Earlier today I posted a bunch of tweets where I expressed skepticism about the idea of storytelling as it relates to marketing. I decided that I can't really expand on the idea in the 140 character Twitter universe though, so here it is:
Stories are good, but only if they are connected to the product or service that you're attempting to promote.
It's not that people don't enjoy a good story; they do. It's that if your story isn't related to what you're working on, it doesn't really get you anywhere. Let me explain that with an example - have you ever watched an ad on TV, and then sat back and asked the room: "What product was that for?"
Those ads are often celebrated by Madison Avenue types, but the dirty secret is this: they represent an expensive failure. If no one knows what the ad was promoting, the company that paid for it might as well have lit a stack of hundred dollar bills on fire. It would cost less money, and might have qualified as an amusing stunt :)
Disconnected stories suffer from the same problem. You might get praise, you might get readers - but you won't get prospects. Why? Simple - no one reading your disconnected story will relate it to what your company does, and a decent proportion of the people who read your disconnected story aren't interested in what your company does anyway. The raw number of readers just isn't that important - the number of readers trying to solve a problem your company can help with is. You don't want to get overly excited by the first number and lose track of the second one.
The important thing here is to keep your eye on the ball. The ball is "promote your products and services", and yes - stories are good. Those stories have to be related to your products and/or services though. If they aren't, you might as well be off writing the "Great American Novel".
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