Once you understand that marketing is a form of story-telling, you will no longer feel intimidated by the technicalities of it—like what advertising to use or what marketing strategy and tactics to deploy. Instead, viewing marketing as a form of storytelling will help you see through the fog of technical details.
Let’s assume that you want to tell people about your new restaurant. How do you market it? It may be as simple as giving people who spend more than $25 at your restaurant Gildan t-shirts that says, “Giovanni makes the best pizzas in town.”
As a result of seeing the t-shirt, curious people will ask the wearer where your restaurant is located and why they should eat there. If you do happen to make amazing pizza and provide first-class dining service, then your customer will happily share that information.
What have you just done? You’ve encouraged the art of storytelling. The fact that it’s a true story makes it an even sweeter deal.
Why Marketing Stories Work
In order to appreciate the power of marketing stories, think of stories from the perspective of the consumer.
As a consumer, why do you buy something? It’s because you have a need. You have a problem that you want to resolve, a question that you want to be answered, or a bad situation that you want to go away.
For instance, if your doctor says that your health problems will only get worse if you don’t lose weight, you are suddenly in the market for a dietary plan or a supplement that will help you lose weight.
You now come across a story about someone who was in a similar situation who developed a dietary plan and an exercise program to reach their desired body weight. Since they have figured everything out for you, it makes perfect sense to buy their information product or hire their coaching services.
What Type of Marketing Stories to Tell
Three stories that do particularly well for marketers are founder’s stories, zero-to-hero stories, and buyer stories.
A founder’s story could be the story of how you built your tech company or about some discovery you made that can help others. These stories not only talk about the origin of a company but also describe how its services can benefit consumers.
A zero-to-hero story is a story of how you went from penniless to riches, from lonely to popular, or from sickly to healthy. It could also be a story about someone else. These stories talk about how you or others overcame a state of limitation and how others can benefit from the discovery experience.
A buyer’s story is about how people who have used a product achieved incredible results.
A marketing story could contain more than one of these three themes.
What Marketing Methods to Use to Share Stories
The type of marketing you do should allow you to tell your stories. Both online and offline marketing methods can do this and you can choose either one or a combination.
Let’s take digital marketing as an example.
If you’re marketing online, you can, of course, share your founder’s story on your website. But if you want to keep sharing new stories related to your products or services, then you may want to start writing blog posts and link them to social media.
Here’s how this works:
If your website sells tutorials on how to write for magazines, then you will have a founder’s story about how you became a well-known writer starting from humble beginnings. Perhaps, you were broke and working as a barista, borrowed library books on writing, and learned how to pitch to editors. This marketing story convinces people visiting your website to buy your writing tutorials. They will be inspired and want to do the same thing.
You can then amp up the power of marketing stories by starting a blog. You can now segue from a founder’s story to buyer’s stories. You now have enough space to share stories about how your writing students have also done remarkably well when it comes to getting magazine writing assignments and national recognition for their articles. Since it is a blog, students might even write guest blog posts.
Finally, social media will help you spread your founder’s story and your buyer’s stories.
In conclusion, marketing isn’t what most people think. It isn’t just about describing products or services. It’s more about the stories told about products or services to encourage other people to use them, too.