Category Archives: Marketing

How to Use Storytelling in Your Marketing Message


Over the holidays we had relatives stay with us that live in France and as such, we don’t see them very often.  It was a relaxing time which gave ample opportunities to talk and share memorable events in our lives.  As we sipped hot tea (some of us having a nice malted beverage) and munched down fudge and party mix, the remembrances of the past came flowing out one after the other.  I was struck by how Tony related his experiences.  Every time he talked of an experience, he made the event into a story and I found myself being pulled into what had happened.  The mental images that he helped me visualize through his storytelling were so vivid that I felt I had lived the same experience.  I was captivated by the word pictures he painted and on a very emotional level, I could connect to what he felt at the time.  We laughed and enjoyed these stories well into the wee hours of the night.

We humans are a very relational species.  When other humans have an experience that is similar to one we have had, there is a bond created; an emotional connection that brings relevance and social camaraderie.  There is solidarity in our mutual experiences. Even if we do not know the other person, this solidarity enhances trust and brings forth from our subconscious memories, both remembered and forgotten, that are the foundation for the preferences and attitudes we now have.  Those very preferences and attitudes have strong effects on our buying decisions.

This is why it is imperative that you tell a story when communicating with prospective buyers, whether on the Internet, in a print ad, in a press release or even in your corporate mission statement.  You must be able to tap into that emotional connection that will take a buyer from being just interested through consideration to the decision to purchase.  And this is true whether you offer a product or service as well as whether your customers are individual consumers or other businesses.  It’s all about people relating to people.

As you know, most stories have basic building blocks:

  • A story has a plot that can be followed from beginning to end
  • A story has a hero (maybe your company, right?)
  • A story has a villain (not necessarily another person as it could be circumstances or inanimate objects that are villains)
  • A story has a problem that must be solved
  • A story has a transformational moment, when the problem is solved

In her book entitled “The Story Factor: Inspiration, Influence and Persuasion Through the Art of Storytelling,” Annette Simmons says there are six kinds of stories that can be used in building a brand:

  1. Origin – formation and background of the company
  2. Purpose – shows why your company is in existence
  3. Vision – where your company is going
  4. Education – so people can put your product in context
  5. Ethics – what you’re doing right
  6. Connection – with the company

So, what story can you tell about your company or product?  How can you use storytelling to make that all important emotional connection?

I’d love to hear your thoughts.

Pay for Marketing Based on Performance


I’m sure you remember in school the preoccupation everyone, including your parents had with grades.  Everything you did from homework, to studying for exams, to extra credit projects, or in rare cases the decision to cheat, was based upon making the grade.  Your entire future, you were told, hinged on your ability to achieve high marks.  And even though it may have seemed arbitrary, it was the teacher who determined if you had accomplished what they wanted and that you deserved a high grade.  Didn’t really seem fair?  It was our first real taste of life, now wasn’t it?

Advertising has traditionally been priced based on the model of how many eyeballs are estimated to actually see an ad.  The model of CPM (cost per thousand impressions) is the foundation for determining the value of ad time, placement, geography, location, space and medium.  But as David Koretz says, this form of pricing is doomed, in favor of a performance based model such as a cost per action (CPA) or a cost per conversion (CPC).  Although there are many arguments on either side of this debate, and this is good fodder for another blog, the concept of performance based pricing is not going to go away.

The marketing industry has struggled a long time with the concept of payment for performance.  The idea that the marketing firm should take the risk rather than the client is rather terrifying because it feels like too many things are out of the direct control of the marketing company.  What if the product being marketed isn’t that great and people don’t buy?  What happens when the economy goes into a tail spin and sales fall?  What if the CEO gets into trouble by doing something unethical or illegal?  What if……….  All of these are great questions.

My opinion, and I know it’s not going to be popular with others in my line of work, is that marketing companies and consultants should be paid (and fired) based upon their ability to perform.

This is my take and how I conduct my business.  I am going to make sure that there are clearly defined goals and expectations for all parties involved and that sound methods are in place for measuring progress.  I am going to put into place contingency plans just in case something unexpected happens.  And, I’m going to make damn sure that the product or service being offered by my client is good enough to be successfully marketed.  Lastly, if I am successful, I should be paid handsomely for that success.

Can you think of other products or services that we should pay for based only on performance?