Storytelling Only Trumps Attributes In Two Strategic Situations

An agency employee recently posted the following provocation on LinkedIn.

“Storytelling > product features”

My wild guess is that she is tired of tech company creative briefs that lock her into narrow feature plugs vs. unleashing the power of emotionally intense stories (e.g., Dr. Squatch, Liquid Death) about the user experience, about the key outcomes.

And I think she’s right about the last bit. Prioritizing communications about the experience of using a product has been proven, overall, to drive far more explosive growth from creative work.

And, in CPG, too many marketers are risk-averse administrators who are unable to sign off on the kind of emotionally intense creative that creates real memorability, strong enough to generate offline trial in the grocery store days later.

However, in the early stages of growth, it is the key attributes that early fans tend to glom onto and use to infer key outcomes without any storytelling at all. Early word-of-mouth tends to use attribute-outcome logic, not stories. And, of course, the front panel of a product or a display ad doesn’t permit storytelling. 

That is why I wrote about symbolic logic so much in my book. Product-driven growth is different from growth driven by advertising/storytelling. 

Generally, the latter is what you need to start investing in after you hit $100-200M in sales or a bit earlier IF you have a giant Elephant market leader in your category.

My revision to the above statement? 

Storytelling > outcomes > attributes/features once you’ve reached the midmarket.

Dr. James Richardson

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