Author: Jack Dolan, WhiteHot Marketing Intern
“For sale: baby shoes, never worn.” This story, known popularly as the shortest novel ever written, is commonly attributed to Ernest Hemingway, although no concrete evidence has been able to prove it. Yet in only 6 words we grieve with this expecting mother as she bemoans the loss of her beloved child by trying to sell all of the possessions they never wore. Even for a guy like me who’ll never experience the physical tolls of childbearing and childbirth, this story makes me want to bring my loved ones closer and cherish the time I have with them.
The connection of human emotion has become the most coveted corporate concept in today’s business world. Why? Because of its ability to create single-time buyers and convert them into long term consumers. Feeling an emotional connection with a company´s humble beginnings, failures and eventual overall success helps consumers feel a desire to continuously invest in the same company.
How then can this connection be created? In the exact same way that the six-word novel above did: telling a story. The simplest way to create an emotional bond is to tell someone else about what we’ve been through so that they understand our point of view. Brands constantly strive and invest resources to create that bond because, at the end of the day, there are people just like us behind every Nike swoosh, McDonald’s golden arches and Microsoft window display. They feel tired, work long hours and strive to care for their families just like most everyone else, and that logo wants us to see that.
But is there a template? Is there a strategy to more effective storytelling? Here’s where we turn to the pros. Julie Cottineau, founder and CEO of Brandtwist, gives some important advice outlined in an article published in Entrepreneur:
1. Be real, relevant and rich
Catch the consumer’s attention from the start by sharing the emotional feelings and specific insights surrounding the moment you came up with the idea you were going to start your business. Avoid the usual informational approach about when the company was started, etc.
2. Be twisted
Provide a twist that helps the consumer understand what sets you apart from other businesses, much like a plot twist in a novel.
3. Share the “ugly”
Share your failures and help consumers understand how you learned and improved after experiencing them.
4. Have conflict, heroes and resolution
Help the consumer see the new and different ways you’ve used to overcome common obstacles in order to be successful.
5. Give them a memoir, not a biography
Remember the common “What’s in it for me?” mentality of consumers while writing and stay relevant to your audience.
One well-known and articulated brand story comes in the form of Apple Inc. Late CEO Steve Job’s story of his success incorporated much failure and financial hardship. However, he continued to overcome financial obstacles, striving to create consumer technology that would become household staples. This story has been popularized through the publication of his biography, the dramatization of his life in the recent movie Steve Jobs, as well as the film Jobs, in which Ashton Kutcher portrayed Steve Jobs from college up to his journey of self-discovery.
Now comes another very important question: Did this brand story single-handedly fuel the success seen by Apple? Of course not. This blog article isn’t to say that a brand story will create immediate success. In Apple’s case, innovations in the technology field, price of the product, etc. also helped. But ultimately it’s Steve Jobs’ tale that helps persuade many buyers, showing what he and the company have gone through and have been able to overcome in order to provide a stellar product. That persuasion is the whole point of this article: to show that brand stories help create the added push needed to persuade consumers to commit to buying a product.
One final question: How does this relate to WhiteHot Marketing? What’s our story? Why should you do business with us? Our story is similar to Apple’s in one way: our leaders have a passion for the arts, which has led them to be passionate about things other than marketing. Our president, Margaret Osborn, entered college as an instrumental music major. That didn’t last long, as an English lit professor helped her see her strength in communicating by giving her a perfect score on a thesis centered around the papacy, which set her on a path to launch her 15-year career as the director of marketing, planning and PR in a hospital system. This experience led her to be passionate about the consulting side of business, in addition to planning and strategizing.
The same passion can be found in our VP, Kevin Doyle. At the age of 8 he learned how important the thrill of organizing campaigns was to him. This led him to start a graphic design bachelor’s degree at Indiana University, where he learned that he enjoyed creating interactive websites and videos much more than Hallmark cards, a field to which many graphic designers are consigned. This has helped him create wonderful websites garnered towards our clients’ needs, as well as ways to measure growth and engagement for each of them.
I know it’s not as in depth as the many stories about Steve Jobs, but our staff is human. We have likes and dislikes, and there are people behind our brand that work hard at trying to exceed our clients’ expectations. The reason we exist is to help other people learn your brand story.
Whether you’re trying to sell unworn baby shoes or an innovative computer design, business nowadays requires more than just a stellar product; it requires a relatable and persuasive brand story. By following several simple steps, your success in persuading clients and consumers alike can be facilitated just by talking about yourself. Challenge accepted?