Those who tell the stories rule the world. — Hopi American Indian proverb
Is your company trying to be a hero in the eyes of your customers? Are you investing a financial effort to explain to customers how you are the biggest hero among all of your competitors? Summary: Bad Idea!
WHEN DO BUSINESSES WIN
Businesses win when they put customers story in front of their own stories.
Rarely companies have a problem with explaining the use of the products to users, as most products are not so innovative. At the same time, many companies do have a problem with how they speak about the products.
When a business hires an agency to do marketing, they often do not understand that first is needed to simplify product message in the form of a great story.
Stories give form to complex situations and products. Stories get people and future customers interested and involved.
In the real world, words sell things much more than web pages on which they are displayed.
Without simplifying and making your message and story simple and clear, marketing is waste of money, and not even the best product cannot beat over a competitor who merely communicates better.
GOAL OF BRANDING
The only goal of branding is that customers know where the brand is taking them.
That is because all humans have a simple goal in life, they all desire to be taken somewhere. To a better life, to brighter future or to participate in some movement bigger than just one person.
So, as you define how their lives and experiences will be better if they do business with you, they will desire to do business with you.
Speaking about customer problems will increase connection with your brand. Which surprisingly works much better than paying slogans about how your company is a most impressive frog in a pond.
Businesses fail as communication through marketing is not made on the regular human level. Human beings are always searching for ways that will make their lives better and to find ways that will help them survive. So, create such story that benefits your users, instead of speaking about your company story.
In crafting product message, sure win is to focus on the part of human psychology by which people search for means by which they will live better, survive and feel better (primal needs, or Maslow`s hierarchy of needs. Speaking of your own business does not help the customer with his primal needs. No one listens to speech “about us.”
Creating stories is a most powerful tool to organize complex information into something useful for the customers, so they will want to hear it.
People will always gladly walk into a story that helps them in life to achieve more or be more.
The message needs to be simplified and create readers opportunity that they will be better, live better, make their lives better in a simple and clear way.
Noise in marketing is the real enemy of business, as it shuts down ideas and products more than anything else in the market.
Readers will become customers based on what they hear and not what you say to them.
To get a sense of reality and check if customers understand you, do a simple test: ask your team members to say your company product message in clear and straightforward way.
QUESTIONS GUIDE A STORY
A good story can hold the human focus for hours, and a story is the best way to fight through information noise that most humans are bombarded with every second of their life. Usual error is that brands speak about themselves and then insert humans in their random messages.
People buy products which they understand, more often than they just buy best products.
To make company story simple and clear, use following questions in crafting:
1. What customer desires
2. What is against customers desires
3. How lost will the life of customer look if he does not get what he desires
If those three questions are not answered in product message, then the customer gets lost in too many similar words around him.
Any part of the story that doesn’t explain this three fundamental issues needs to be removed. All elements which do not serve the story, need to go.
Then just formulate story even better by using this pattern:
1. What do you offer
2. How your offer makes customer life better
3. How customer gets/purchase what you offer
It might seem that this is an impossible task in case company provides more than one service or sells complex products. Even in that case message still needs to be simple to sell the product. There is one umbrella message summarizing all that you do; just it requires creativity.
MAIN CHARACTER OF A STORY
The customer is an only main character in the story which you tell the customer about yourself or your product.
Brand or Product is never the main character of a story. Product suppliers are only a guide for a customer, which is on a journey to become a superstar with suppliers help.
Most powerful presentations are made when the customer is positioned as the main character, and a business as a guide that provides wisdom, product or services that enable the customer to progress in his life.
Once when you identify what customer wants, then you will know which story will attract their attention.
WHAT CUSTOMER SOLVES WITH PURCHASE
Brands and companies need to focus on three levels of a problem(frustration) that are existing for a customer: internal, external and psychological.
An example is that customer wakes up one day, and his coffee machine stops working (external problem), which makes the customer feel insecure during the day due to sleepiness (internal problem). Then there is a psychological dilemma: if only would exist a coffee machine that could solve more essential issues in the world than just preparing coffee.
Philosophical problems are defined as a more substantial more in-depth story for a customer which our brand is on a mission to solve. For example, good must prevail over evil.
Customers are searching solution for their internal problems, which would help them to be successful in life and solve problems which are disrupting their experience of life. Most companies are selling solutions for external problems and do not realize that customers never buy products to solve that problems only.
When brands are assuming that customers are solving only their external problem, then they are not living and understanding their full story.
To frame our solutions as a solution to internal, external and possibly philosophical immediately increases the value of our brand in customer’s eyes.
CREATING A GREAT STORY
The main character of a story is a future customer that always searches for ways that can help them to achieve what they want in life.
Leading cause of frustration of customer is the one single enemy causing it, and best is to define the enemy as singular, relatable and real.
