Do you know of any smoker who has quit smoking or refrained from smoking because of those God awful ads they show on TV?
And do you know of any person who has tried out a new milkshake or a new work out routine because of the Ads they watched on TV?
If you are like me, you probably will answer no to the former and yes to the latter. I was just wondering why.
All those “tobacco is harmful for your health” spiels with those alarming pictures of protruding mouth cancers and orphaned children never really touch you emotionally, do they? Those pics are printed on cigarette packs too and yet people continue to buy and stock and use them unashamedly. The messaging around tobacco hasn’t evolved in a 100 years. Well of course now there are advertisements that tell you that it’s bad for health. But so is over eating and rash driving.
The reason why some marketing gimmicks work and some don’t is story telling.
Also given how the industry works, this is probably intentional. Tobacco companies and Governments benefit from the tobacco trade. So when they publish disgusting pics or hastily put together videos by collating scenes from Government hospitals, they are ticking off a responsibility. They are telling you that because you smoke, one day you could die a painful death. That’s all. No story.
No story of how to overcome the addiction, how painful quitting really is- they treat it rather casually. If they really did tell stories, and people stopped buying tobacco and cigarettes, it would be bad for the economy as a whole.
Moving on- how has storytelling evolved over the last few generations?
Earlier there was scarce content- very few publications or magazines, the select advertisements on TV, just a couple of newspapers and a few channels on the Radio. That’s all. So content makers and content marketers didn’t have to fight a lot to get attention. Any and all content was consumed.
Today there’s no dearth of content. Right from the food labels on perishable items to magazines to social media to publications to newspapers and Google pages- if you want to read something, you find it yourself. There’s no more of the “if you thrust it in my face enough times I will consume it” logic.
Storytelling was barely a necessity of the past decades and now to even get a customer to “add to cart”, you need a story.
The proceed to payment piece is a battle for another day.
How do you write stories that get you conversions?
Try the off beat track. The reason why you have probably read so far is because this blog post started with the tobacco story. It presented a different perspective to what was always painted. When content starts pushing products in your face, you get turned off pretty quickly. When it is subtle, you give the prospect a chance of understanding the real message in the story. Don’t get into selling, start cajoling.
Make it relatable and keep it real. For your content to be easily consumed, keep it in a chewable form. Don’t lose out on topical narratives. For instance all of last week was Men’s health week. It was a great time to put out content regarding that and draw engagement to your profiles. Engagement doesn’t mean conversion- it means likes, comments and shares. We have all had a friend who smokes, or smoked ourselves- we can relate to the high and we know it’s real.
Set up camp where your audience is. If a majority of your target audience is on Pinterest and you insist on using LinkedIn, guess who’s going to miss out? If it’s about familiarity with a tool, learn it. Almost all social media apps and content creation tools are intuitive and user friendly. Use the language that’s prevalent on the tool. We all speak the language of hashtags and SEO keywords today, no reason to not try your smarts with it too.
Oh! And storytelling can also happen through video games, script writing, TV shows, books and such. Don’t limit yourself to what you can do on and through social media. It gives you a huge chance to make a lasting connection with your prospects and to generate actual brand recall.
Just put yourself out there enough, so that should they happen to search for you, they find you.