There are many things that a company can replicate, from production methods, recipes, price, even websites. The one differentiator: the story customers tell themselves about you product/service/brand.
As many studies and professors have taught us, buying is tied to our emotions. The way to connect with buyers, then, is to do so on an emotional level. This can be accomplished through stories, which help to evoke emotions. These emotions speak to our needs as humans, and as defined by Maslow in his hierarchy of needs. There are many factors that can affect buying and buying patterns, but really resonating with a customer’s worldviews and needs can make a world of difference.
In regards to storytelling, needs are often defined in different terms than simply a basic need. It can involve the things that Maslow explains in his hierarchy of needs like the need for love/belonging, or the need for safety. Because these needs really direct our buying habits, it’s important, as a marketer, to recognize those needs and to speak to them.
For products that consumers don’t really need, like an iPod, Apple had to speak to the many needs associated with owning an iPod. There are needs to belong, to feel a sense of status, to feel like things are more convenient, or to feel a sense of accomplishment by being able to purchase something like an iPod. Moreover, Apple had to speak to the buyer’s needs for enjoyment that one can get from the iPod. They did an excellent job at portraying that through their ads that portray a silhouetted figure dancing to a popular song. For their sense of belonging, they ran (and continue to run) advertisements featuring the Mac and PC who have a consistent love/hate relationship.
What does your product say to the consumer? Are you really only sharing the features/product specs? These are important things, no doubt, but they don’t sell the product. Apple doesn’t even really need to tell a story anymore; it’s being told for them through people using their products every day, and most buyers already tell themselves the story Apple was trying to tell in the beginning: owning an Apple is cooler, different, and outside the norm. It’s also expensive to own one, so that can be part of the story they chose to tell as well.
Define your story and the story that your consumers are looking to be told. Pay attention to trends online; what are people talking about? What does your target market want in a product? If what you can offer in both physical attributes and need fulfillment through the story they will tell themselves, you may need to find a new target market. Figure out your story before you choose your target market, though, as that will help you to better shape your story. The reason this is such an important part of marketing is because these stories become true once the buyer begins to tell themselves it is. A company may have terrible service, but if the story everyone tells themselves involves excellent service, the service will be excellent in the mind of the buyer.
Do we really tell ourselves stories about things like computers, shoes, make-up, etc., that make us want them? Do these stories even really matter? I think the answer to those questions are ““, but I’m interested to hear what you think.