To create a movie or book like a story, you need to make a space between main character and his goals. If you are not able to define what customer wants, you can not create a plot of a story and happy end.
Customer needs to understand what is their enemy in the story, so that offered product will help them win over that enemy.
Customers are looking in life a guide that will help them, not another main character of their story, so companies which position themselves as the main character in customer story will compete with customers. Globe is always spinning around a person that lives on it.
Marketing materials focused on what customer wants and that created a single item of focus will win.
People focus from ancient times on primitive survival instincts: food, warmth, happiness, having children. So we can relate that to the modern way of life as having money, building social networks, buying luxury items.
Luxury items purchases belong to one of the primal human instincts: being associated with the power which can help you survive.
The desire for meaning is one of most influential motivators, as life becomes un-tolerable without a purpose. Therefore craft a message that will invite the customer to participate in something bigger than just one single purchase.
Customers trust only a business that has a clear plan which eliminates any confusion on how to do business with them, and that needs to be an essential part of the story.
BEING A GOOD GUIDE
Everyone is looking for a Guide in life, and when companies position themselves as something else than a guide, they are destined to lose.
In real stories as movies or books, main characters are always weak so when companies position themselves as strong with a desire to be the hero that’s sure path to self-destruct.
How to be a Guide? The guides have authority and empathy. Customers trust companies that understand them.
How to express authority without bragging in marketing materials:
1. Customers testimonials
2. Stats on number of customers or saved money
3. Rewards which you received
4. Existing customers logos
First question customer will have when speaking with you or looking at your marketing materials is: can I trust this person and can I respect this person.
STEPPING STONES TO A PURCHASE
Customers trust a Guide that gives them a plan.
Purchasing is a sign of serious relationship and not a causal one, so you need to provide a plan.
Customers can lose something when they deal business with you, and that makes them skeptical and nervous. So, create a route (a plan) for a customer that will guide them in purchasing from you, and solve all issues which customer might have in his head.
Any confusion in a plan which guides the customer to the solution and purchase will make them quit.
Usually, there should not be more than four-five steps when guiding the customer through purchase, and if you deal with selling complex products or services, then you can split even 30 steps into phases, so that it will look like few steps in few phases.
Making agreements with the customer as “customer satisfaction agreement” will increase trust in a product. Because then the customer has a plan that makes it clear how to do business with you without risk.
TELL THEM TO BUY
Customers will move to purchase only when they are called to action, and the story which is provided needs to force them to take action.
Never assume that customers understand how product improves their life, and god way is to mention them endlessly.
That call to action will enable them to live better and avoid a tragic ending, so be confident in asking them to make a good thing for themselves.
Two calls to action are efficient: a Direct call to Action & Transitional call to action which creates a future long-term relationship.
When you create a guide for a customer that will take them through purchasing goods, and you solve their internal, external and philosophical problem then there is the last part : call them to action to commit a purchase.
People never make significant life decisions without external pressure of call to action, and they remain in their comfort zone.
For a company that sells products, it is apparent that seller wants the customer to make a purchase, but that does not mean it is obvious also for a customer.
Always invite people to make a purchase that will improve their lives.
Direct call to action: order now, call today, register today
Transitional call-to-action: give the customer something of value, and they will return for more: free guides, free samples.
People are drawn to simple solutions.
FEAR APPEAL SPICE
Loss more than anything always motivates humans.
Brands that don’t warn customers what will they lose without getting their product will never make a success. Including bullet points what will customer lose without your product is merely good part of behavioral science in the economic offer.
Give to customers, after explaining to them what is a threat, an action plan against a threat that protects them and challenges them to take that exact action.
Too much fear appeal to the story could block customer to do anything. However, merely explain to customers what negative things in life they will have by not using your product.
GOOD END IN CUSTOMER MIND
Never assume that people know how you can change their lives and always keep telling them.
Tell customers how their lives will look like if they buy your product.
There are three best scenarios to an good end of each customer story:
1) Achieving power and position -created scarcity by membership, identity association
2) Union that makes hero complete -reduced anxiety, more time, reduced workload
3) Acceptance- need to reach potential, inspiration, acceptance as they are, transcendence.
To make people follow us, we need to tell them where we are taking them.
Pictures of happy smiling customers are the perfect ending to any story.
PEOPLE WANT BRANDS TO HELP THEM CHANGE
The most significant motivation that customer gets for purchasing your product is being better than they currently are. Moreover, human desire to transform is a big motivator.
Smart brands will define a customer desired new identity and offer that they will guide the customer to participate in change.
Leading customer as a brand to a change is more than marketing, that is an act bigger than life. Best brands are dedicated to the transformation of the customer to a better self.
All people dream to be taken somewhere further, that is a true branding secret inside all humans.
By Dario Sipos
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