Story Telling & “Selling”

What sort of story should a company tell to help sell it’s products? What should be shown? Traditional technology product marketing has relied on technology to sell technology. With technology now being so pervasive that no longer works and we have to actually engage the customer. Add to that the attention economy and this is something all marketers really have to prioritize. What sort of stories should we tell and how?

It’s true that showing off some of cool tech and devices can trigger the anticipated-emotional “I want that” response (envy, lust, covet). I would maintain however that’s the story of the company who made the product, and that whilst it’s an important part their strategy and tools and that those things should be shown that it’s not the story that should be told.

OK so you can argue that it’s simple product placement but this LA CIS episode with the Microsoft Surface that uses the Surface as a prop (shown) that supports the story (told) of the characters is a good example. It’s a good example because it’s in the context of a TV show it has to be subtle as subtle as possible, that’s a forcing function and it’s why I use it to help illustrate the point. The story being told is that of the characters and one that us as a viewer can project ourselves into. And the reason why product placement works is that we then imagine ourselves as that character using that product and the intent is for us to take that away from the sofa and into the store.

The best story telling is when we as marketers tell stories that resonate with our customers on an immediate-emotional level in personally relevant stories that attain and retain people’s attention (and we all know how important the attention economy, right?). By engaging them emotionally we then have them want to do the same thing with us (as per product placement). And because they relate to the story they are able to effectively have a ‘mind test drive’, a ‘try before you buy’ experience where they project themselves into the story we are telling. They then want the same ‘props’ in their lives, they want to buy and we don’t have to sell anything.

And as the Hopi Indian’s say “The one who tells stories rules the world”.


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