Monday, January 21, 2019

“Tell Me a Story” Gets You Farther Than Facts

It’s a marketing truth that story telling captures your customer’s hearts. Recently, I purchased a toiletry item and was pleasantly surprised that it came with a back-story: the item was manufactured and packaged by disadvantaged people who have employment because of my (and thousands of others’) purchases. My satisfaction with the item already has a base of 4 (on a scale of 10) even before I received it because of the story. Maybe not every item can have such a noble back-story but it’s important. An article recently touts that Simon Sinek’s “Start With Why” is the wrong way to communicate to your customers—be they consumers, businesses, venture capitalists, etc.—and that the right way is to start with the story. The author postulates that people buy the story. It’s not the ‘why’ that captures your customer but the story behind the ‘why.’ Other marketing professionals have critiqued the use of Sinek’s tome similarly.

Starting with the ‘why’ might work for strategic planning but not so much with marketing. It’s important also that you’re honest with the ‘why’. In a recent Intelligence Squared debate on whether Silicon Valley has ‘lost its soul,’ it seems that the legendary startups weren’t created for altruistic purposes solely; the founders were also clear that they wanted to make money.

The danger in focusing on stories is that the story gets extrapolated to be generally true of the whole experience, the whole group...even of the whole universe. Suddenly anecdotes are the ‘data’ basis of decision-making. Don’t let it be. Just because the toiletry item has a great back-story doesn’t mean it is the best value (currently I happen to think so...) without getting more data.

Even though the story tells me the ‘why,’ I wouldn’t have purchased the item unless it seemed to also have great value. The ‘why’ didn’t sell me. As humans, we all want a good deal. We might appreciate that Panera Cares operated in such a way to try to feed homeless people if others would pay more for their own meal in order to subsidize the free meals but we don’t in general. We might appreciate Fair Trade goods but if they’re much more expensive than regular goods we don’t change our buying habits in general; we will once and that gives us moral license to ‘sin’ in other purchases. We might oppose slave labor, but we still buy our inexpensive t-shirts from companies we suspect utilize factories that employ ‘slaves.’

No comments:

Post a Comment