What If Marketers Wrote Fairy Tales?

Chances are, they wouldn’t be quite so mesmerizing…

Since, well, forever, people have been telling stories. Some of the most famous ones have endured centuries – perhaps with some rework, but nonetheless telling a consistent tale.

And let’s not kid ourselves. Even though many of these stories have become big ticket entertainment, at the start they were all trying to sell something other than books or movies. They were selling a moral code, a way to live, a way to behave, a way to dream that was in the best interest of society and the individual.

There is something to be learned from the way these iconic stories are structured and told – and, unfortunately, most marketers have yet to learn it…

Brand ManageCamp 2015 speaker Jonah Sachs has done a lot of work on this subject. In fact, he wrote a book – Winning The Story Wars. What he found was that most enduring and impactful stories – from ancient mythology to the fairy tales of the Grimm Brothers to movies like The Matrix and Star Wars – follow a similar (if not exactly the same) STRUCTURE. And it is this structure – brought to life in a familiar sequence – that helps them survive, entertain and even teach/sell.

The structure of the successful story as it relates to marketing revolves around empowerment (instead of inadequacy) and involves consistent elements such as a HERO that embarks on some sort of JOURNEY, a MENTOR (that provides a valuable GIFT that enables the HERO to achieve success in the JOURNEY), a MORAL, and core VALUES. There are also many more ingredients of successful myths – such as “symbolic thinking,” “story, explanation, and meaning,” and “ritual.” (All way more than can be covered in a blog post – I’ll let you learn it from Jonah instead…:)

Now, none of this may seem very surprising to you. However, many branders have, especially of late, missed out on the translation of the success pattern of stories into successful marketing.

Here’s an example: who is the HERO in your brand’s story? If you said your brand….you may be wrong! The HERO, according to Jonah, is not your brand or your company – it’s your AUDIENCE. They are the ones on the journey and your brand’s role is that of the mentor who is there to provide a gift to empower the HERO to successfully complete his/her journey…

Of course, this is just one small piece of the puzzle. The point is, though, that stories are an incredibly powerful medium to connect with your audience and deliver messaging that empowers, excites, and inspires.

I can’t tell you how excited we are to have Jonah Sachs speaking at Brand ManageCamp marketing conference about how to Win The Story Wars. I hope we will see you there as well…