Avoid jargon, employ emotion, and use image-driven storytelling to engage your buyers
By Kate Carroll de Gutes, Vice President of Editorial & Content Strategy at Racepoint Global
In the height of the dot-com heyday, it seemed every company — technology-focused or not — offered a “robust, scalable end-to-end solution.” The phrase was so overused that I used to announce to my colleagues that I’d created a “robust, scalable end-to-end solution to relieve exhaustion.” I really meant that I’d fixed a fresh pot of French roast coffee.
Unfortunately, "end-to-end solutions" are still available today. They are still robust. They are still scalable. And they are still “full of sound and fury signifying nothing.”
To reach your audience — whether business or consumer — you need to market with the power of story.
1. It’s the stories, not the stuff
The problem with marketing jargon is that it fails to tell a story. Seth Godin, marketing guru, says that, “Marketing is no longer about the stuff you make, but the stories you tell.”
Do you really want an end-to-end scalable solution to solve pet hunger? Or would you rather feed your dog nutritious, grain-free kibble that contains no artificial preservatives, colors, or flavors?
A food that helps your best buddy to thrive. Real food for real dogs — the guardians and the jokers, the purebred and the rescue mutts. Wholesome food so that your best friend can walk, run, dig, catch a frisbee, and roll in the grass with you. Every day.
See the difference? The paragraph above tells a story. And even if you don’t have the word count or pixel space to tell an entire story, you can evoke an image that tells a story with 25 or fewer characters.
2. Paint a picture, feel the emotion
Every day, the average person is bombarded with thousands of advertisements. To keep our brains from imploding, neuroscientists say our brain filters out more than 90%. This means if you aren’t evoking an image or an emotion, people are simply tuning out your information. This applies to an advertisement, a blog post, or a solution brief.
Given this, it’s key to tune your audience in with image and emotion. Great stories don’t appeal to logic, they appeal to our senses.
Don’t just say your software makes people 10x more productive, show why it matters. “Talk” to your reader like it’s the end of the day and you’re both kicking back on the couch with a cocktail, and you’re celebrating finishing that big report, hitting the gym, and knocking out all your personal tasks too. See what I mean? Don’t you feel pumped, excited, and, ready for a promotion just thinking about how much you accomplished?
3. Be Like Yoda: Make your customer the hero of your stories
Often, companies want to make their own brand the hero. But whether you sell coffee or software, you are selling to a business or a consumer.
That’s your customer and they are the hero of any story you tell about your company. Your business is the guide to help the hero succeed, to help the hero solve their problem (or, find a solution, if you must). Think Yoda and Luke Skywalker. Luke is the hero. Yoda merely shows him the way, much as we might want to hear more of Yoda’s advice.
Once you embrace the idea that your job is to be the wise guide, mentor or coach, it will be easier to demonstrate the benefits your company and products offer to the real hero, your customer
The power of story
Jennifer Aaker, General Atlantic Professor of Marketing at Stanford University’s Graduate School of Business says that stories are remembered up to 22 times more than facts alone. So, the next time you’re tempted to describe your product as a robust, scalable end-to-end solution, consider these three points and remember that when it comes to customer-focused stories: “Do or do not. There is no try.”