The stories we tell.

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Again from Seth Godin, here's a great little post on Marketing. (It's good to hear it from the horse's mouth:)

Very rarely do we come to meetings and say, “well, here’s our cool new PBX for Fortune 1000 companies. It’s exactly the same as the last model, except the phones are designed by frog design so they’re cooler and more approachable and people are more likely to invest a few minutes in learning how to use them, so customer satisfaction will go up and we’ll sell more, even though it’s precisely the same technology we were selling yesterday.”

Very rarely do vodka marketers tell the truth and say, “here’s our new vodka, which we buy in bulk from the same distillery that produces vodka for $8 a bottle. Ours is going to cost $35 a bottle and come in a really, really nice bottle and our ads will persuade laddies that this will help them in the dating department… nudge, nudge, know what I mean, nudge, nudge…”

It would be surprising to meet a monk or a talmudic scholar or a minister who would say, “yes, we burn the incense or turn down the lights or ring these bells or light these candles as a way of creating a room where people are more likely to believe in their prayers,” but of course that’s exactly what they’re doing. (and you know what? there's nothing wrong with that.)

It’s easier to get people to come to a meeting about clock speed and warranty failure analysis than it is to have a session about storytelling.

We don’t like to admit that we tell stories, that we’re in the placebo business. Instead, we tell ourselves about features and benefits as a way to rationalize our desire to to help our customers by allowing them to lie to themselves.

The design of your blog or your package or your outfit is nothing but an affect designed to create the placebo effect. The sound Dasani water makes when you open the bottle is more of the same. It’s all storytelling. It’s all lies.

Not that there’s anything wrong with that.

In fact, your marketplace insists on it.

To find out how that post got started, click here.

My point for the last decade or so has been this: Marketing isn't all about the "message". Brands aren't about fresh coats of paint and cool logos and expensive advertising. No matter how many time brand shops will tell you otherwise, brands aren't about creative or media buying - which is why ad agencies are the last place any business should look for advice when trying to 'develop' a brand.


People, listen to me: Design a better PBX. Develop a tastier vodka. Don't just tell stories. Design products, services and experiences for your users that will make them talk about you.That's how you build strong brands. That's the foundation upon which you build your marketing and branding practices.

As a marketer, if you are only in the business of telling stories, you are in the business of charging a pile of money to deliver a whole lot of hot air. Regardless of how many awards you win for your brilliant work, you aren't contributing much to your clients' brands.

Food for thought.

Have a great Tuesday, everyone. ;)

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