Now you might be wondering what in the world Shark Week could possibly have to do with marketing. It’s a good question. It actually all came together in a recent meeting where the Rogue team was discussing the idea that great marketing is not about the ‘thing’, but about the story.
Consider this: you’ve probably never encountered a real shark aside from an aquarium tank, but there’s a high probability that you’ve seen a surfer, a fisherman, or a diver sporting a shark tooth necklace. While the necklace itself is somewhat interesting to look at, it would be hard to call it beautiful or particularly valuable. That kind of jewelry isn’t exactly worn for any kind of decorative purposes or vanity, but it does tell a story about the person wearing it. Nowadays, you can find shark necklaces in any beach souvenir shack, or even being worn by trendy celebrities. So just how is it that the incisor of a shark would become such a popular fashion statement?
Long before today’s generations were around, and long before the Discovery Channel deemed sharks worthy of a week-long, binge-worthy TV takeover, ancient Hawaiians recognized the shark tooth as something symbolic. It was worn as protection from the dangers of the ocean.
And wouldn’t you know… it all came about from a story?
This story involves the myth of a young Hawaiian warrior who battled a sea god and lived to tell the tale. Thereafter, shark teeth were believed to be protection from shark attacks. This also gave the wearer a certain manly and dangerous appeal. Suddenly, a shark tooth meant more than a simple object that washed up on shore.
The myth was great, but what really popularized shark teeth as fashion, was the Jaws movie series. The movies are a timeless cult classic that gained the shark tooth necklace a place in mainstream fashion. Beachgoers and vacationers wanted a souvenir to remember their trip, and what better artifact could help them recall vivid memories and connect them in a personal way to the Jaws story? The ancient symbolism and history, combined with pop culture relevance made wearing a shark tooth relatable and desirable to a mass audience.
So what is the point of this story? Great marketing needs to tell a compelling story.
And what does a good story do? It conveys emotion, a point of view and draws you in… Sure, you can explain all the amazing features and benefits of your product or service (and you should) but if it lacks a real and relatable story, then its shelf life will be limited. So to create your brand’s story what elements should be included, and which will turn a good story into a great one?
The personal narrative can be defined by a few characteristics. Your audience must be able to hear their own narrative or insert their own personal dialogue into your story, or as a direct reaction to the story. (It should be a positive reaction) Get them thinking about themselves and their own thoughts in relation to your message. The main points of your story need to involve the audience personally, rather than coming across as a one-sided speech distributing information. Your listener also needs to be able to relay the story from their own voice. So in order to have the message spread clearly, it needs to be engaging and relatable. Have you ever tried to explain something that you just don’t get? It’s not a great result. Make sure they can personally share the story too.
Your audience must be able to feel themselves in the story. You won’t be telling them step by step where to go, but they should be able to follow along and create the journey in their own minds. Every journey should have progression, starting in one place and ending up in another, whether it be a physical place, a place of learning and growth, or a new state of mind or feeling. Usually, this involves some sort of minor plot or conflict. Why is your brand where it is now, and will your audience want to come along with you?
Relevance or Timelessness
What brings your story to mind over and over again is its relevance to a buyer’s world, and its ability to remain timeless in its message. Here’s a great example. You can probably recall and explain the message of Coca Cola’s “ I’d like to give the world a Coke” advertisements because the morals and themes are universal, timeless, and they continually updated the ads to remain relevant in the audience’s world. Contrast that to the New Coke promotion which dismally failed. There was no story, no real reason to even have New Coke. Everyone was happy with the old version, as evidenced by Coke’s current market share at the time. The commercials themselves relayed no message or story, just a celebrity drinking the New Coke and telling you to buy it.
When you get your story right,
your audience will never forget you.