Good marketing is good story telling

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Good marketing is good story telling

  1. 1. GOOD MARKETING – GOOD STORYTELLING SOME RIGHTS RESERVED UNDER CREATIVE COMMONS LICENSE FREE TO DISTRIBUTE WITH PROPER ATTRIBUTIONBased on a Presentationby Dave BuenviajeStratmark 2011PhilippinesWHAT DOES STORYTELLING HAVE TO DO WITH MARKETING?In developing this presentation, I was struggling to fuse two opposing forces: the structured, precisenature of marketing and the ethereal nature of literature and the arts (a personal interest).My initial idea was to go back to the two concepts’ Good Storytellingmost basic yet common ground: the crafting of themain idea. However, I was concerned about Good marketingpresenting abstract concepts – competition astension, and character as brand framework – to acrowd that expected something more specific andmeasurable.But sustaining the attention of a crowd of 4000college students using hard technicalities ofmarketing (e.g. statistical terminologies) would be atall order. My presentation’s effectivenessdepended on delivering a compelling proposition based on practical – and actual – marketing situations.In attempting to merge the two notions (art and marketing), I realized that the process I was undergoingcould itself be my main topic: adjusting an idea and its message to suit specific audiences. It was howthe storytellers of old managed to address a variety of listeners.STORYTELLING IS INGRAINED IN OUR CULTURAL GENES The relationship between storyteller and audience has persisted throughout human history. Using stories about the gods controlling the cycles of seasons, shamans of old reassured their communities of continuous bountiful harvests.In more modern times, leaders have used stories laced with ideas of courage and patriotism to persuadepeople to hurl themselves into the chaos of war. Religious leaders have latched on to stories found insacred texts to spread the idea of faith, and thereby fortify their ever-growing flock of believers. Page 1 of 8
  2. 2. Good Marketing – Good Storytelling twitter: @jardinedaviesFor the part of the audience, the stories are taken in and then interpreted in the context of theirindividual experiences. And in most cases, the members of the audience become the storytellersthemselves, spreading their interpretation of the original message to whoever would be willing to listen.In this present age, the global community has become one where commercial aggression and productdominance has grown louder and more prominent. In these times, brands have become the keystorytellers; the audience is the modern day consumer, and the message now revolves around thepromise of a unique experience – a relationship – that can be developed between brand and consumer.WHAT MAKES A GOOD STORYTELLER?The key to delivering a good story does not depend on thedetails of the narrative, but on the spreading of an experiencethat the audience will latch on to, and afterwards share withothers.Consider, for instance, the Harry Potter saga.The experience of the series was most powerful not becauseof the finer details. Instead, it captured the audience with concepts that were universally relatable andemotionally arresting.Harry’s first encounter with a wand was not punctuated by how much the wand cost, or the first spell hecast with it. Instead, the essence and highlight of that moment was the amazement and wonder thatreaders and audience perceived.With Harry, they were introduced to a world where wizards existed, and magic was real.The same is true for other key moments: it was not where Professor Dumbledore was killed; it wasabout the loss and anger we felt when he was murdered. In the same way, it is not about how Harry,Ron and Hermione first met: it is about the endurance of their friendship amidst trying times.It is not about Professor Severus Snape’s true allegiance, but his enduring love for Lilly Potter, thedanger in his sacrifice, and the agony that consumed him as he cradled the lifeless body of the onewoman he had ever loved.For our part, it was not about when we first picked up a Harry Potter book, or watched our first HarryPotter movie. It was our experience of Harry – on the page or on the screen – as a brave, loyal andtrustworthy friend who emerged as a hero as the story progressed. Page 2 of 8
  3. 3. Good Marketing – Good Storytelling twitter: @jardinedaviesAnd as storytelling goes, our personal experience of the series insiststhat no one could have delivered Harry’s story better than J.K. Rowlingherself.FEELING: THE ONLY TAKEAWAY One of the main characteristics of a good storyteller is the ability to make themselves disappear. A measure of their effectiveness in relaying a story is if their presence as the storyteller eventually falls secondary to the story/experience they give the audience.The audience remembers the story – the experience – above all else.And a significant factor to the experience is the feeling that the audience is left with. It is this feelingthat helps create the emotional connection (or disconnection) between the audience and theexperience itself. In the case of brands and marketing, a consumer’s attachment (and perhaps loyalty) to a brand is significantly determined by the feeling attributed to the brand, generated by the experience of that brand’s products. For instance, a consumer’s connection with the coffee chain Starbucks may be rooted in a feeling of relaxation and pleasure. While the consumer may appreciate the coffee’s taste, the memories ofStarbucks may be largely linked to calm, tranquil afternoons with a book to read, a pack of cigarettes,and good conversations with friends.Similarly, a consumer’s attachment to Apple products is not determinedsolely by the look and feel of a specific device. Taking the iPod as anexample, the attachment is defined by, say, moments of lounging aroundand blocking off the noise from your surroundings with songs from yourfavourite band.And as you are immersed in that personal feeling, other details like theproduct’s price fall to the backdrop.In the end, it is just you (the consumer) and your personal encounter withthe product. If the experience of the product is good enough, consumerswill gladly pay for it, sometimes whatever the price may be. Page 3 of 8
