For business owners everywhere it is important that we understand that there is a marketing crisis facing our ever-changing business environment. Ads, the life blood among the variety of marketing tools is disappearing into the forest of paid subscriptions and ad blockers. Millions of consumers have had enough with interrupt advertising. According to paid experts who track these statistics. Many consumers are gone and perhaps never coming back. Soon, our news, music, sports, and the rest of the entertainment that we enjoy throughout our daily lives will be ad-free, leaving businesses in a marketing crisis that will adversely devastate small businesses and the entrepreneurs that operate them. According to these experts, consumers under 40 sneer at interrupt ads, considering them braggadocios, deceitful, manipulative and ultimately, intolerable. In fact, over the last 5 years, traditional television viewing has dropped 30 percent as consumers head to the exits. Media outlet everywhere are feeling the crunch. No longer is the push strategy of bragging and promising working as more and more marketing campaigns turn to the pull tactic of effective storytelling.
Entrepreneurs, we’re living is a rapidly changing business environment, a milieu that will certainly vanquish the hopes of small business entrepreneurs if the situation is not adequate understood and countered. Perhaps you’re thinking that your approach to marketing your business can will not become subject to the earthquake like shifts observed today. Listen, this is not something new. Technology has already vanquished giant brands like Blockbuster video, Tower Records, Radio Shack, Circuit City, Howard Johnson hotels, KB Toys, Borders, and more recently, Sears and Roebucks. And many more are likely to fall victim before the next presidential election. This is a problem whose solution has been as elusive as curing the common cold.
Now enough with gloom and doom. The question that is perhaps twirling around in your head is what can we do about it?
First, we must do is not panic. What did Franklin Roosevelt say in his first inaugural Address after being elected the 32nd President of the United States in 1932. “The Only Thing We Have to Fear is Fear Itself. The point is that fear and panic will not solve the volatile changes entrepreneurs are facing today.
Now there is a bright side to our present dilemma that I’m extremely optimistic about. There is a particular concrete solution that has been tested and has produced promising results. However, there are a few questions we must answer before it will resonate as a credible solution.
The basic and perhaps most important question that we, as entrepreneurs, must first individually answer in order to plot out an effective action that will enable us to succeed in overcoming the eminent threat to our entrepreneurial ambitions is: What is the primary object of my/your desire? What is it that that I ultimately want my business to give me. Perhaps this is a selfish question. But if you want to be true to yourself, and not travel down a series of fruitless circulative paths, it is important to answer this question.
I concede that there are perhaps many ways to answer this question. In fact, you might choose to first list the objects of your desire, and then after careful review, a selection is made. And you tell yourself, “Self, this is what I desire most.
Well, what I’d like to do, is offer you a process that might help you to not only arrive at the most authentic answer to the question, but also equip you with discovering the primary object of desire for your client/customer. And in additions, how to succeed at delivering both your want and their want. simultaneously. Its a win win proposition.
You’ve heard the old often used real-estate cliche, “Location, Location Location. Today, for the purpose of providing you with a timeless answer to the entrepreneurial dilemma I’ve described, I’m going to replace this adage with a two syllable solution: Story, Story, Story.
In this presentation I will suggest that you are the story, you tell the story, and your client/customer relieves the story you tell. It’s purpose-told story.
Now before we embark upon where I’m going with this approach, we must first lay a foundation to make our joint experience clear and ultimately rewarding.
In order to do that I am going to intertwined my entrepreneurial story with a little bit of history and psychology that I hope will keep you interested and curious enough to what to know how this story will end.
Though I will be sharing my story, more importantly, I will be sharing a universal understanding that underlines what a story is and is not. And why story, specifically, why the purpose-told story is able to enhance the quality of your life. That is the reward I am hoping will be the result of our joint experience.
