Once upon a time…
I shared this post on Linkedin.
I wanted to test using a bit of a personal story on a platform where you don’t normally see much of that.
It’s mostly just professionals writing as professionals to other professionals.
Like at a conference, where you have to break through the “So, what do you do?” wall before getting to the personal stuff.
The post, surprisingly got a good reaction.
But was it really a surprise?
Stories, whether real or made up, influence our perception.
Our perception influences our behavior.
Fiction and myths are a peculiarity of human nature. And they did way more for us over our history than we actually give them credit for.
Like uniting our communities and helping us collaborate more effectively.
You know… peanuts.
In “Sapiens”, Yuval Noah Harari says: “It’s relatively easy to agree that only Homo sapiens can speak about things that don’t really exist, and believe six impossible things before breakfast. You could never convince a monkey to give you a banana by promising him limitless bananas after death in monkey heaven.”
Stories create worlds in our heads, and those worlds make up our own beliefs about what we should do and how we should do it.
True, you might not want to use stories and fiction in your copy 100% of the times.
If you’re in B2B, stories, especially imagined ones, might not be super helpful. Except maybe to inject some humor (which guess what, can increase conversions if it matches your brand’s voice).
But what does using stories really mean?
I think it’s truly about getting to the vivid and sensory details. It’s about constructing a new reality that you can transfer to the reader’s mind.
If it’s believable enough, they will – literally – buy it.
Some ecommerce websites are even able to sell their products at 10/15x the price just by using stories in their product descriptions.
How’s that possible?
I like how David Dylan Thomas explains it in “Design for Cognitive Bias”:
“Meaning can be very difficult to pull off in design, but stories create cognitive fluency around meaning. Our minds love narratives because they love patterns; stories are like really well-packaged patterns. Beginning, middle, and end. ”
This increased cognitive fluency, or the idea that we translate how easy something we think is, into how easy it actually is, helps us give more meaning to products through stories.
I recently stumbled on a few great examples of how to use fiction for this. Specifically in emails.
They’re from the brand Liquid Death, an emo/alternative-themed company selling canned water. Their marketing is genius. As well as their copy.
Just take a look at it!
You can see how they dive head first into the narrative.
It fits their voice, and it transports you into a new reality.
One where those products suddenly acquire more meaning.
Yes, even if that extra meaning is completely made up.
If anything, it’s a powerful attention grabber.
Anyway, I thought I nugged you into brainstorming how you can use stories – even outright made up ones – to make your branding and marketing just a bit bolder. A bid more courageous.
Because I believe it can truly be a differentiator when you do it right.
And at worst, it will force you to stretch your marketing idea muscle.
As you might know, I’m working on our first ebook, a collection of past newsletter issues, + extra actionable stuff that I’ll talk about soon. Tomorrow I’ll share the results of the feedback survey I sent out (haven’t had your say? Do it now!) and my plan for the topics we’ll cover.
Quote and reflection of the day:
“Whether by the strike of the enemy or your own thrust, whether by the man who strikes or the sword that strikes, whether by position or rhythm, if your mind is diverted in any way, your actions will falter, and this can mean that you will be cut down.” – Takuan Soho, The Unfettered Mind
Where mind goes, body follows. Unless we learn to apply some level of control to our own thinking, attitude and state, we will never be able to control our own behavior. Position and rhythm, past and novel experiences, environment and other people influence us, but we can find our own truth and center if we put in the effort.