Seth Godin on Story Marketing

Marketing renaissance man Seth Godin was the guest on one of our favourite podcasts – Building a Story Brand – recently. The entire interview is excellent, but Godin’s view on the role of story in marketing made us want to raise our hands and exclaim “PREACH”!

It gels perfectly with the sense of mission we feel in the content branding we do for clients on social media. Our goal is to interpret brands for their target audience. We create a mosaic of messages that make it clear to the target market how the brand can fit into their lives. Success is when the audience knows, likes and trusts the brand content enough to invite it into their news feeds and the brand into their lives.

Miller and StoryBrand uses the basics of story-telling to encourage marketers to not so much tell a story as invite customers into the brand narrative. “For 2000 years story has helped us understand how the human mind works, what people are attracted to, what they’re willing to pay attention to,” he says on the podcast.

At 8:55 into the podcast, Donald Miller of StoryBrand asks Godin: “How do you perceive story and how does it fit into today’s marketing culture?”

Here’s Godin’s answer in full:

“My take is this: when people are buying things, they’re looking for 1000 cues and clues. They’re looking for anything from facial expressions to how it reminds them of their grandparents.

But when people are selling things, all of a sudden, they become RFP-obsessed, checklist-making feature people. And that’s not how we buy things. So why are you selling things that way?

We don’t actually buy the cheapest of anything, or buy by most measures the best of anything. When we choose something, when we recommend it, when we miss it when it’s not there, we’re buying it as a human, not a computer. And what we want more than anything is to buy it from someone we trust, who wants what we want, who is going to make the change happen in the world that we seek.

And it’s too challenging for most marketers to get their arms around that because they lack empathy. They lack the humility to realize that they have to do more than just show up with pretty good stuff at a pretty good price. They have to make magic, they have to be a ring leader, a host. Not just a talk-show host but an impresario, a maker of magic.

And it turns out once you’ve figured that out its one of the great jobs, one of the great opportunities. But you can’t blink. You have to lean into it and do it on purpose.”