  4. 4. Good Marketing – Good Storytelling twitter: @jardinedaviesA STORY OF BEER COMMERCIALSWhen I was eight or nine, I was reasonably excluded from the drinking circlethat included my father and his friends. Should I attempt to join them, I waspromptly shooed away and told to go watch TV instead.Years later, when I finally had my own set of drinking buddies, I encountered aTV ad that I had encountered as a youngster: San Miguel Beer’s “Sabay Tayo”from 1985.What struck me was how this ad, which I could not relate to as a kid, now spoke to me quite well of howSan Miguel is the beer that remained constant throughout the various stages of one’s life. In the same way, I easily related to Guinness Beer TVCs, which spoke of drinking as a ritual that could strengthen bonds between people, if not create new ones. The reason why the messages of these commercials were of no significance to me as a kid was simple: back then, they were talking to my father. But now, they are talking to me: a grown-up who understands the significance of having beer between good friends. “Sabay Tayo” San Miguel Beer (TVC) I could not relate to the ad as a kid because I was not 1985 http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KmRPLgp0Bmc the target market. It was a simple realization that now forms part of mythesis: part of telling a story well is knowing who to tell it to, and who are most likely to listen.The notion of “knowing your audience,” albeit a cliché, is afundamental guideline that must not be underestimated. Take acue from successful stand-up comedians: they adjust their jokesand punchlines to suite specific types of audiences.STAYING TRUE TO YOUR STORYA good cautionary tale is the Coca-Cola marketing disasterinvolving their attempt to launch what they called the “new” Coke. Page 4 of 8
  5. 5. Good Marketing – Good Storytelling twitter: @jardinedaviesTheir major move in their introduction of the New Coke was changing the taste – a strategy based on aconclusion that, based on pre-launch market tests, consumers preferred the new taste over the old one.The initial mistake was assuming that, in a market of increasing competition with the emergence ofother beverages, the apparent decline in their sales was because of consumers’ growing demand fornew and different tastes.In reality, however, people’s attachment to Coke was grounded not on tastebut on availability: Coke’s success in controlling the distribution networksearly in the game made the drink readily available to many.With the emergence of other beverage options, the decline in sales was infact a natural occurrence.Additionally, Coke failed to realize that the earlier advertising of theirproduct as something that brought refreshment to the busy and tired consumers integrated thebeverage into American culture. The “ice cold Coca-Cola” had become part of daily Americana.The experience of drinking Coke was no longer rootedsolely on its taste; people have attached a certain feeling ofbeing refreshed every time they consumed it.Upon changing the taste and in effect the identity of thistreasured beverage, Coca-Cola unknowingly changed astory that people had already accepted and embraced.Because of this, the market felt betrayed, and consequentlyrevolted.Coca-Cola learned from this damaging misstep, and eventually chose to revert to the old Coke recipe.This story teaches us that brands too must be genuine. Although marketers must remain creative, theymust execute this creativity to communicate messages that the market will understand and connectwith. Otherwise, the market will see right through the façade.REKINDLING THE ROMANCEIn some cases, the challenge is to remindaudiences of a story that has over time grown oldand insignificant. A Romanian chocolate bar, aptly named Rom, was facing a seemingly insurmountable challenge. Theyounger consumers – their target market – were beginning to gravitate towards American chocolates.Aside from this, the increasing cynicism amongst the youth was eating into their sense of patriotism.Everything that represented Romania was perceived as flat-out wrong; this fact meant that Rom,supposedly bannering everything good about Romania, was fighting a rapidly losing battle. Page 5 of 8