Advertising is a story of Addition
Advertising in the 1700s (Newspapers)
Printing required license from the Crown
Newspaper revenue depended upon subscriptions
Ads begin to appear in the back of Newspapers
Ads became interdependent
Benjamin Franklin (Pennsylvania Gazette)
Taught business leaders the fine points of marketing
Patron Saint of Advertising
Interruption discovered (brand message)
Intrusion forces message into consumer’s consciousness
Local, regional, national
Marketers became nervous
Consumer Revolt (Internet connected the globe)
Netflix subscription platform
Banner Blindness and Blocking
The Marketing Crisis
Consumers object to interruption (snake oil salesman)
Promises don’t line up with reality (Asthma Cigarettes)
Two Types of Marketing Deception
Rational Communication (Rhetoric)
The best soap floats (provokes skepticism)
Two primary emotions
How Pleasure Works (what matters most) What we think
Caltech study ( Perception) fMRI
Sticky (Attention, Empathize, Meaningful)
Hook, Hold & Reward
Evolutionary adaptation to consciousness
The human mind (consumers listen)
Brodmann area 10
Self-awareness (self to self)
Life spent alone
Second human thought
Someday my time will end (fear)
Truth (how and why things happen)
Making sense out of existence
The Story Making Mind
Chaos and dread of death
Change grabs our attention (threat or good luck)
Recalling past events for possible outcomes
Focus is on meaningful dynamic change (core value)
Values pump the lifeblood of story
Emotional charges (meaning marked in memory)
Meaning (understood rationally and emotionally)
The form of story
Core value expressed in characters life in balance state
Balance becomes upset
Actions made to restore balance
Positive to negative, negative to positive
Humanity learned hot to survive with purpose
Story: Conflict Changes Life
A dynamic (characterized by constant change, activity, or progress) escalation of conflict-driven events that cause meaningful change in a characters life.
What stories are not: JP CHN
Story is not simply a narrative: narrative is not precise enough. While all stories are narratives, not all narratives are stories. Stories are value-charged and progressive. Stories stick.
Story is not merely a Journey: The protagonist of a well-told story is not a passive passenger. He or she struggles dynamically through time and space to fulfill their desire.
Story is not a chronology: chronology is a process. When a corporation recites their company’s history they put forth a series of growth marks accumulated over a sequence of dates. That is not a story.
Story is not a hierarchy: when a corporation tells their story in these terms they merely describes how things get done, how decisions and task flow up and down the pyramid of power. But what they are communicating is a process. In this case, a vertical process. Hierarchies supplant chaos with order but do not tell a story.
Story is not process: auto parts moving down an assembly line is a process, a horizontal process to either assemble or disassemble but unlike a story, a process has neither a desire nor a conflict nor a core character. And as a result, no one’s life is touched or changed. A process accumulates; a story progresses
Stories are three words: Conflict changes life.
If we were to dissect every coherent story ever told, eight essential components, assembled over eight stages, would span the creative process from beginning to end.
Event Design: this is 3 through 8 stages
Protagonist’s Actions Versus Antagonistic Reactions
The life of a well-told story can be broken into eight stages of creative preparation and dynamic change. The success of each stage depends on the execution of its defining principle.
Before an author composes his story, he needs a clear vision of his audience and the final effect his work will have on both their thoughts and feelings. This is the first stage.
Stage Two: The protagonist’s life is anchored in a core value that rests in a state of balance. World-building is important and Time and Setting must also be considered here.
Stage Three: Imbalance – the inciting incident. This upsets the balance of the core character’s life, either negatively or positively.
Stage Four: Object of Desire, the Prime Principle – An Unfulfilled Need.
Once the protagonist realizes that the inciting incident has thrown his or her life out of balance, they naturally want to set life back on an even keel. Hence they identify an object of desire. This is central to all stories. The core character feels that he or she must obtain that which will rebalance life.
Stage Five: First Action – the core character takes an action, a tactical choice designed to cause a positive reaction that will either deliver his object of desire or at the very least move him toward it.
