Once upon a time, there was a company called The Footwear Fairies. All they wanted was to sell their shoes to people online. Every day they’d stand at the top of Internet Mountain and yell to the townsfolk below saying “WE HAVE SHOES, THEY’RE COMFORTABLE LIKE CLOUDS AND BEAUTIFUL LIKE UNICORNS AND YOU MUST BUY THEM!”
However, the townsfolk, busy with their busy Social Media lives would hear the Fairies and not look up. They were far too concerned with their own lives, listening to others lives and happy milling about to worry about shoes at the moment. Besides, people were screaming from the mountain tops all the time about all kinds of things that didn’t seem to connect with the townspeople.
The Footwear Fairies were dismayed. They knew people would love their shoes, heck, half the townsfolk had bruised bare feet and were in dire NEED of shoes. Why then, was the message not connecting?
The Footwear Fairies decided to visit the wise old Internet Marketing Wizard, who lived deep within the Content Forest, who has been providing powerful online marketing advice since the dawn of the internet (about three decades by our count). The Footwear Fairies, slightly afraid, asked their question, “Marketing Wizard, we’ve been yelling for days from the top of Internet Mountain asking people to buy our shoes, we know we have an amazing product, why do the townsfolk not seem interested?”
“Well are you just talking about your shoes?” asked the wise Wizard.
“Yes! They have amazing fairy insoles that are cushioned like a cloud, and they sparkle beautifully thanks to our patented Unicorn glitter design.” replied the Fairies.
“Hmm…” pondered the Wizard, “I’ve heard of shoes like this before, don’t the Boot Goblins do something similar? And what of the Flip-flop Elves, do their shoes not offer similar perks?”
“Well that’s true, but they produce shoes on mass and don’t provide the same level of detail we do.” retorted the Fairies. “We used to wear their shoes and found it didn’t have the personal touch we wanted.”
“Oh that’s interesting,” said the Wizard. “Please tell me more!”
“Well our founder Jebidiah, trekked across Internet mountain to find the highest peak wherein he found the most beautiful Unicorns in all the land. Upon explaining his passion for high quality shoe ingredients, he formed an alliance with the unicorns who allowed only him to use their dust for shoes. He now works with them to design Unicorn-approved designs that are one-of-a-kind for each new line of shoes.”
“Hmm…” pondered the Wizard again, “That’s a fascinating story. Have you ever told it to someone who was looking to buy shoes? It really seems to set you apart.”
“Well… no,” said the Fairies. “We didn’t know if people would care about Jebediah's story.”
“People care about stories a lot more than they care about shoes,” said the Wizard looking down at his bare feet. “I saw a lot of passion, emotion, and love in your story. When I heard what Jebidiah had gone through, I was much more attached to you shoes then when you just told me about the features.”
The Fairies now knew what they needed to do and thanked the Wizard for his help. Of course! There were plenty of people yelling about shoes, and tunics and pantaloons from the top of Internet mountain. The Fairies finally realized: they would never get attention by just adding to the noise!
After returning to their peak, the Footwear Fairies began a new strategy. This time they yelled “After years of foot pain and toe sadness, our founder Jebidiah has traversed mountains to find a perfect shoe, the quest led to a beautiful new line of shoes to help everyone struggling with sore feet.”
All of a sudden, townsfolk started to listen. Those who were sad from sore feet identified with the tale of Jebidiah and were intrigued. Some shouted their praises from down below, others shared the news with their friends who they knew were also struggling, some even walked up the mountain and talked to The Footwear Fairies asking how they too could get a pair of these shoes that now seemed like a perfect fit.
The Footwear Fairies were filled with joy! They found connection to people and were able to meet the Townspeople’s needs. They quickly became the most popular shoe-makers in the land, not because they had the best shoes (there could always be better ones) but because they told the best stories.
Every small business and content marketer should take a page out of the old Wizard’s playbook. When advertising your business online, people are far more likely to identify with a story than an advertisement. This was a pretty simple story, but you’ve read this far… would this have been an interesting read if you didn’t connect with the Footwear Fairies’ plight, or we simply explained the benefits of stories?
The golden rule of story-telling is to SHOW rather than TELL. Show people why your product will connect with them through blogs, videos and other content, don’t just tell them. People get told thing all the time, the last thing they need is a brand telling them what they need on the internet. People are much more likely to connect with your brand if they see creativity, passion, and emotion behind your content. The days of blasting out stale one-sided copy is done. From now on, it’s story time!