativity. Don’t be scared to experiment with your content and tell stories that reflect on your future desires. Just be sure that your core values and messages are always presented in a straightforward and consistent manner.
Define Your Intentions
Although people love seeing things as whole, they also love seeing them get built. They love being part of the process. It helps them better relate to things. A lot of brands make the mistake of talking about how good their company and products really are, without ever mentioning their origins.
Talk about your flaws and your struggle, things that make you interesting and human. No one is interested in something that’s perfect on all sides. Those things are boring. They have no character.
Just look at the movie industry. Everyone knows the story behind the movie Apocalypse Now and just how challenging it really was to make it. People love seeing those behind the scene clips and hearing all sorts of things that take place behind the curtain. Every single cinephile on this planet loves reading about all sorts of casting and production news concerning a certain project that is still under development. Sharing all sorts of origin stories builds up hype within your circles and helps your audience become part of the entire process, and thus — more emotionally involved and pumped up about your work.
Don’t be shy to share with your people all the problems and complicated scenarios you had to face from day 1 ‘till now.
Make it About People, Not Products
Even though your primary goal is to sell as much products as possible, it’s important to know that they’re just tools, and thus, people won’t relate to them. They’re far less interesting than the person behind them. Your potential customers and brand ambassadors want to know who’s the guy behind this great product, what he likes, what he dislike, how did he come up with the concept for this particular asset and how long it took him to make it whole and ready for distribution.
By humanizing your brand and illustrating how a certain person or team overcame specific obstacles, you’re creating a vulnerable, but persistent character that will connect with your audience and interest them to follow up on your stories just to stay up to date with its “evolution”.
Let Your Customers Participate As Well
If you want to establish credibility, you need to get other people to participate in your story as well. It’s not enough just to write about how great your are. You need some real data to back up your words. Testimonials and case studies are a great way to showcase how certain people benefit from your tools, activities and expertise.
I think Facebook is a great example on how to make your consumers part of your story. Mark and his fellow employees just made a video on 27th August to celebrate “connecting” one billion users in a single day in which they shared frames of all sorts of different user profiles and FB activities that have become common in our lives. It’s an amazing milestone that speaks wonders about his brand. This sort of thing illustrates their “connecting people” message on a high-level while keeping granular perspective on all the tiny individual stories that make Facebook what it is today.
Both of these elements play an important role in the greater story of how Facebook actually connects people, even though it might not seem so in the eyes of a couple people.
Remember, it doesn’t matter what you do or what you sell, a lot of your users have compelling stories to tell. If you have built a meaningful, long-term relationship with them, then you probably already know their story.
A large percentage of your users will be more than happy to share their stories as long as you don’t reveal confidential information. By giving them space to participate in your story, not only are you helping your client build their authority, but you are also inspiring your customers and readers. There are several ways to tell your client’s story.
The very best thing about it is that when potential clients read your content, they learn from your client’s unique story. You also build on the relationship you have with your client and increase the possibility of working with them in the future. The possibilities are endless here.
Thanks for reading, that’s it for now,
See you soon again.
Goran @ AltusHost B.V.