Stage Six: The First Reaction – Violation of Expectation. Reality violates the core character’s expectation. Antagonistic forces appear to be more powerful than anticipated as it attempts to block the protagonist’s efforts. Belief does not line up with reality. The unforeseen reaction knocks him or her back even farther from the goal.
Stage Seven: The Crisis of Choice – Insight. The protagonist stands to lose rather than gain the object of desire. He must therefore learn from the first reaction. In learning the protagonist takes a second action informed by insight, yet the second is more difficult and more risky than the first yet he hopes it will cause a positive reaction that will finally get him what he wants.
Stage Eight: Climactic Reaction – Closure
In a compact story, the protagonist’s second action causes a climactic reaction that finally matches his or her expectations and grants them the object of desire. This climax restores the core character’s life to balance and ends the story.
Stage One: Target Audience = A Meaningful Emotional Effect
Stage Two: Subject Matter = Balance
Stage Three: Inciting Incident = Imbalance
Stage Four: Object of Desire = Need
Stage Five: First Action = Tactical Choice
Stage Six: First Reaction = Violation of Expectation
Stage Seven: Crisis Choice = Insight
Stage Eight: Climactic Reaction = Closure
The obligatory scene occurs at Stage 3
The object of desire occurs in stage four. It is the unfulfilled need.
All stories dramatize the essential human struggle to move life from chaos to order, from imbalance to equilibrium.
Principle 1 for Stage four is the characters first action and it is a tactical choice and it is unique to anyone else in the same situation or it could be unique. This first action is fascinating to the hearer of the story.
Principle 2 for stage four that is that a person with ovoid unnecessary risks. They will take only the action necessary for obtaining the object of desire. The ultimate object is to regain balance
Stage six – Physical obstacles, Social Obstacles, Personal Obstacles, Inner Obstacles
The purpose told story will provoke the audience to relive their storyfied experience in the real world every time they purchase the subject product or service.
Stories raise our quality of life.
Well-told stories create two simultaneous experiences that mirror each other: one mental, the other emotional.
A stories inciting incident
Mental mirror – curiosity: What is going to happen next. Will the protagonist obtain his object of desire. This begins and ends with curiosity.
Shakespeare once said, a story holds a mirror up to nature.
Emotional mirror – This experience begins and ends with empathy.
Identification is the first of three steps taken with a purpose told story. When a consumer recognizes a shared humanity between themselves and the protagonist instincts follow the logic of kinship. Because you empathize with the character you will want the character to get what they want because you would want the same thing for yourself.
The subconscious switch is the second step. Events are experienced as though they were happening to the audience member. The audience experiences though vicariously the change from negative to positive and from problem to solution.
It is this switch from fictional to personal that explains how and why the well-told, purpose told story delivers results with staying power.
The third step which only the purpose-told story takes is the reenactment. The consumer’s mirror experience motivates her to action because they are driven to relive the positive charge or the purpose-told story. She purchases the product or hires the service.
The purpose told-story moves through the same eight stages that a fiction-told story moves through but with an eye on creating a mirror experience (rational and emotional) that moves the consumer to a profitable reenactment. Thus, the arc of the purpose told story guides the consumer from an absence in their life to the fulfillment. Hence, from need to satisfaction. Just as the protagonist’s desire and fulfill their want so too through the emotional empathy felt by the consumer there is the belief that the consumer will be able to fulfill their own desires.
First stage start with Step one – Research Target Audience. (age, gender, education, income, etc.)
Step two – Define Need, Want, Problem: You must ask the question, “Where does it hurt?” You have to speak to the unspoken needs of the consumer. To find your story’s target need, ask, “What is my customer’s pain? What does she or he need but perhaps not know they what they need? What hidden problem cries out for solution?
Step three: Design Target Action – consider what specific action that you want your audience to take.
If you are telling story B2B, you want your client to sign a contract.
If you are telling a purpose-told story B2C, you might want your customers to pick up an over-the-counter item.
If you broker big-ticket items, you might want customers to visit the showroom so your sales team can do their thing.
