“Marketers sell the drill. Consumers buy the hole.”
No matter how great a product is, it will never sell itself. People never buy the product itself – nor do they buy the brand. People buy the benefits and solutions that the product or brand will provide. Their motivation to buy comes primarily from the expected benefits and solutions.
Throughout my marketing consulting experience, there have been too many incidences where I have seen companies with well-established, iconic brands, forget that today’s consumers are generally well-informed and won’t give in to buying a common product with a recognizable name attached to it. Most business owners still think that they’re just selling a product or service. When business owners attempt to sell just products or services, they focus on portraying facts and informing.
Facts and information rarely motivate us. People aren’t prospects when they’re not motivated. Especially with the social media boom, where there is constant communication between brands and their consumers, people are looking for brands that embody human traits and are more receptive to their emotions.
What do I mean when I say that people don’t want to buy products, services, and brands? When businesses and marketers try to sell products, services, and brands, they focus on selling the features and the results, not the benefits and the solution.
When you tell me your new ab workout product will help me get six-pack abs, that’s a fantastic result… just what I want – except that’s what every other ab workout product is telling me. What differentiates you? The new instructional online video feature that comes with your product? That’s great, I’ll think about it. The result you provided, nor the feature you told me, hit me on an emotional level. I don’t feel an internal motivation to buy your product. If my logical mind convinces me, I MIGHT buy it. Now how would a strategic brand marketer sell an ab workout product? By emphasizing the SOLUTION and the BENEFITS. The solution that I will FEEL the enjoyment and confidence from being more attractive as a result of having the six packs abs. The solution that I will be relieved from feeling unattractive. The solution that I will feel healthier and more energetic. The benefit that by having six-pack abs, I will attract more girls, impress my friends, and feel worthy in my own eyes.
As a consumer, when I hear the benefits and solutions, when you make me feel the solution of buying your brand or product, you’re not longer selling me something, you’re making a promise to me. Now I’m emotionally connected to your brand and product, now I can hold you accountable, and holding you accountable gives me a sense of security in buying from you.
So how can brand marketers strategically and successfully portray the benefits and solutions of their brands to motivate their consumers? As consumers, our motivation comes from the brand promise, which conveys the satisfaction and the avoidance of our pain that we’ll feel when buying a particular brand or product. And one of the major ways that brand promise is communicated, is through the brand story.
The Brand Story
Essentially, what people pay for when they buy your brand, is the story. Brands that are successful in today’s world, are those that are embodying human characteristics. Just as how every human has a story behind them, a story that makes them who they are and who they are going to be, a brand is no different.
When we first meet someone who we’re genuinely interested in connecting with, what is the main thing that we’re trying to learn about them? When we ask each other ‘what do you do’ or ‘where are you from’ or ‘what got you into…’ or ‘tell me about…’, what are we trying to find out? We’re trying to figure out their story– because that helps us evaluate whether we can connect with them. And on a more superficial level, or even when company’s interview and hire, understanding people’s story tells us if that individual can be of value to us now or in the future.
Understanding people’s story can tell us, on a deeper level, how connecting with them will move us towards a solution or benefit that we want. In the same way, understanding your brand’s story gives consumers a sense of who your brand is, what you value, what they can expect from your brand in the future, and how your brand will help them reach the solutions and benefits they desire. If done right, you create a connection with the consumer, which is what successful brand strategy is all about.
The Life of the Party
We’ve all noticed that those individuals who seem to be the most interesting, most entertaining, most engaging, are usually those that are great storytellers. Your brand should be no different. The successful brand engages, entertains, intrigues, and connects with its consumer through storytelling. The successful brand is the “life of the party”.
If you think of your product’s category as a never-ending party, all brands in that category are essentially competing for attention. They’re competing to be the life of the party. The life of the party is the vortex that draws everything towards it. The life of the party connects with everyone – and the more it connects, the more it stands out to others. Make your brand the life of the party!
When the brand story rings true for the consumer, it contributes to how they feel. This gives your brand authenticity, and it ignites engagement and strong emotion. This is where the motivation to purchase rises from. Ultimately, you shift your consumer’s demand… and your brand equity rises.
Lastly, remember that as a storyteller you’re also being held accountable for your promise. Sure great story tellers get hired. Sure great story tellers make a lot of connections. It’s clear that they have communicated their ‘promise’ successfully to a company where they got the job, or on a social psychological level, to their friends and connections. However, you will find that sometimes even the greatest of story tellers only deliver stories, nothing more. They don’t deliver on their promise. And at the end of it all, they fall faster than they escalated.
If your brand tells a story, makes a promise, connects emotionally with your consumer, but doesn’t deliver… your story becomes compromised and your brand plummets. Without delivery and evidence, your story is nothing but a fairy-tale.