Tell Me, Don’t Sell Me
(1st of a series of blogs on marketing and communications)
Excerpts from my upcoming book on the power of narrative marketing.
“The single biggest problem with communication is the illusion that it has taken place.” George Bernard Shaw
That quote is more relevant today than it was when Shaw first said it, for we are now in the midst of a communications crisis of global proportions.
Some would say we have the internet to thank for that, but this problem began long before being online took over our lives.
Consider this. When it comes to communications, the dissemination of information is only half the process. The other half is comprehension, for without comprehension, true communications hasn’t really occurred.
How often have you asked yourself upon reading a press release or seen an ad on television and wondered what they were talking about.
As communication professionals it is our job to make sure whatever it is we’re saying, is being understood by the audiences we’re trying to reach. Yet, many of us have gone out of our way to make sure what we were saying was incomprehensible to those we were addressing.
Wall Street and the legal system have created their own languages to further baffle the public’s understanding.
But I’m not here to bitch about strategic miscommunications. After all, Wall Street and lawyers have made large and small fortunes by hiding their true agendas behind words and phrases that have little or no meaning to the rest of the world.
The subject I want to talk about is narrative marketing.
Ask yourself this question. Are you more likely to buy something that you know and understand?
I’ve been in communications more than 30 years, first as a journalist and then as a public relations professional and marketing consultant. One thing I’ve learned is that people have a hunger for knowledge and understanding so they can make their lives better.
If you’re a company trying to sell something, potential customers will pay more attention to what you’re selling if you tell them about something that helps them. A powerful way to do that is to combine the narrative story telling elements of journalism and PR with the controlled reach and frequency of advertising to create the new paradigm called narrative marketing.
By telling stories over and over again about something that will in some way improve the lives of your audience, in a way they can comprehend what it is you’re saying, will make those audiences more receptive to whatever it is you’re trying to sell. If you tell them something new, something they don’t already know that is also helpful, they are more likely to take action.
My goal is to teach PR people how to think like marketing people and teach marketing people how to use the narrative story telling techniques of PR as a method of building their brand. Hopefully, this book will show marketers how to get a better return on their investment by shifting some of their advertising spending into narrative marketing. (Next: A discussion about the power of narrative marketing)