If you offer a professional service, you may want consumers to visit your website and make an appointment.
If you run a branding campaign, the target action takes place in the mind of the audience member, as she goes from brand-ignorant to brand aware, or, if necessary, changes her perception from negative to positive.
You must define a purpose for your story. That is why it is called a purpose-told story. The mistake that many marketers make is that they do not bother to define a purpose, instead, they brag, they promise, they beg “Buy now!”
Stage 2 & Binaries
Step one: Discovery of the Core Value – remember that you discover the consumer’s unfulfilled need in stage one. This therefore should easily segued to the first step of Stage 2. That is, identifying the core value that best dramatizes the solution to the problem of unfulfilled need and thus cure their pain. In addition, core values are wrapped in binaries.
Binaries are not mono they are something having two parts. Hence core values have two parts. For instance, positive/negative value charges. These binary value charged experiences are, for example, success/failure, truth/lie, loyalty/betrayal, love/hate, right/wrong, rich/poor, life/death, winning/losing, courage/cowardice, power/weakness, freedom/slavery, excitement/boredom, self-criticism/self-appreciation and of course, many more. These values pump the life blood of a story. CEFLLLPRRSSTW
In stage 2 you must choose your subject matter. Subject matter for brands fall in to approximately five categories or genres:
Step two: Choice of Protagonist – all enterprises can be grouped into one of three categories: Resource exploitation, product creation or service performance. These are functions.
The resource centric function – natural resource or raw material. These companies usually are able to gain monopolies and therefore, they are B2B marketers that make their company the protagonist of any story told about them. This kind of story is quite hard to deliver in a purpose-told story as it demands a brilliant creative leap.
The Product-Centric Company – it triumphs by creating a better-functioning, better-looking, and more convenient, more durable product. Marketing stories often cast the product as the core character, personified as a voice, personality or archetype.
The Service-Centric Company – outperforms its competition by providing superior service. When it is successful the end user of its:
Medical – healthier
Financial – wealthier
Legal – safer
Service pros devote their talents and skills to making life better for the consumer. Hence the professionals here are cast as facilitators not has the hero. In this approach, the core character is the consumer.
The above the casting strategies served as guidelines for marketing stories throughout the last century.
Everything changed once shoppers were able to rate retailers as they sometimes thanked them and often times denounced them. In this scenario word of month became instantaneous and even viral. This lead to consumer centricity for modern marketing. Consumer-centric storytelling marks a positive evolution in world commerce.
The Empathy Imperative –
People do not identify themselves with power.
The point has to come that when your story’s inciting incident upsets the balance of your protagonist’s life, the audience should sense that she is up against powerful antagonistic forces. Thus, the perception of underdogness draws empathy faster than any other cause. Whatever you cast as your protagonist, do not brag about its newness, its hipness, its celebrity. The world spares no empathy for an overdog;
Step 3: Creation of Setting – Social and Physical Location: Wherever you physically and socially set a story defines and limits what is possible in the story.
Location and Duration in Time – should be set in a realistic contemporary world. Time allows marketers to use as much or as little of the protagonist’s life as needed to craft their story.
Inciting Incident – this throws the protagonist’s life out of balance by changing the core value charge sharply to either positive or negative. It is clearly to be used to get or grab the customer’s curiosity. It raises the question that only the climax can answer. “How will this turn out.”
No matter how you characterize the protagonist, his reaction to the inciting incident. Should draw the audiences empathy and emotional concern placing him at the center of good. Remember by doubling the involvement via both curiosity and empathy, you’ve entered into a story of suspense which lays the groundwork for the surprise that springs loose in stage five. What is more, the sudden reversal of fortune in the protagonist’s life mirrors the customer’s life and reflects his target need, the unsatisfied desired that the marketer discovered while researching the story’s setups. This is a hook. This needs an example and could be the SELAE example
Object of Desire – this focuses the audience’s attention and curiosity and empathy towards climax. This will restore life’s equilibrium. The protagonist conceives of the specific goal or objective – the object of desire. What exactly does my brand, corporation, product, or consumer want. Also ask, how does this object of desire relate to the core value (just/unjust or rich/poor) of the story. And how does the story’s core value relate to my company’s core value? The answer should not be divorced from one another. Values and desires must reflect each other and unify the story with the company that produces it.
