The Stories Our Customers Tell Themselves
- June 11, 2018
- Posted by: Robert Rose
- Category: Content Strategy
I’m just back from a marathon trip through Europe. Visiting five European cities in eight days sounds wonderful until you actually do it. Take it from me – unless you’re 22 years old – it’s too much.
One benefit of meeting with a variety of marketers from so many different kinds of companies is that the patterns of content marketing challenges become easier to spot. You’re fresh off of a conversation with a global pharmaceutical company when you find yourself in a similar chat with a large safety equipment manufacturer.
One thing that was enlightening for me was a consistent conversation I had about the value of brand and storytelling.
The business case for telling creative, powerful stories is often focused on creating a differentiated brand; one that moves audiences to want to be customers. I think there’s an equal, and perhaps less explored, power in a smart storytelling strategy.
A great story strategy differentiates our brand (or our approach) in the marketplace of ideas. But it also helps our customers feel more valued, to justify why they paid more, waited longer, or simply made the choice they did.
In other words – the best story strategies not only help us tell our story better, but they help our customers tell their stories better as well.
I learned of a simple example of this while in Europe: the LEGO Ideas platform. The site works very much like a crowdfunded content platform. Fans create and submit ideas for new Lego construction sets. Lego reviews ideas that get at least 10,000 supporters and picks a few favorites to sell worldwide. The person who submitted the idea gets a percentage of the revenue.
How cool is it that your audience can, literally, tell you what product to make – and you know that there’s demand even before you make it?
What’s even more interesting is the story these fans get to tell themselves. They, quite literally, become the creators of the story. As the LEGO CEO put it, “It’s about discovering what’s obviously LEGO, but has never been seen before.” It’s the most LEGO story ever. Anyone can be a creator, which is a major reason LEGO is such a beloved brand.
Another great example, and one of my favorite interviews, was with the wonderful Jonathan Mildenhall. When I spoke with him, he was vice president of global advertising strategy and creative excellence for Coca-Cola. He told me how his content strategy was focused squarely on maintaining the asking price of a serving of Coke. He said if “I can use great content to fill up the emotional well of the consumer then I have to trade on it less and less.”
In other words, by having an effective storytelling strategy, his bet (and his primary measurement) was on the decrease of discounting needed to entice people to try – or buy more – Coca-Cola.
As consumers, the justification for paying more, waiting longer, not asking for a discount, or staying loyal isn’t in the features or benefits of the product. It lies within the stories we tell ourselves to fill our emotional well.
If this is true, then our stories – the content we create – are at least as important than the products and services we sell.
It’s high time our stories became that strategic.
It’s your story. Tell it well.