In 2021, the brands that tell the best stories will win in the marketplace. 

Today, consumers are more resistant to mass marketing gimmicks and are instead drawn to brands that feel more human and tell human-like stories.

So, why are people attracted to these companies?

Because people connect with other people, not “things.” 

And if your brand isn’t telling a story, then your brand is a “thing.”

We process and make sense of the complex world around us by telling stories. 

We relate to the world and the people around us by telling stories.

Since our businesses are run by humans, and we are selling goods to other humans, it only makes sense for us to connect with other humans in the most “human” way possible – through story.

Talk solely about your products, features and awards and you may find yourself struggling. Talk about your customer, their journey, and the problem you solve for them, you’ll give yourself a pretty good chance to grow.

What’s a story?

“Stories shall accomplish something and arrive somewhere.” – Mark Twain

It may feel like a new idea, but story has been around for millenia. Cavemen told stories on walls before language was written. Jesus explained the way the world works and the way that we relate to it through parables, or mini-stories. 

Story has long been a way for humans to make sense of this complex world. It’s a way for us to process, store and organize information. Stories actually create structure as a sense-making device in our brains!

The best movies and books are the ones that tell compelling stories. The personal memories that we keep for the rest of our lives are the ones that tell great stories.

Stories have the power to create adventure in our minds, to take us places we haven’t imagined yet. 

Stories have the power to stir affection and emotion inside of us. 

This is how we connect with other humans. In fact, it’s precisely what makes us uniquely human.

And the trend we are seeing in the marketplace is that consumers are drawn to companies that feel the most human.

Tell a true story in your business: Burt’s Bees

“Nearly 80 percent of consumers don’t trust corporate advertising in any form, and the percentage is even higher for younger customers.” Mark Shaefer, Marketing Rebellion

Being human in the marketplace shouldn’t be so difficult, since our businesses are run by humans. But it can actually be really difficult to stand out in the crowd as the more human company!

Here’s the best way to do it: align your message with what your customer actually wants, don’t sell them snake oil.

Every good company exists to solve a problem for the consumer. Great companies stick around for a long time because they understand this concept well.

Burt’s Bees’ mission statement reads, “What you put on your body should be made from the best nature has to offer.”

At first glance, it doesn’t seem very special but let’s take a look. 

This statement is 100% about the customer. It’s about what the customer wants and deserves and it opens a story loop for those who are interested in taking care of their skin. They might as well say, “You deserve to use the best, natural products and we will settle for nothing less than making sure that’s what you get.”

But the most important part about Burt’s Bees’ mission statement is that it’s true. They aren’t making false promises they can’t keep. They are simply meeting people where they are at with what they really want.

And they are doing it in a way that is compelling! What if they had instead said, “We make amazing all-natural skincare products.”?

While true, it would be really boring (and all about the company)!

The key to marketing your company successfully is first and foremost, to find out what your customers actually want and where they are at on their journey. Start by telling a compelling true story to your audience and inviting people to be part of it.

You have the power to incite emotion and adventure inside of your audience’s minds and in doing so, create lifelong raving fans of your brand. 

You just have to tell a good, true story.

Building A StoryBrand

“Story formulas reveal a well-worn path in the human brain, and if we want to stay in business, we need to position our products along this path.” – Donald Miller, Building a StoryBrand

I believe that the customer is central to our businesses. Without the customer, you have no business. Simply put, your business exists to solve a problem for people.

In Building A StoryBrand, Donald Miller introduces a simple seven part Framework for creating a narrative for your business that positions the customer as the hero of the story…not you. In this Framework, you are the guide that helps the hero (or customer) achieve a solution to the problem he/she is facing.

I can’t think of a more effective way to position your brand in our modern crowded marketplace.

In today’s environment, where consumers are tuning out to the usual mass marketing, telling a great story looks an awful lot like this.

Smaller brands are winning in the marketplace because consumers feel like they are buying from other people who are like them and understand them. Faceless corporations still employing mass marketing techniques are losing ground. 1

You are not the hero of your company, your customer is. That is how you build a clear, compelling, and effective story for your business that stands out in a crowd. Few businesses in the marketplace are actually doing this, but if you need buy-in from your customers (and you do), treat them like the hero!

If you’ve been reading this and the thought of creating a story for your company sounds amazing but overwhelming, start by reading Building A StoryBrand. (If you’re a business owner, message me. I will send you a copy of the book!)

In his dissertation, Dr. JJ Peterson determined the following about implementing StoryBrand:

“The more an organization implements StoryBrand in their marketing, the more they will see a positive influence on profitability, confidence of employees in creating marketing collateral, and saving time and money in marketing collateral creation.” 2

So Let’s Get It Right

Marketing can feel incredibly overwhelming. Especially as a small business owner or startup, while you’re wearing dozens of other hats! It’s really hard to know where to start and often, it just feels like throwing spaghetti against the wall. 

Messaging is foundational to good marketing. 

If you get your message right, if you’re clear on what you’re broadcasting to the world, your website, ads, social media, etc work more effectively and won’t be such a frustration.

That’s why it’s important to get your brand story right. 

Stand out from the crowd in 2021 by telling a story that actually resonates with your customers.

If you’d like help with creating a story for your brand that helps you connect with your customers, schedule a call with me. I believe in the small business owner and the dream of the startup. Don’t let marketing hold you back in 2021!

1: Daneshkhu, Scheherazade, (2018), Consumer goods: big brands battle with the “little guys”

2: Peterson, JJ, Dr., (2019), StoryBrand Narrative Marketing: An Examination of the Influence of Narrative Marketing On Organizations