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What story do you tell as a business?  Do you know what you like?  Have you thought about what kind of stories you are looking to hear from various businesses?  Is there a narrative that you love to hear?  That moves you?  For instance, the story of preserving nature is currently a powerful one for companies.  For many consumers, if you stick “organic” or “green” or “sustainable” on the package, they WILL buy it, no matter what.  Similarly with “fair trade.”

These folks may call themselves environmentally aware, granola, or even self-designate as tree hugger.  They are looking for a story that resonates with them, and they know what the story is.  Some are aware enough to realize that not all storytellers (companies telling their story) are being honest, though not all of them are.

For me, the story I want to hear is nostalgia and masculine.  Tell me that your product has been used for over 100 years and by manly men throughout history, and I’m gonna be interested.  Tell me that your product has a history…that fathers have given that product to their sons since World War II.  Tell me that if I were lost in the mountains, that even if I freeze to death, I will have some small comfort knowing that I have your product with me, or even that the best place to use your product is in a log cabin!  I’m a sucker for this stuff.  To market to me, read The Art of Manliness Blog and go and do likewise.  Watch Alone in the Wilderness, and design something for a guy who will never do the things in the movie, but wishes he could.

So, what do we need to think about here.  First, tell a story of some sort…don’t be a narrativeless company.  Second, I heard a well seasoned marketer say just yesterday that people typically remember 1 or 2 things about your brand, so you need to be very careful about what you communicate to them, so you have to know who you are targeting.  If you target me, tell me “history” and “masculine.”  If you target environmentally aware people, tell them a different story.  Seth Godin’s book Tribes might be a good read to help you understand these divisions and the stories that they hold so dear.  So tell a story, tell it well, and tell it with passion.   Last, ask the consumer to join you in telling the story.  Think of the power of 10, 100, or 1000 customers who have identified so much with your story that they are now promoting your product.  To find these people, you need a product that actually meets them in the midst of the story they want to hear.  This product and the services connected with it, must be one that they begin to embody, meaning they come back again and again for it because they see it as a part of their own story!  Then, you invite them.  You come up with a simple way that they mobilize to the story that you and they are telling together.