Tag Archives: anti-advertising

Marketing tip #1 – Keep em hanging. The art of a great story.

It’s the basic foundation that all marketing is build upon. Understanding that a great story is the best vehicle to command attention and drive message awareness. If that’s the case, why do so many marketing professionals fail miserably at story telling? In a nutshell, they’re too eager to get to the punch line, the happy ending or in our world what we like to call the “big payoff.” In other words, they are too busy selling and not focused on telling a proper story.

Telling a story is easy. Telling a great story that leaves the audience captivated is a craft that takes time, dedication and pure talent to master. All great stories contain certain elements that draw the reader in. Think of the great characters in literature – Steinbeck’s Tom Joad, Abby’s Hayduke or Nichols’ Joe Mondragon. These characters are filled with complex traits, each facing internal struggles, self doubt, heartache, joy, uncertainty, defeat and success. What makes these characters come alive is that they are portrayed as humans. They aren’t perfect, they don’t live in a perfect world and sometimes things don’t go their way. The audience emotionally connects with these things, they’ve been there, they’ve felt that way and have experienced these same emotions and struggles. When presented with this type of a story they want to stick with it and invest their time into finding out what happens in the end. Your audience is willing to make it to the “big payoff” but they want to earn it. They deserve something with substance, not a sales pitch.

So, the next time you’re working out concepts for that new campaign, keep the story in mind. Here are a few elements that any story must contain to be captivating: Tension, drama, emotion, connection, anxiety, self-doubt, internal struggle, conflict, joy, defeat and success. How you incorporate these things into your work is the difference between telling a good story and a great story.

And sometimes…the best stories told are the ones that can convey all of these things without saying a single word. That’s a brand that has confidence in who it is.

Now get out there and start telling great stories.


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Marketing tip #2 – Nobody cares about your business

It’s true. We don’t want to believe it. We do everything possible to trick our minds into thinking that it isn’t reality but in fact, at the end of the day, the sad truth is that people just don’t care about your business. There. I said it and  you know what? It doesn’t bother me at all to tell you this. They. Don’t. Care.

Unless someone is currently engaged in the sales cycle of your business, product or service, you are not the first thing they think about when they wake in the morning and the last thing they think of when they go to bed. It just doesn’t happen.

So, how do you get people to think about your business when they aren’t currently looking for your product or service? Here’s a hint…advertising isn’t the answer. There’s no way general advertising will reach through the daily cognitive congestion that an average individual must sort through. Example: Unless I’m actively looking for a specific car that’s on your car lot, I could give a rats banana about your cars, your awesome financing deals, how many miles per gallon your cars get, how amazing your sales staff is, what type of service certifications you have and how comfy and nice your waiting rooms are, or that you’re #1 at anything. I just don’t care. I’ve got more important things to think about.

Here’s what people do care about and here’s what makes people think about your business on a daily basis: It’s about the things you do that have absolutely nothing to do with selling  a product or service. Toms could just sell shoes. No biggie right? Millions of people buy shoes. It happens every day. However, it’s the story behind Toms shoes and the fact that for every pair of shoes they sell, they give another pair away in a third-world country. That’s something to think about. It’s an act of global good. It’s charity. It’s giving back. It’s also making a difference. By gosh, there’s a story there and you know what? Humans like stories. It’s one of the oldest forms of communication.

Sure, Patagonia could pocket 100% of their profits each year, pay out massive bonuses and keep on trucking without blinking an eye. They could also fill their catalogs and website with nothing but product and sell sell sell. But it’s the fact that they give 1% of their profits back to causes that work to preserve the environment ($46 million to date) and dedicate catalog and website space to telling stories (there’s that word again) of preservation efforts, environmental responsibility and stewardship that lifts them beyond being just another outdoor gear manufacturer. They’ve transcended the typical and have become a community of doers, thinkers, activists, content providers and a  manufacturer of consumable goods.

What both Toms and Patagonia have in common is that they spend just as much time, effort and money doing things that are not related to selling their product or service as they do marketing their actual products and services. They invest these additional resources into creating stories, experiences and changing lives for the better. This is called “storydoing” and the brands that understand this concept are the brands that end up grabbing more consumer cognitive space on a daily basis.

There’s no magic bullet here and you either get it or you don’t. This type of dedication to putting time, energy and financial resources into doing things that aren’t directly related to selling  products is not for the weak. It takes years of commitment to gain traction but ultimately, this is your story. It’s gotta go beyond the sales pitch to get people involved, interested and passionate about your brand.

Now get out there and do something so radical and different that it makes people take notice and actually care about your business. Good luck.


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