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Dave Franco

The Power of a Story – Part III

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If your company has a product and you’d like to boost its memorability in the mind of the target audience, there is one surefire way. In fact, you’ve already proven this surefire way in your own life many times over. Just check your dresser drawers in your room, or your shelves or the walls of your house.

There are things all over your home that you would have thrown away long ago if not for the story; the sentimental value attached to it because it was given by a friend or a parent or it was purchased when you were with someone you loved.

In fact, those stories are so strong, so meaningful, that no matter where you move in life, these mostly valueless items will come with you almost as if they own you and not the other way around. You would never and will never choose to be without them. They are a part of you. The stories have connected that deeply.

That’s what stories do.

A Chance for Dialogue

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Have you ever been at a party and you get introduced to some guy who starts talking and never shuts up? “He isn’t interested in me at all,” you think to yourself. All he wants to do is talk about how great and interesting he is. Of course, that’s just before you start looking for a way to give the dude the slip.

Advertising used to be that way. It used to be a monologue; a one-way conversation going in this direction: advertiser to target-audience. Today, because of digital marketing and social media, your target market and you can have a conversation. How exciting is that? Do you know how easy it is to make friends when two people are having an actual dialogue where they are sharing feelings and ideas?

Engage your audience; give them something they’ll want to talk to you about. When and however they do, listen, respond and invite more talking.

It’s always easiest to sell to a friend.

The Wrong Question

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I’ve noticed that most marketing meetings center around this one question: What do we want to tell the target audience about our product?

But that is the wrong question.

The right question is what message must our audience hear in order to be sold an idea?

A quick story. I was presenting ads to a university when they stopped me. “What we really needed to be saying is that the university spent seven million dollars on the construction of a new wing,” they said. “The chancellor would really like to see that in our advertising.”

Oh no.

It was a classic example of marketers talking from their point of view rather than the people they are trying to reach. Tell me this: if you were a busy, working adult who wanted a degree, what would be the more pertinent message? That the university offered convenient class schedules and an accelerated path to a degree…or how much money was spent on the new wing?

It’s tough to do, no doubt. Even companies who commit to asking the right question still find themselves gravitating to the wrong question: what do we want to say?

If you don’t believe me, try this. Next time you go into a marketing meeting, see whose point of view is talked about more: yours or your audience.

Ask and answer the right question, and watch sales rise.

Courting the Sale

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The great thing about finding a wife is that you can just walk right up to her at a party, introduce yourself and then ask her to marry you. Works every time, right?

Courting someone for marriage is a lot like trying to make a sale. There’s stuff you have to do in between the introduction and the proposal. You have to engage them and keep them engaged. And you can’t really let the cat out of the bag too soon. You can’t say, hey I’m really only doing this to try to get you to like and then marry me. No one likes to be a project.

What you must do is start a relationship. Tell them your story or stories. Give them a chance to like you, and sense that you’re real and genuine, and that you have a good heart.

Do this. Take your phone. Make videos of interesting things that come up in your business or life, edit it into something snappy, and then post it on all your social media channels. If you don’t see sales rise, not to worry. You’re just laying the groundwork for a great marriage.

Business and the Stuff of Life

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There have been people who have warned me that giving away the secrets of what my company does, as I do, is crazy. If our clients could take our processes, then turn around and do their own digital marketing, how did I expect to make any money, right?

Today, good will is currency. What we can give away finds a way of coming back—it may not always be in money, but it can be in friendship, or referrals, or longevity, or loyalty, or positive feelings that enhance morale, or…

Business used to be about dollars and cents. Not anymore. Slowly, it is transitioning to the point where companies are feeling freer and freer to be generous with clients—and generosity repays the giver with a sense of fulfillment, and who couldn’t use more of that?

That’s why we give our clients our secret sauce and offer to help where we can, more times than not, they will call us back and say No thanks. We’ve decided you can do it better than us. But every time, they are grateful. Gratitude, generosity, fulfillment, relationship…these are the kinds of things that will add to your life far more than money ever will.

The Power of Relatability

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It’s fairly easy to imagine that when the very first ATM was introduced, people felt uncomfortable taking their money out of a machine. They did, and it was initially a bust.

