February 10, 2017

When NOT to tell stories

I’ve noticed recently that supermarkets are jumping on the storytelling bandwagon. See this example, from Co-Op:

I have mixed feelings about it.

On the plus-side, at least they’ve tried. On the down-side, it’s a horribly dull story. I don’t feel like I really connect to Jean-Marc Brocard, the winemaker. It’s more of a happy-happy, joy-joy case study than a proper story.

(I hate happiness and joy!)

I don’t think I’m the only one who feels like this. Co-op published the video on 1st February. It’s been seen 721,000 times, and had 570 reactions. That’s a reaction rate of just 0.08%.

It’s like whoever does the marketing for Co-Op has realised that storytelling might be a good idea, but the story in this case is being used as a tactical fad. The story is being bolted on as a tactic, rather than used as a core strategy.

A story isn’t a magic marketing ingredient. There has to be a point behind the story. There has to be ups and downs, and maybe a little suspense. I don’t care if Jean-Marc Brocard makes wine and loves his wife.

As a general rule of thumb, storytelling isn’t usually an effective lead for selling commodities. Jean-Marc Brocard might view his wine as unique, but the average punter in Co-Op just wants to know whether it’s on offer.

If your business is unique and you sell high value products, storytelling should be a central part of your marketing. If you’re selling known commodities, I’d probably lead with your offer instead.

P.S. The best book on this is Great Leads: The Six Easiest Ways to Start Any Sales Message, by Michael Masterson and John Forde. It’s a short read, and well worth picking up.

Rob Drummond

Rob Drummond runs the Maze Marketing Podcast and Maze Mastery. Rob specialises in content production, ad creation, storytelling and CRM systems. He has two published books, Magnetic Expertise and Simple Story Selling, affordable on Amazon.