We gulp gallons of Coca-Cola, wear Nikes and Adidas, and use Microsoft and Apple products every day, but unless we watch a biographical film about a company’s innovative founder, we rarely know the marketing story or narrative arc of a business or brand.
Modern incarnations of companies like Nintendo, Nokia, and Abercrombie & Fitch are nothing like their beginnings, and unless you’re a regular at a sports bar’s Wednesday Trivia Night, you may not know:
a) Super Mario hasn’t always been smashing bricks, collecting coins, and fighting Koopa Troopas on a quest to save Princess Toadstool. Nintendo was founded in 1889, not 1985, which is when the first game console was released in America. Known in its initial stages as Nintendo Koppai, the company originally produced decks of cards made from mulberry bark.
b) Instead of courting controversy by targeting youth culture with porno-chic models, Abercrombie & Fitch once catered to fishermen, big game hunters and outdoorsman. It not only sold clothing, but also tents and fishing gear. Can you imagine if the Hemingway set walked into an A&F store today?
While these surprise beginnings make for good stories, all businesses have a killer marketing story to tell. In order to tell a good story, however, you need to capture the attention of the audience, entertain, enlighten, and persuade. Whether you pen the marketing story yourself, or hire a freelance writer to do the job, it needs to have all the fundamentals of good literature.
1. Who gets to play the hero? This is a question content marketing strategists argue over. The traditional definition of a hero suggests the character in question must go through some sort of transformation.
On the one hand, you (the small business) are the hero. You built the company from the ground up, so chances are you’ve gone through many changes along the way. On the other hand, the customer is the also hero. Why? After a customer uses or buys a product or service, some aspect of his life is supposed to be transformed. For example, a higher-definition TV creates a better viewing experience. A professional lawn care service saves a customer valuable time; instead of spending hours trimming the hedges, he’s playing 18-holes on the golf course.
2. Goal(s). Being that all businesses are different, this is a fill in the _________ category.
3. Obstacle(s). Is there little or no demand for your product? Have you not found your niche market? Do you not understand SEO, content marketing, and the importance of social media as an adverting tool?
4. Antagonist(s). What’s a good story without a villain, a nemesis, some shadowy force or figure trying to thwart your every move? The antagonist is the competition.
For all those keeping score at Trivia Night? Who was Super Mario’s nemesis? If you guessed Bowser, you just won a free appetizer.
5. Resolution. As a business, you don’t want resolution. Resolution suggests the marketing story has ended. Game over.
Damon H is a freelance writer available on WriterAccess, a marketplace where clients and expert writers connect for assignments.