You’ve labored long and hard over your product or service. You’ve created a website to support your efforts. And you’ve got the right team in place to make it all happen. So you put out the press release announcing the new thing that you are so very proud of… and… crickets.
Why won’t the media pay attention to you? Why aren’t people flocking to purchase what you are certain is the best thing since sliced bread? And why isn’t Google showing you any love?
The problem could be with your storytelling.
One of the biggest mistakes I see marketers make is that they try to create something that will go viral. But viral marketing isn’t something you create. It’s something that happens when you tell a story so compelling that others can’t help but retell it. That is the essence of viral marketing.
Unless you are Apple Computer, there’s no point in putting out press releases announcing your new CEO. No one really cares about that. What they care about is how your product or service will make their lives better. Will it help them save time or money? Will it entertain or inspire them? The bottom line is always WIIFM (What’s in it for me?)
That’s why your storytelling must be spot on and targeted at an audience that is most likely to enjoy, and then willingly share, your story.
When I released my book, KaChing: How to Run an Online Business that Pays and Pays, in 2010, I opted to create a device that I was certain would not only bring attention to my book, but also help people to remember me.
Inspired by Staples’ “Easy Button” (That was easy!), I designed and manufactured the world’s only KaChing Button. A green button with a dollar sign on top, when pressed the novelty device would play a cash register sound. It was the perfect tie-in with my book and we included the button in the cover design.
Editors and book reviewers receive way more books than they are able to read. By including a unique gadget (which cost me very little to manufacture) with a review copy of the book, I was able to tell a story that went beyond the book. Now, each KaChing Button owner became part of the story by having their own button. I guarantee you that the majority of the buttons I have sent out are sitting on people’s desks and not in the junk drawer or trash bin.
The KaChing story got even more interesting as my team and I released an iPhone app based on the KaChing Button in 2011. Rejected by the Appstore reviewers for having minimal user functionality, I seized the opportunity to create a humorous short video addressed directly to Steve Jobs when he was once again acting CEO of Apple.
The story I told made the point that there were numerous apps available that had similar functionality. I knew this story would be of great interest to the app development community as many others were experiencing this same frustration with Apple’s app approval process.
The result was a story which was picked up by major tech pubs and a video that was viewed tens of thousands of times the first week. Where others might have experienced rejection, I saw it as opportunity to tell a new story. As it turned out, it resonated and others were eager to retell the story. Oh, and the app was approved by Apple shortly thereafter.
You may have a great story to tell. But it may not be the right story. Or it may not be told to the right segment of your market. So step outside of the “features” box of your product or service. Instead, step into the “benefits” lane and try to look at what you are offering from the perspective of others. Ask yourself who the people are that might find a unique angle to your story.
In all likelihood, the greatest story you can tell isn’t the obvious one. Search for THAT story because it’s the one most likely to go viral.
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