Marketing in the Age of Story

May 13th, 2015 Posted by brand marketing, change, digital tools, Insight, retail brand relevance, storytelling, Transformation, Uncategorized 0 comments on “Marketing in the Age of Story”

What's Your Story?

Alert: we’re not really selling products anymore. The ground has shifted and the path to business growth has changed.

Today we’re selling stories; ones that lead first to engagement and then belief. The leap we must take is a considered move from an inward, self-reverential focus on product features and benefits to – helping. Said another way – brands must become useful and important partners with users by mining connections to what’s relevant in THEIR lives. It’s about them and not us.

Good stories always begin with experiences and ideas people resonate to, they recognize, respect and maybe enjoy.

Which sparks the question – then what’s the recipe for effective marketing in the age of story rather than selling? Here’s a major point: the product in many ways is the marketing. How can the brand and product speak for itself in an embedded, sensed, experiential way that affirms a dozen or more “moments of truth”? And how can this truth align with the consumer’s self-interest?

Here’s the recipe for effective communication in this environment…

  • Tell the truth or amplify truths.
  • Keep it simple.
  • Focus on relevance (to them)
  • Educate the audience.
  • Provide a call(s) to action.
  • Cultivate social proof (testimonial).
  • Make customers feel something (emotion trumps the analytical stuff).

These days the primary content medium for shareability and engagement is video. According to Nielsen, watching video on the Web has jumped by 38% from 2013 to first quarter 2014. It is a compelling, powerful storytelling vessel. How you do it matters. And the brand takes a backseat to the story itself. Here are some interesting examples of where we’re headed…


Emotion and meaning: Fisher Price


Fun and experience: Dogswell


Aspiration and possibility: IKEA


The great lesson of the era: sell the music not the guitar. Here’s how GoPRO sells their experience not the camera features:



Bob Wheatley is the CEO of Chicago-based Emergent Healthy Living. Emergent provides integrated brand strategy, communications and insight solutions to national food, beverage, home and lifestyle companies.  Emergent’s unique and proprietary transformation and growth focus helps organizations navigate, engage and leverage consumers’ desire for higher quality, healthier product or service experiences that mirror their desire for  higher quality lifestyles. For more information, contact and follow on Twitter @BobWheatley.

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