Tag Archives: brand advice

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 #1 – Brands develop in an epicenter

What do brands like, Patagonia, Ruff Wear, PBR, Airstream and Carhartt all have in common? At some point in their existence, either from the beginning days of their brand, or later as the brand struggled to maintain market share, there was a movement within a sub-culture of individuals that gravitated towards the product, embraced it, utilized it and shared it with others, consciously or subconsciously.

I like to call this the “brand epicenter experience.” This is defined when a shift happens at the center of a sub-culture, individuals gravitate towards a product for various reasons but typically they are tied to strong beliefs/ideals held within their sub-culture. These brands become “identifiers,” coveted within the group because they work to further define and separate them from the everyday norm. This group is considered the epicenter of brand consumption.

People outside the sub-culture that want to fit in and emulate the actions of those in the epicenter, embrace and utilize the same brands/products as the sub-culture, the movement starts to spread out from the epicenter and expand. Just as an earthquake happens, so does the organic spreading of a brand. You can’t make it happen, however, by being highly specific in defining your demographic and staying only within their marketing channels you will increase your odds of an epicenter event.

For brands like Patagonia, Ruff Wear and Airstream, they knew from day one who they were, they understood the needs of their customers and they knew where and how to find them. These markets however were very small and considered outside the norm compared to more commercialized markets at the time. That didn’t matter to these brands. They weren’t worried with mass consumption of their products. They focused on manufacturing the best possible products for their specific demographic and use. They didn’t go out with the purpose of creating brand converts but what they unconsciously did was create brand apostles who worked tirelessly, spreading the message of the brand through their sub-culture and beyond.

If you wanna shake things up you gotta start at the epicenter. It’s where shift happens.






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