The Future lies
in Story
Telling, not
Story Selling

Don’t chase me every minute and everywhere. I hate being followed around.

Don’t plead in front of me. I am in no mood for charity these days. Don’t keep asking me what I want. Many a time, even I don’t know what I want. Don’t try to satisfy me. You never can. I tend to move away from satisfaction very quickly.

We hear a tired consumer

Our work involves listening to consumers and we hear more and more consumers talk this language. Maybe not in those words, but definitely in that sense. We find a sense of fatigue emerging in the minds of the consumer attention space. Too many messages, benefit statements and potential pay-offs to digest. Too many choices to make and evaluations to do.

Too many brands, too many pitches

The consumer mind space has not increased to cope up with the ever-expanding amplitude of noise levels of the selling pitches. Certified by the best institute, created by five world experts, 32 antioxidants, 50 percent more attendance in school, three times whiter, 40 percent less corrosive, 20 percent smarter - the list is endless. Welcome to the RTB era of marketing, gloriously called “Reason to Believe”. Endless pitches to convince you and make you believe. Unfortunately, the RTB paradigm works with the premise of consumer disbelief. Hence, the need to convince them with a strong pitch of reason and rationality.

Marketing needs to move from ‘pitching’ to ‘storytelling’

The time has come for the brands to move from the business of ‘pitching’ RTBs to the craft of ‘storytelling’. Stories are at the heart of each brand. Consumers, in some sense, see their brands as stories – some stories are leaps of fantasies, some stories are about rescue and hope, some are about fighting back while some are about eternal love and romance. All brands are in essence stories. And once the marketers see themselves as storytellers, they will change the way they engage with their consumers. Everyone loves a good story. I haven’t met a person in my life who didn’t profess his or her love for a good story. Stories are simple, stories talk to people mythically, engaging them at a different level of imagination. Stories tell the message in a way in which the people want to hear. And the most important thing about stories is – they simplify complex things before it reaches the minds of people.

The Upanishads were too cryptic for the common man to understand. The sages, realising this, contemplated: how can we take the message of the Upanishads to the masses? Thus, came to life the Bhagwad Gita (a story which takes the message of Upanishad and blends it into an engaging saga of victory, loss, betrayal, pretense, bravery and wisdom).

Most of the major religions in the world have avoided the route of pitching and have leveraged the power of storytelling. And brands should draw their inspiration from them.

For marketers to become good storytellers, they need to take a short journey from their left brain to their right brain – from the world of logic to the world of magic. As consumer magicians, they must lean on concepts like faith, belief, symbolism, irrationality, transformation, revelation and alchemy. These magic tools help in making stories powerful.

Wise men over the ages have known that powerful stories are the best forms of sending messages to the masses. Today we need much more wise men in marketing.

Stories are told, not sold. People don’t seek a reason to believe when they hear a good story. Stories talk about people, their experiences, and their journeys and not about things. People want to hear about their heroes and their heroic deeds and not about the five things a brand has to offer with a percentage discount.

Stories are simple to understand. Hence people digest stories better than lectures.

Stories build memories. And memories build great brands.

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