Marketing Through Storytelling: Build A Program Around A Story

Kristine Lonergan
Kristine Lonergan

Much like a true page-turner, successful programs have the opportunity to tell an appealing tale. A great story has the ability to capture the attention of the consumer, even if it’s for a few moments. And really, a few moments are all you need to provoke an impulse to buy. Use these six steps to craft your own story and launch a successful marketing program.

1. Identify Your Market

The first step is to find out who your “readers” are. Which customers are you targeting? For example, if you’re building a program around vegetables, you may want to target consumers who are health conscious. The green and buy local movements use a narrative to get people onboard with their missions, and you can do the same. Think about constructing a character that fits the story (a mom who values organic produce, kids who like harvest veggies from the garden). By doing this, you give your customers a model for who they want to be in your story.

2. Research Your Story

Do you have any proof that there is market demand for the item? If you don’t, your story may not be worth telling. Related trends in the marketplace are a good sign of demand. Sticking with the home-grown veggies idea, you might find that there is a strong locavore movement in your area. If so, your story becomes relevant to the consumer you are targeting. This is what you want and need in order for your program to be successful.

3. Don’t Re-Tell A Tried Tale

Do your homework to find out what the competition offers in the same category. How will your product be different from the competition? Before sitting down to craft your narrative, make sure your customers haven’t heard this one a million times already. If they have, you need to work extra hard to make your program stand out with something that is not presently flooding the market. Some ideas might be to address real customer questions in your POP materials, offer plants in a reusable container or host a contest where customers can submit pictures of their vegetables that will be used on future displays.

4. Recognize Consumers’ Values

The key to this step involves gathering real customer feedback. Health conscious individuals want to understand the benefits of growing their own vegetables. This is where your story begins. Your plot should include the health benefits of growing your own vegetables, recipes, healthy lifestyle tips, cost savings and more. One way to inject values and interests into the narrative is to use compelling photos. Lifestyle shots that feature your character should adorn the point of purchase displays and product packaging. Pictures always help to reinforce the story’s message.

5. Make A Clear Offer

The minute someone misses the moral of the story or gets lost in the plot, the book closes and they walk away. This can happen when consumer misunderstands the story you’ve created for them, so it is especially important to clearly state what you are offering. Before the customer gets to the end of the story, they should know something about the type of vegetables in the program, whether they need to buy fertilizer, if they should plant in sun or shade, how many vegetables it yields, what it costs, etc.

6. Have A Happy Ending

Few people like a story that leaves them hanging. If you’ve told a good story, the consumers will know how the product fills an existing need. When a product doesn’t fit into their life or lifestyle, they ultimately spend money on something that does. The goal is to tell a story that will inspire consumers to buy. And when the story ends, the customer should feel good about their purchase.

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