As everyone will tell you, (including me here) marketing is about stories, stories that resonate, are remembered, that generate empathy, and lead to an action, and hopefully if your effort is to be rewarded, a transaction.
So what are the elements that make a good marketing story?
It is instructive to look to the stories we all read, from books we read to our kids, to the fiction we read as adults. All seem to share elements of 6 common traits:
- They are written for an audience. Kids love stories, and reading to my kids was one of the joys of being a parent. They would have loved last years best seller, Jeremy, the story of the kookaburra chick that fell out of the nest and as reared by a family until he could look after himself. Great book for my kids, as kids, but not my choice for my personal reading.
- They have a hero and a villain, and the hero always wins after a seemingly unwinnable struggle, usually at the last moment, and unexpectedly.
- They have a beginning, a middle, and an end. The beginning sets the scene, the middle tells the story, and the end does a recap, and reinforces the message of the story.
- They all have a message, something worthwhile taking away, and that takeaway is the point of the story. Aesop, a Greek slave had this part nailed.
- They all have dramatic tension coming in waves through the story. The hero is confronted, and prevails, then is confronted again and prevails again by being smarter, more helpful, inventive, and resilient than the villain. The rhythm of the story builds to the climax, with the hero again, prevailing in some way that demonstrates the traits of ingenuity, resilience, and “goodness”.
- The story has a plot. Pretty obvious, but the plot is what ties it all in together, and provides the context for the hero to beat the villain, to achieve the unachievable, and deliver the message.
A good story gets remembered, and can be retold. That is not just luck, it is the way we have evolved, storytelling is the way we related information vital for survival in the first couple of million years as we moved from caves to the present, passing on the strategies for staying out of the way of all sorts of risks to life and limb along the way. Recently there has been a lot of sophisticated research searching for the mechanics, this post from Chris Penn includes links to several.
Point is, the sophisticated research is simply telling us the mechanics, Aesop just knew the formula, and it remains the formula today, from writing a blog post to making a presentation, you may as well use the formula to your benefit.
How did I do?