All great marketing begins with a great story

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At Magneti Marketing, we constantly get asked what clients can do to increase leads and exposure for their business or organization.

A lot of folks think that marketing is some magic faucet where we can just turn on the sales. While it is true that as savvy marketers we have a few tricks up our sleeve, a great marketing effort begins with a great foundation.

That foundation rests on a strong narrative. All great brands are exceptional storytellers. The development of a great story is what all good marketing rests on. It inspires. It engages. Most importantly, it keeps the user coming back for more. If you look closely at successful brands over the past century, you will see a great story wrapped into the core marketing message. Brands like Volkswagen and Lego stand out as brands that have used great stories to build marketing foundations.

Great brands are great storytellers. Look no further than one of the most iconic brands in history — Nike. If you think Nike sells shoes, think again. Nike doesn’t sell shoes, they sell inspiration, an identity, a part to play in a greater story. The company’s original, longstanding mission statement is “to bring inspiration and innovation to every athlete in the world.” Shoes are just a tool to help athletes live out this narrative.

You can see a greater story in everything the brand does. In the 1990s Nike transcended the athletic apparel industry by using a great hero to play the leading role.

Michael Jordan was a rising star, far from what he became as a cultural icon in American sports. In Jordan, Nike saw an inspiring personality with an uncanny ability to play the leading role in the great story of inspiration and innovation. The marketing and advertising campaign goal was simple, to inspire you to want to “be like Mike.” Just as a child is inspired to be the prince or princess in a great fairytale, Nike created a persona that everyone could identify with. You could see yourself flying through the air like Mike, and you needed his shoes to do it.

What does this all mean for the average local business? All organizations have a story to tell, whether you are a multi-million-dollar brand, a local plumber or a bakery. Finding and developing that storyline is key to the foundation of your marketing.

Our own community is full of fantastic local brands and organizations that have harnessed the power of story to create a greater foundation for good marketing. Venetucci Farms developed a strong narrative to support its mission.

While telling a good story is not simple, the good news for all of us trying to build a compelling story for our brand is that all stories are built with repeatable ingredients.

You need a theme. In marketing we call this “the why.” The overarching theme answers the why of your story. Why do you do what you do? Why does your business exist? What problem are you trying to solve? This “why” answers the core belief of your story. In marketing, we tell clients to always “start with the why.” If you know why you are doing something, all other things will fall into place.

Once you know “the why,” develop a hero whom folks can identify with, or be inspired by. Nike had Michael Jordan. For a local brand, that hero might be the owner or patriarch. Venetucci Farms had that hero in Nick Venetucci, who gave up his lifelong dream of playing baseball for the New York Yankees to help his family run the farm. Over the years he became a hero to countless local children by growing and giving away pumpkins to children who otherwise may not have had this opportunity.

To find your hero, start at the beginning. Who started your organization, or made it what it is? Somewhere in your company’s unique story, you will find the hero.

As you and your business look toward 2014, I encourage you to start with the why and build a great story around it. This foundation will provide the necessary platform to begin building a truly exceptional marketing campaign.

Adam Williams is the CEO of Magneti Marketing, a full service marketing agency. He’s a board member for SafePassage, which provides a safe haven for physically and sexually abused children.