The First Action – This is the protagonist’s quest to reach his object of desire. Hence, the core character takes an action based on his best sense of expectation. The story’s creator must research the psychology of his core character in depth and detail. Ask this question, what would my character want. What would he expect to happen and what would he do to make it happen.
The First Reaction – This stage which is a reaction to the protagonist’s first action violates the protagonist’s expectations. Thus a gap of surprise cracks open between what was imagined would result from the first action and the reality of what actually happened. Developing a compelling story means developing a conflict that relates to your audience, mirroring the positive/negative duality of their lives. But what happens is that conflict compels the protagonist to reach deep within themselves, to make a tough choice and then act.
From the audience’s point of view the the protagonist’s struggle mirrors their own struggle which should focus their attention, deepening their involvement, and inspiring a purchase. Marketing stories move from problem to solution. A positive climax mandates a negative setup.
The Law of Diminishing Returns – repetition kills impact. Story enemy number one is repetition. Enemy number two is vacuity.
Negaphobia: The Fear of All Things Negative-
The Principle of Negation: A compelling marketing story encompasses the negative of life.
Crisis Choice: This stage brings the story to its crisis which is the highest level of tension and suspense. The action made here will be the result of a new founded insight which comes into view when the protagonist re-traces her steps in order to understand the cause of this violating reaction experienced at the stage 6 level. The protagonist therefore, choses a new risky tactic that she hopes will deliver her object of desire. In a marketing story the protagonist gains enough insight to make a clear choice of what to do to get what she wants. The world’s next reaction will answer the major dramatic question. HOW WILL THIS ALL TURN OUT?
Climatic Reaction: This stage delivers the goods. The protagonist. The protagonist’s second action in Stage 7 evokes a positive reaction from his world giving him his object of desire and reestablishing life’s balance. It also dramatizes how audiences members can solve their mirror problem in their own lives. How they too can obtain their need, their desire.
The Open-Mind Moment – A sudden rush of meaningful emotional insight, a flash of “I get it”! A flood of charged understanding opens the mind. Neuroscientists have measured this open-mind phenomenon and found that it last six to eight seconds. In this moment, anything that is presented to the mind lodges in its memory. Here is where the wise marketer plants his logo.
The Call to Action: The effect of the open-mind moment turns the entire story into a massive call to action that sends the audience into the real world to duplicate the protagonist’s triumph. Wanting to relieve the mirror story a purchase is made or a service is hired.
How does a story create meaningful value change? Through conflict is the answer
Life contains four levels of conflict.
Physical – hurricane, disease, the ticking clock of time
Social – struggles against institutions, discrimination, red tap, or power plays
Personal – antagonisms inside intimate relationships
Inner – wars within the mind over conflicting desires
Dove’s commercial represents inner conflict – self-criticism versus self-appreciation
iPhones Christmas commercial represents personal as it pivoted around a misunderstanding within a family.
The key to decision making is emotion. The only emotionally targeted question that should be asked is “how do I want my customers to feel?”
The object of desire must me your product or your service. This the lead generating story. Because the protagonist achieving their object of desire, in part is done with the help of what you are selling.
Deterioration, discard, and downfall and condemned, destroy and fail are the opposite words for redemption or restored. It really means to include and therefore is opposite is the exclude.
Technology driven solutions.
Select topics that will fascinate your audience and satisfy them with insights and information that they need.
Hire the best talent you can find to dramatize these subjects into compelling stories
Sustain that excellence over time.
If you skillfully execute these three things, your marketing will build a wide and faithful audience.