But a very forward-thinking ad agency out of Atlanta came up with an idea—to humanize the machine by giving it a voice. They hired the friendly sound of a voice actor named Sue Bennett (who later became the voice of Siri) who welcomed folks to the ATM and, off course, it caught on—changing nights out on the town forever.

But don’t miss the wisdom. To humanize a product is to make it relatable. That is what a story does. When you can add a story to your product, people have no choice but to relate. And suddenly, your audience feels they know you. And it’s always easier to sell to friends than to strangers.

The Power of a Story – Part II

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I had just moved to New York and I was in a guitar shop looking around—that’s you do when you’re broke.

Suddenly I saw the most beautiful guitar. It was a deep wine color with no inlay, no gold, no fancy rosette. It was simple and spectacular.

I was just staring at it and its dangling price tag turned the other way when the store manager walked up. “Beautiful, isn’t it? Have you ever heard of a Quinones guitar before?”

I hadn’t.

“They were a Spanish family that handed down their guitar-making business over a couple of centuries to the sons and grandsons,” he explained. “The final grandson came to Brooklyn and tried to make a go of it here, but sales struggled. He folded around 1965. That’s a ’61.”

Did he say they were a Spanish family? My family is Spanish. And did he say that that guitar was made in ’61? I was made in ’61!

I stood there shaking my head. There was no way I could get it. Even so, with my pulse rate peaking, I turned over the price tag. AUGH! It was worse than I expected. It was $800. I had $10.

But when I left that shop that day with my Quinones in hand, I had to play back the events of the day to figure out what had happened. Between the time I saw it on the wall and I took it to the cash register, it didn’t get more beautiful in appearance or sound. Yet something had to happen to make me spend money I didn’t have.

It was a story. Nothing else is that powerful.

Need Smart Ads?

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The age of digital marketing, where your online search data gives advertisers the ability to put messaging right smack dab in front of you, has created this conversation: does an ad need to be clever? Or can it just tell ‘em what you want to tell ‘em?

You don’t need to be clever. The mere sight of the product should catch their attention and create readership. But let that not keep you from putting in the extra time to give your ad a smart concept and design, provided the smartness doesn’t obscure your message. Here’s the thing. If you give your audience a smart ad, they make this association: Hmm, smart ad, must be a smart company.

You want that. It’s a meaningful addition to your brand.

So give the creation of your ad some time. Write something that makes them sit up in their chair. Or hire out of for it, and for heaven’s sake, let a designer take a wack at the layout. A poorly designed ad will work against you.

The Digital Age Brings Intimacy

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The digital age has brought with it, with all its astounding technology, the idea that the computers, not people, are running more and more of the world—and that may be true. But people forget that digital has brought marketers and potential buyers into a level of intimacy never seen before.

Because an online marketer is speaking directly to you, yes, you.

You are no longer treated as a part of a group. You are now an interested individual receiving messages you have indicated you are eager to hear. The messages are tailored to you—not the other people in your household, or your neighbors. Just you.

Your online behavior has created it. When the product you’ve searched has sent you an ad in response, it is meant to build a relationship with you.

If you have a product or service you’d like to expose, do it with digital/online marketing. And a have a good story to tell. Like any good relationship, you’ll have to give something of yourself to gain their trust.

The Digital Shadow

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If there are any of you who are not yet hyper-impressed by the miracle of digital marketing, please, take a moment to marvel.

How ever advertising/marketing began, whether a flirtatious glance or an etching on the side of a cave, marketers have been trying to figure out how to reach the most people ever since. For thousands of years, the basic function was marketers trying to attract their audience to them; a stationary target trying to get attention.

But digital marketing has changed all that. For the first time, marketing messages actually follow you. Based on your personal data compiled from your online behavior—searches of certain products—a marketer’s message goes where you do—because you’ve already verified you’re someone interested in what they have to sell.

Search a certain type of shoe and it can show up as a banner on your next search. For a good price, too. Hmm. And what’s this? Free shipping?

Of course, you may be one of those who does not want to pester your audience into submission. Forget that. Your competition is following your target audience like a shadow. You need to get in the game.