Stop Selling. Start Storytelling.

A few weeks ago while attending the Florida Governors Conference on Tourism with our client Visit Sarasota County, I had the opportunity to listen to a presentation by Jonah Berger. Berger is a professor at The Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania and best-selling author of Contagious: Why Things Catch On.

His concept is straightforward. Turn your customers into brand advocates, and then they will do the targeting for you. In order to be effective marketers, we must master the art of creating stories to carry our message – stories are the currency of conversation. Sounds simple enough, right?  But anyone who’s ever attempted this knows it’s a lot more complex to execute, especially in today’s world where the next best thing is just one minute or click away. Berger packages his key principles into a few steps – or STEPPS:

1Contagious)  Social Currency – Refers to the things we say and share and how people see us. Tap in to the inner remarkability of the product or service.

2)  Triggers – The key here is that if something is top of mind, then it’s on the tip of the tongue as well. Make people think about you or your brand in their environment.

3)  Emotion – Think of it as “sharing is caring.” This helps keeps our efforts viral in a socially active world because people care to pass them along.

4)  Public – More often than not, people look to others to see what to do. Make yourself visual.

5)  Practical Value – This is the usefulness value that people assign to your product or service.

6)  Stories –Traditional selling is not effective with today’s consumer. Make it memorable by creating a narrative or story around your product or service.

Yes, this is simple, accessible knowledge. But in this hectic and ever-changing world of advertising, we all too often lose sight of the simple things. In his book, Berger excels at bringing these core principles to life with case studies and his own sense of storytelling. Most notably, he references an exclusive NYC bar named Please Don’t Tell that’s hidden inside of a fully functioning hot dog restaurant–of all things. (Their secret? They made themselves a secret.)

Simple or not, it’s worth asking yourself every now and again if your brand or your product are telling a story worth sharing.

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