Story Time!

What’s the story of Coca-cola, or Hewlett Packard? What’s the story of BMW? We’re not asking about the history of the company, or the founders. What we mean is, what story have you told yourself about those brands and what they mean? Is the management at BMW rigorous about quality? Cutting edge design? Are they a bunch of obsessive Bavarians that get a buzz out of driving fast on the Autobahn, making their engines growl?

What on earth gave you that idea? It was advertising actually…

We don’t know of anyone who doesn’t like to be told a good story. One that’s engaging, and interesting. One that’s believable. It’s entertaining, and because of this, most people will repeat it or at least act on it. That’s where marketing comes in.

Consumers are an interesting bunch.

They change, they flip flop, they make irrational decisions. Most of them, though, just want to believe the decisions they do make are sound. The truth is, people choose what to believe. If they think it will benefit them somehow, they’ll justify the story so that it positively and directly affects their lives. More importantly, they’ll make the purchase.

Our job as designers, copywriters and programmers is to develop a story about a brand, product or service that consumers can’t resist. Obviously, certain stories will appeal to certain target markets, but having specified those markets, we aim to paint a picture, depict a product that makes consumers confuse wants with needs. Seth Godin says it best in the title of one of his books: All Marketers are Liars.

We’re not really liars, though, right?

No, we’re not liars in the sense that we want to tell false information. We’re not liars because we want to mislead people. We don’t want to do these things. We just want to tell a story as it directly relates to the consumer we’ve chosen to go after. That may include an angle on the story that reaches a far spectrum of the truth, but it’s still there.

In Godin’s book, he branches out to say that it’s not really the marketers who are liars- it’s the consumers! The marketers are just storytellers and because the consumers decide what to believe, they often lie to themselves when they want something. It’s important for us marketers to keep in mind the bigger picture and the story we’re telling.

Would we believe it? Why do we buy the things we do as consumers ourselves?

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