  6. 6. Good Marketing – Good Storytelling twitter: @jardinedaviesIn a drastic marketing move, Rom mounted a widespread effort that involved exchanging the Romaniannational colors on the packaging for those of the American flag.They augmented this move with huge billboards and in-store gondolas brandishing statements like“Patriotism won’t feed you,” and “The American Dream now in the Romanian chocolate”. Digging into a growing, gaping wound, TVCs showed an English-speaking man telling the Romanians “We replaced the Romanian flag with the American one, so Romanians can shine on too!” These efforts effectively ignited public outrage that flooded online social media platforms to dizzying lengths. Debates, deliberately fed by specially- created teams, reached primetime media coverage. As a result, national pride experienced a sudden resurgence that sent shockwaves nationwide.After a certain amount of time, Rom came out to reveal the ultimate punchline: it was all a joke. TVCsshowed the same seemingly American man saying “Rom stays Rom no matter what,” national colors andall.By the time the campaign concluded, the marketharboured a renewed sense of national ego. And Romchocolate had reminded the people of what it stood for– a proud symbol of what it was to be a Romanian.A striking difference between Rom’s effort and those ofCoca-Cola was that in the case of Rom, efforts weremade not to change the story, but to remind people of it. There were no artificial statements, no gimmicky “The American Rom” efforts, and no betrayal to Campaign Presentation the original story. 2011 http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Tt9NBtW4sbA Instead, there was only a creative, radical move torekindle the love that once burned fiercely in the hearts of the market.A DIFFERENT VOICEIn the case of Bayan Telecommunications, the challenge was to put out a message that was uniqueenough to cut through the louder marketing efforts of the competition in the broadband market.The decision was to communicate to Internet users a message that at the end of the day they couldrelate to and understand. While the competition touted messages of price, speed and product features,Bayan opted to stick with prevailing opinion that the entire brand experience – from service installationto customer service assistance – was simple and easy. Page 6 of 8
  7. 7. Good Marketing – Good Storytelling twitter: @jardinedaviesTo reinforce this point, Bayan portrayed the experience of a particular consumer – a grandmother,better known as Lola Techie.From the get-go, the striking characteristic with this campaign was its uniqueness. The idea of using a 60-something year old grandmother as an active Internet user was a significantly new and thereby attention-grabbing concept. Through a series of offline and online advertising, Lola Techie was shown using the Bayan DSL service with ease and without hassle. Ultimately, the entire campaign hammered on the idea that the service is so easy, even a grandmother could use it. Another significant move by Bayan was to portray Lola Techie as arepresentation of every type of Internet user: the gamer, the web surfer, even the irreverent socialmedia enthusiast. In doing so, they effectively communicated to a wide range of Internet users using astyle and language to which they easily related.As a result, Bayan generated a successful integrated campaign that reached viral levels, at under10% ofthe competition’s advertising budget.The Lola Techie campaign illustratesthe importance and effectiveness oftelling a story in a language that themarket understands. Thecompetition’s dependence on claims ofproduct superiority and (paid) celebrityendorsements came across as forcedand ultimately fake. To the market,Lola Techie appeared as a genuinerepresentative of the everydayInternet user – just like them. A lesson to be taken from Bayan’scampaign is that telling a story in a “Lola Techie Integrated Campaign”unique, innovative and engaging Bayan Telecommunications, BBDO Guerreromanner is inarguably effective. A 2009brand need not be the loudest voice in http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jVNohEBxvE0the room. By merely using the correctlanguage and a distinct manner oftelling its story, a brand will eventually create an appealing impression that will draw in audienceswithout fail. Page 7 of 8
  8. 8. Good Marketing – Good Storytelling twitter: @jardinedaviesCONCLUSIONThere is more to being a good storyteller than having a good story. The key is to presenting the story in amanner that gives audiences an unforgettable experience and an enduring emotional connection.In the same way, marketing efforts require honest, consistent messages that ultimately generate lastingimpressions. By staying true to their messages, knowing their audience, and respecting existingconnections, brands can establish lasting relationships that will produce positive experiences from thecustomers.Artificial facades and rehashed storylines carry no appeal and can run the risk of alienating customers.The ultimate goal of the brand is to establish a solid identity and remain true to their message of what itis and what it represents. Without these fundamental concepts, any marketing effort will appearsubstandard, insubstantial, and weak.Finally, brands must understand that their relationship with their customers heavily depend oncontinually maintaining a pleasurable experience. It is from this experience that a brand, much like agood storyteller, makes its mark as an important, meaningful, and consistent part of the customers’lives. Edited by Andrea DuermeABOUT THE AUTHORDave Buenviaje is currently a marketing manager at Bayan Telecomunications, Inc. He has had 10 years of professionalexperience in the fields of marketing and business development.Some of his major accomplishments include winning Silver awards in the Young Marketer’s Categoryof the Cannes International Advertising Festival in 2010, and the Cyber Boomerang in 2011.He has a special interest in history, music and the literary arts. This paper by Dave S. Buenviaje is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License. Images and cited cases are sourced online and deemed as fair use. Page 8 of 8

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