‘Marketing’ is just another word for “Storytelling’

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After seeing the new Wal-Mart ad campaign, created by The Martin Agency based in Richmond, Va., I’m impressed.

Turning around the image of a corporation that everyone loves to hate (even if they simultaneously patronize it) was an unenviable task. How do you go about replacing the public image that your business is a behemoth with bad employee and community relations?

The Martin Agency – which is also responsible for the Geico “Caveman” ads – struck at the heart of what all good marketing should be: They told a story.

One ad features a family on a typical vacation. Clearly meant to tug at the fond childhood memories of parents (or childhood fantasies of what life should be like), the commercial follows a family of six as they load into the minivan for a road trip to Florida. But not without a quick stop at Wal-Mart. We see them stop at tourist traps. We see the kids getting on each other’s nerves. We see them making memories to last a lifetime.

Then we see these words:

“Wal-Mart saves the average family $2,500 a year. What will you do with your savings?”

The tag line is “Save Money. Live Better.”

Wow. That’s a story. It’s a story I want to be my story, even if I don’t particularly want to shop at Wal-Mart.
When it comes right down to it, all marketing is storytelling. Your business story may be that you came from humble beginnings and grew a fast-food empire to compete with McDonald’s. Your story may be that you love ice cream almost as much as you love peace, the environment and your employees.

Your story may be that little savings add up to once-in-a-lifetime experiences.

Everything your business or organization puts into the world adds a line to the story – from something as simple as your business cards to something as complex as your employees’ satisfaction.

Good marketing helps you take charge and craft the story you want to tell.

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