As I’ve developed my freelance career, I’ve had to learn more about marketing – particularly digital marketing. One name that’s constantly come up in the books, blogs and articles I’ve read is Seth Godin.
He’s written a number of best selling books including, Permission Marketing, Tribes, The Purple Cow and Linchpin which I read earlier this year.
In All Marketers tell Stories, he argues that marketing today is no longer just about focusing on the features or benefits of a product or service – instead businesses and marketers need to look at telling a story that their audience or customers want to hear and believe.
This idea immediately appeals to me coming from a journalistic background. I think there’s a convergence between journalism and marketing and we’re seeing more brands using the storytelling techniques of journalism as a way of marketing products and services.
The ability to tell a story isn’t just confined to the world of business. We increasingly see it in other areas like politics.
Only last week, we heard Labour Party leader Ed Milliband tell his ‘family story’ during his keynote speech at the Party’s conference in Manchester.
Milliband revealed how his family arrived in Britain as refugees during the War. He talked about his comprehensive school education, contrasting this with the Prime Minister’s more privileged education at Eton.
Voters don’t want to hear just about policies – they want to know the story behind the people who want their votes. These stories give voters just as much reason to vote for a party or candidate as policies.
Godin argues that you can’t tell any old story. Storytelling isn’t an excuse to bulls*t. Your story has to be authentic and one which your audience will believe in.
I like Godin’s argument that as people we all have are own worldviews which you can call biases. When it comes to marketing a product or service, to be successful you need to tell a story that fits into your audience’s worldview. You see this all the time in journalism.
Sometimes when I’m in a newsagents, I’ll look at the front pages of the national papers. There might be a story that a few of them will be covering, but those stories are framed very differently to each other.
Take a story on immigration. The Daily Mail will frame an immigration story in a different way to that of the Guardian or the Times. The angle of the story reflects the worldview of the readership for each paper.
When it comes to producing content and telling stories about you and your business, you need to develop an authentic story that fits in with the world view of your customers/audience.
Remember that as consumers we’re faced with an overwhelming level of choice these days. The story you tell about your business may be different to your competitors – but it could be that more people believe and identify with your story and this is where you can succeed in content marketing.
If people believe and want to spread your story – it gives them a reason and justification for buying your product, supporting your business.
It’s not enough anymore to simply tell people that your product or service is really good or better than the competition. People are bored of hearing this.
If you want to be a great storyteller, you need to develop a deep understanding of your customers/audience; know who they are, how they think and feel about the world so that you can tailor an authentic story they’ll believe in.
Have a read of the book – see if you agree.