Before the Internet era, it was really difficult for customers to share their view of a specific product. Using word of mouth, a customer could reach a small number of relatives and friends.
Now things have dramatically changed. We live in a connected world. We are social animals and love to share experiences and stories. That is why Facebook is such a great product. Nowadays, marketing is completely about sharing stories.
All of us have different beliefs, opinions, views of the world or as I wrote in a previous post, different Ways to Think. Some of them are commonly accepted. Like home cooking is better or natural food is healthier.
Besides, we don't like to change our world views and therefore, we don't like people that try to make us change them. There is a scientific reason behind this. Generally speaking, we learn in two ways: imitation and innovation. We acquire knowledge by imitation when looking or listening to others. On the contrary, we obtain knowledge by innovation when we alone create something new.
Our brain has evolved to be very efficient and fast when doing comparisons and generalizations. So our main way to learn is by imitation. It is not a coincidence that we start our lives attending a school to learn how the world works, instead of trying to guess it by ourselves.
Furthermore, we spend less energy when imitating, so genetically we prefer it since energy is the currency of the Universe. Everything, from human beings to animals to plants, is designed to spend as less energy as possible. So it is not a good idea to try to market something that does not fit in the world view of your customer.
Our decisions are sentimental and our justification is logical. That is why Coca-Cola sells happiness and not its alleged benefits. They say taste the feeling. If a car is used to transfer people from one place to another, it would be logical to choose any car, however you care. It's not the same to drive a Ferrari than a Toyota. Even though I'm really happy with my Toyota Yaris, it's small, cheap and doesn't break too much.
The following video explains quite well how great leaders are able to inspire people and make us feel good when buying their product.
Marketing therefore should be focused on creating stories of a product that fit our world view and make us feel good.
As Seth Godin writes in their blog, a great story needs several components. I will just state those which I think are the most important:
A great story makes you feel good. We make decisions based on our senses and we all like stories that make us feel good and special. One of the greatest stories I've ever heard is the speech Steve Jobs gave at Stanford. He was able to connect with everybody and make us believe in the impossible because all of us have felt rejected some time in our life.
A great story agrees with people's world view. It is very difficult and time consuming to change people's minds. A good marketer should be able to detect the groups that share similar thoughts and values and speak to them in their own language.
A great story is authentic. If you are a cheater, people will know. If you are a lier, people will know. The only way to succeed is to be honest and live your story. Everything in your company has to be consistent with the story you create.
When I was trying to sell my company's visual recommendation system, nobody was doing something like that. Fashion e-commerce recommendation systems used only user data and didn't pay attention to the visual part of the product.
Our first client was a big corporation and I was able to sell the product because I created a great story that agreed with their view of the fashion e-commerce market. It makes sense to think that the appearance of a garment is a very important component when somebody wants a recommendation.
Furthermore, I never lied in terms of product performance. I could have told them that the product was perfect with an accuracy of almost 100% like many people do. But I was fair. I told them that the product was great but not perfect, and explained to them how we could improve it. They were really supportive.
Finally, I was able to create a feeling that we were creating a good thing for the customer. Not because I said it, but because I really believed that we were doing something that could benefit the customer. In the end, the experience was amazing.
The conclusion was that I didn't convince them to buy my visual recommender. I told them a story that was framed in their world view, so they convinced themselves that the product made sense and was beneficial for their users.
Many of the ideas of this post are taken from several books that I strongly recommend reading. All marketers are liars by Seth Godin, Rework by Jason Fried and David Heinemeier Hansson and Contagious by Jonah Berger.