Once upon a time, there was a beautiful princess who possessed magical powers to create snow and frost…If you have already braced yourself against hearing that song for the billionth time, you already know that storytelling has the power to leave a lasting impression. And we can all learn from the master of storytelling: Disney. For Disney, the movie or “story” is the marketing vehicle that supports every arm of the business which includes retail goods, publishing, hospitality, media, broadcasting, and more. The brand not only promotes the sale of its goods and services, sometimes that impression lasts long beyond the original experience of the movie.
A basic approach to promotion relies on a short-term sensory reaction. With this approach, the marketer counts on eliciting an immediate response. This tactic is proven to work, but often only for a limited time. “40% Off All Coats”…Yes please! “Check out our shiny new, way smaller but also bigger tablet!”…Sure, why not? But what’s going to make me return to your site and make another purchase at full price? Or prevent me from shopping around for a cheaper, better tablet?
Narratives are powerful because they make it easier for a consumer to connect with your product or point of view, and they’re easy to remember. That doesn’t mean that you have to cram sixty writers into a room to reinvent Bambi (seriously, please don’t). In fact for most of us busy and budget-strapped marketers, what we are shooting for is a simple vehicle that effectively conveys the attitude or state of mind about your brand. The objective is to get the consumer in your corner not just because of a product, but because they identify with your brand’s point of view.
To get started, we should ask ourselves some key questions:
Where/when/how do people use my products/services?
How do my products/services make people feel when they use them?
What is the key differentiating factor of my brand and how can it help promote my product/service?
In the absence of a strong brand story, can I draw inspiration from seasonal themes or events?
For example, instead of promoting a shiny new product, what if we stepped back and told the story of a company’s long-standing commitment to excellence or how a new product came about? Or what if the person wearing a fantastic coat is Instagramming her travels across a beautiful Irish countryside? Where is she going next, and what amazing yet functional article of clothing will she be wearing? With a greater idea as the backdrop, one can plan a more consistent marketing story across all channels. Each channel’s strengths can be leveraged to evoke the story in its uniquely effective way.
Many of us are in the midst of 2015 planning. Marketing calendars are being developed, and we’re all wondering how we’re going to keep things fresh and interesting. I’m not saying you have to be wearing Mouse Ears, but what say we try and infuse a little narrative into our plans?