A Fresh Look at Using Story for Branding: A Review of Chase Reeves’ Podcast On Fizzle.co By Harper Roark

The concept of using story for brand building is certainly not a new one, but once in awhile I come across a marketing professional who can really bring the concept to life in a new way.  Enter Chase Reeves, co-founder of Fizzle.co, who has spent considerable time creating what he calls “mash-ups” of his reading about story and his work creating stories for clients and for Fizzle.co.  In a recent Fizzle Show podcast, he describes his strategies for better using story for marketing.  While I will go over a few of his points here, giving his actual podcast a listen would be well worth your time.

When you read an article about how to use story to build your brand, what is almost always the first item on the checklist to be discussed?  Know your audience.  Know their demographical information, their likes and dislikes, their desires and fears, etc. etc. ad infinitum.

Where does Chase begin?  With a simple definition of story from Donald Miller’s book A Million Miles in a Thousand Years: “A character who wants something and overcomes obstacles to get it.”

He then points out a mistake that virtually all of us make when we’re starting out, but hardly anyone discusses: the main character fallacy, or a problem identifying the main character of your story.  Where do most people begin with their stories?  “Me, me, me.”  As Chase points out, while this may be a great equation for creating a compelling novel or other work of creative art, it is a terrible equation for business marketing and brand building.

So who is the main character of your story if not you?  Your business?

No.  The main character of your story is your customer or audience.  But not your customers or audience as a whole—just one particular customer.

The goal is to pick a particular customer and really know him or her.  Know what he or she wants, what the specific goal is, and then—even more important—identify exactly what the obstacle or problem is that is standing between your customer and his or her goal.  Remember the old marketing adage (paraphrased): if you can describe a client’s problem to him better than he can explain it himself, immediate trust will be established and he will assume you also have the solution.

Another important thing to understand about your particular customer is what is at stake for them in their mission or quest to achieve their goal.  What negative thing will happen or what will they lose if they do not succeed?

One interesting tip that one of Chase’s cohosts adds is that you can play the game of infinite whys to understand more about your customer and what is at stake for him or her.  Once you know what the customer wants, ask yourself why he or she wants it.  When you have an answer to that question, ask yourself why again.  And so on until you reach the deepest level of what is at stake for the customer.

As Chase puts it, “The reason why your brand connects or doesn’t is because you either nail this mission, and the main character lands on your site and they realize that you understand their story, and their mission, and their quest, or they don’t.”

He includes a lot of interesting stories from his own experiences coming up with brand stories for clients, as well as a few entertaining analogies (Yoda even makes an appearance), and his enthusiasm for his subject is palpable.

If you’re new to using story for marketing, this podcast will serve as a great introduction to the subject.  But if you think you’ve heard all the same points about using story to build your brand a thousand times, prepare to be pleasantly surprised: Chase’s fresh discussion of the subject is worth hearing for yourself.

A word to the wise (or at least the busy): if you’re not interested in hearing a nearly 40 minute update on the status of Fizzle.co, traveling they have been doing, a new position they are looking to fill, and so on—actual discussion of using story to build your brand begins at mile-marker 36:30 and lasts about 25 minutes.

 

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