You have a product or brand. Your marketing budget is non-existent. How can you get people talking about and sharing your brand with friends and colleagues?
I've been reading the book Contagious: Why Things Catch On by Jonah Berger, and it outlines 6 factors that makes things go viral. In this article, I'll share with you my thoughts on the 6th and last chapter - Stories.
Most of us liked bed-time stories - most of us liked stories in general! We like to be immersed in another world, to experience different emotions and sensations. In a story, we can walk in the shoes of the characters, and feel what they feel, see what they see.
Stories also gives us a social narrative, of how characters interact with each other. This allows us to measure ourselves against what happens in the story, and in doing so, we make sense of our role in relation to the world, ultimately find our meaning in it.
It's also like how we are drawn into a good drama series and just have to watch the next episode.
We are suckers for a good story.
But good stories aren't just a chain of events, stories carries morals. The Boy Who Cried Wolf teaches us not to lie, because eventually no one will believe anything we say, even if we are telling the truth.
The stories of The Three Little Pigs teaches us to work hard and set up a solid foundation, even when others are neglecting theirs and out having fun.
If you tell a child not to lie and to work hard - they're not going to listen to you. Wrap the moral in a story, however, they'll be back asking for more!
So just as fables like The Boy Who Cried Wolf and The Three Little Pigs carries moral, we can make our messages more attractive by wrapping it inside a story.
If you make a statement, or give an opinion, people may disagree with you. Looking at comments on Reddit and YouTube, it seems The Peoples of the Interweb likes to disagree, and they'll latch on to you until they beat you, and everyone else knows about it.
So telling people 'My Product is the best' will get you more stick than praise, even if it is the best. It doesn't matter how well-made or well-explained something is, someone, somewhere will disagree.
But people won't confront you about your story. Instead of making a statement, say something like 'I tried out Product X, and hands-down, this is the best.' People are not going to disagree that you have that opinion.
Gyms don't tell potential customers that they're overweight and need to lose weight. Instead, they emphasise how their existing customers got healthier by joining. In the latter case, the customer agrees rather than disagree, and are drawn in rather than being self-conscious.
Saying your message through a story can soften your message and make people more accepting to your ideas.
Apart from avoiding confrontation, stories also allow the listener to be immersed into the sitation. Again, going back to the gym example, the potential customer can imagine themselves following the routine and becoming healthier.
You can't do it unless you can imagine it. ~ George Lucas
By telling a story, you dictate the narrative and forces the listener to take a journey with you. If they can imagine it, they're more likely to buy or sign up.
A Personal Touch
If you say your brand is the best, very few people will believe you, not least because there's a huge conflict of interest. How do we know the product will be as good as you described? Afterall, you're only after my money.
But when my friend recommends something, I am going to believe him; afterall, he's not after my money. And he's my friend.
In these cases, personal opinions matters more than objective facts.
Make Stories Resonate
When you wrap your message inside your story, make sure your audience agree with your story. Even if they don't agree with your message initially, if they resonate with the story, your message might just get through.
Dove ran the Real Beauty advertising campaigns featuring plus-sized models. The narrative is that women of any size, colour and shape can be beautiful, and our sense of beauty is skewed by the media. This is a message most of us believe in. It certainly resonates with me.
Did I really like Dove? Not really. Do I like Dove now? A lot more! I see the brand as a morally-sound brand that promotes a cause I believe in. Dove understands me.
And so by having a story that resonates, the message got through and my perception of the brand changed.
Make Your Message Integral To The Story
But you can't just wrap your message inside any story - they have to complement each other. Your message must be integral to the story, and not just an aside. Construct your story so people cannot retell it without also retelling your message.
So in conveying your brand, don't sell cold, hard facts. Instead, build a story around it, inject a bit of human touch, and get people drawn in. Make the story resonate with the audience. You only need to get the audience to agree with you a few times before they'll open up and be more accepting to anything you throw at them.
Go. Tell a good story.
If you enjoyed this article, why not check out the others in the series?