Business building by telling stories


According to Howard Bloom, author of The Lucifer Principle, the success of memes and those who propagate them is due in part to their clever use of the invisible world.  This is the world of story, legend and belief.   He refers to the invisible world that plays on our desires and fears.  Business building is no different!

Broadly speaking, the aim of marketing is to satisfy a need, allay a fear, or create a desire.  Here is an example of each:

  • Buying food to have a full stomach is satisfying the basic human need of hunger
  • Installing a home security system is allaying the fear of loss of safety and / or possessions
  • Joining a weight loss service is the result of creating the desire to look and feel good

Marketers know that all of these products and services are all best sold by use of stories.  People love stories.  Most of us have been ‘message conditioned’ by stories ever since we were small children.  People remember stories.  People repeat stories.  The take-home marketing message is in the story.

Three (3) everyday examples found recently on Australian TV are:

  1. A large supermarket chain tells the story of the ‘fruit & vegie’ manager visiting the farms to hand pick the freshest food for their stores.  By doing so, they enhance the value part of the ‘value for money’ proposition and avoid having to reduce the price.
  2. A home security supplier tells a story of thieves breaking into houses by kicking in the security screen door.  It creates fear and then proceeds with the story to allay that fear by offering their particular security door solution.
  3. A weight loss service provider tells story of an overweight celebrity who has used their products to achieve his or her dream of looking good and feeling good, with all the accompanying health and lifestyle benefits.  It is an autobiographical testimonial style story with ‘before’ and ‘after’ images as supporting evidence.

In all cases, it is very clever story telling.  Stories convey messages so much better than simply listing benefits.  Why?  Because no one is interested in what is logical!  Logic alone sells very little.  Marketers know that they have to drill down further than that and tap into feelings and emotions

For instance, the weight loss service provider knows that presenting the logical health benefits alone would sway no one.  However, if they appeal to vanity and desire first and then justify it later with the obvious health benefits, customers will come in droves. 

So logic does have a place.  It is second place!  Logic is used by a customer after the fact to justify and support emotional buying decisions.  But logic alone just doesn’t cut it.  For the initial grab, emotion outsells logic every time.

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Until next time!