Okay, it’s late, so please excuse the headline. My point will become clearer when you understand I just saw a good post by Rick Liebling entitled “It’s Time for the Advertising Industry to Rediscover Storytelling“.
Rick reflects on the power of a good story to connect and engage potential customers. In short, “People like, want and need stories”. He illustrates his points with a few nice examples from the past, but laments that stories haven’t really caught on as a means for advertising today ironically in spite of the abundance of new ways we have to tell the stories (for example, online via Twitter, Facebook, Flickr, text messages, etc.). Yes, there have been ads that have created vivid characters, but in two prominent examples:
While rich, vivid characters have been created in [the Geico Caveman and Dos Equis’ Most Interesting Man in the World], it lacks the deeper emotional punch of the great narrative archetypes. You could watch just one ad from either of these two campaigns and enjoy it on its own. Equally, you could watch all the ads from either campaign in random order and they would be just as enjoyable. No, a truly powerful story has a beginning, a middle and an end.
Regarding the relation to simulations, great storytelling is a theme I’ve discussed a couple of times before, for example:
- Making a Compelling Story
- Successful selling by using simulations o put your prospects in their own (future) success story
When we talk about products and stories, especially in the B2B world, nothing sells better than a good case study (really a true-life story) about how the product solved a customer’s problem. Customers can point to that success as a justification to purchase the product. I think a well-designed advertisement (or even campaign) could involve one or more scenarios that either show someone doing, or let the prospect himself (or herself) use the product to achieve goals related to the uniqueness or advantages of the product. The real-world context in which the problem is set and the solution pursued can give the time/progress structure that Rick describes — a beginning, middle, and end. If it were done as an interactive presentation (one in which the prospect could interact and direct the storyline/problem-solving), I feel it would make the conclusion and impact even more compelling — the advertisement has woven the prospect into the ad itself.