Connecting Through Stories and Archetypes: How to Think, Talk and Act Like Your Customers
According to a recent study by Media Dynamics, the average person sees more than 5,000 ads per day. At the same time, it's been statistically proven that you have a better likelihood of surviving an airplane crash than clicking on a banner ad.
It's no surprise, then, that many people claim advertising is dead.
But is it?
Advertising is not dead - in fact, I would argue that there's never been a better time to be in advertising (or, more appropriately, the business of communication).
But how do we, as marketers, tell the right stories when according to a recent study by Microsoft, the average attention span of a human is 8 seconds?
How is an advertiser supposed to connect in such a short period of time?
By not rewriting history. In other words, tap into the stories your customers already know. Get them to remember, rather than expecting them to connect with new things.
We all have certain stories that we've heard over and over and still love because they're wired into our DNA. Brands can tap into these stories and customize with their own unique characters and mini plot lines. It's a proven method that works again and again to drive brand equity, connection and, yes, even sales.
When the Think Different campaign launched in '97, Apple aligned itself with 17 20th Century iconic personalities including Albert Einstein, John Lennon, Amelia Earhart and others. Each of these people represents specific archetypes that trigger a connection with our unconscious. Apple brought its tagline to life with these heroes, inspiring us all to change the world for the better (by using Apple products, of course).
To connect with customers, brands need to see the world through their eyes. They need to think, act and talk like their customers - and most importantly, they need to do so authentically and transparently.
Brands can most easily do this in social by tapping into the archetypes of their customers. Archetypes represent a pattern of ideas and thinking that transcend time and cultures. According to Carl Jung there are 12 core archetypes, each one representing its own basic human motivations, values and traits. Jung said that archetypes tap into our collective unconscious and control most of our decision-making. They set the foundation for how we see our place in the world and how we connect with other people and with brands.
How are smart brands using Archetypes in Social Media?
When Jack Daniel's began speaking to its multiple customer archetypes on social, its engagement levels skyrocketed almost overnight. The image of a Jack Daniel's drinker is one of defiance and independence, making the core Jack Daniel's archetype 'The Maverick'. With its own rich, barrel-aged history, the brand is second to none when it comes to celebrating authentic individuality.
Jack also connects with 'The Everyman' who bonds with others by being humble, hard working and friendly. The persona of Jack Daniel, the man, is very much alive in the way the brand communicates. Jack is the friend who's always there for you, no matter what.
Airbnb is a brand that connects almost exclusively with 'The Explorer' in all of us, from focusing on stories about its hosts around the world, to the exotic or whimsical destinations at your finger tips, to living like a local in every sense of the word.
I dare you to last five minutes on Airbnb's Instagram without feeling inspired to start planning your next adventure.
Dos Equis' sales exploded thanks to 'The Most Interesting Man in the World' campaign because people connected with the series of humorous, micro-stories featuring different archetypes, all tapping our inner drive for creativity, intellect, and heroic feats of all kinds. This campaign helped increase sales for a mature brand by nearly 300% within 9 years.
How can brands find their own archetypes to connect in Social Media?
To begin with, here are some questions brand marketers should ask themselves:
- How does your brand make your customers' lives better?
- Who are your customers and what drives their decision-making? What goals are your customers trying to achieve? What's their Why?
- How can you inspire your customers to be their best selves?
On the surface, the answers to these questions may be very product focused, but believe it or not, there are emotional motivators that make RAM and hard drive space or a bigger engine or fewer calories seem appealing. Speak to the emotion and the WHY.
How can marketers use technology and data analysis to learn how customers perceive their brand?
Once you begin to look at first and third party data with an eye toward archetypes, a lot becomes very clear. Patterns emerge, revealing why people love your brand (or your competitors). Ideas on how you can communicate more effectively, differently and simply begin to emerge.
For example, by looking at the social chatter around Panda Express, it becomes very clear that people turn to Panda when they are having a bad day. There's a significant level of commentary that discusses Panda as comfort food and a perfect solution to a bad day. The Panda customer in this scenario is 'The Everyman', with Panda as 'The Caregiver', and an entire strategy can be built around bringing joy and happiness through food.
Advertising and marketing have never been so alive. The slow death of traditional marketing methods is opening the door for new narratives, often told with a carefully crafted voice and creative strategy within social media. Social media is the most effective, direct, two-way communication you'll ever have with your customers. Best in class brands in social that truly get it are the brands that take the time to truly understand the underlying needs of their customers through studying their archetypes.
Good Advertising is no longer about selling. It's about inspiring. It's no longer about brand stories. It's about people stories.
We all want a best friend that understands, helps and inspires us. Your goal, as a brand, is to be that friend. Your products, services and marketing are simply a means to a much more powerful end goal, which is to make the lives of your customers better.
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