Tell a Good Story and Your Marketing Will Live Happily Ever After.
Once upon a time when I was a kid, my mother told bedtime stories. So of course when I had my own three kids, every bedtime I was bombarded with a chorus of "Tell me a story, tell me a story!" I would tell a little story – usually about Martians capturing me on the way to work. My kids loved those stories. They made going to bed fun. I think most people like stories. They help get people’s attention, connect with their emotions and more effectively communicate an idea or message.
As marketers in this modern day world of Blackberries, those retinal scans in Minority Report and hyper niches of personalization, I believe it's still very important to tell a story to help sell the products and services we represent.
Claude Hopkins, one of advertising’s great pioneers, wrote a little book in 1923, called Scientific Advertising, in which he laid down the guidelines for writing a good ad. The most important guideline was telling a story. Although his book is over 80 years old, the story-telling part is just as relevant today. In chapter eight, entitled, “Tell Your Full Story.” Mr. Hopkins says, “Whatever claim you use to gain attention, the advertisement should tell a story.” Admittedly, much of what Mr. Hopkins wrote seems terribly out dated, but many of his fundamental guidelines are just as relevant today.
Even Seth Godin, one of today’s most prominent marketing experts, believes in the age-old dictum of story telling. In his book All Marketers are Liars – The Power of Telling Authentic Stories in a Low-trust World, Godin says successful marketers don’t talk about features or benefits. They tell stories. Stories that readers want to read. And believe. A special connection is created when a marketer engages potential buyers through a shared experience or an interesting dialogue. Like the new Kleenex television advertising. People sit on a sofa in the middle of Manhattan and tell a story or share an anecdote about their lives. (Which usually brings them to tears – hence, the Kleenex.)
It’s a different world than the one Hopkins lived in. Faster paced. Shorter attention spans. But in many ways that makes the ability to tell an entertaining and interesting story all the more critical to effective communication. People still appreciate a good story – as long as it is entertaining, personal and relevant.
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