Not long ago, my family and I watched a version of ‘1001 Nights’, centered around the escapades and adventures of Aladdin. It was a fun mashup of a bunch of different stories, rewritten to make him and Scheherazade the heroes.
But there were a couple of moments that jumped out to me, moments that illustrated 3 distinct ways that marketing can be done.
Let me show you.
Early on, he stops repairing shoes, grabs a pair of boots and rushes to a main thoroughfare for a quick sale.
His approach is to flatter bypassers, telling them how amazing they look, and how much better life will be if they can see themselves in these shoes. He draws attention to the fine stitching, the quality of the leather, and how it pairs with the line and cut of a man’s robe. He’s all smooth and sales-y. But as soon as people realize that the product doesn’t match the hype, or he overdoes the flattery, they move on.
Not too long after, a carriage rushes through the market, and almost kills a slow, old beggar.
With a heroic sprint, Aladdin drops everything to throw himself at the man, grab him and roll safely out of the path of the horses. When they dust themselves off, he sees why the man couldn’t move quickly. His feet were cracked and blistered, a constant pain to walk on.
Aladdin sweeps up his boots without a second thought, and gives the man a pair of new boots. Of course, the man is delighted to be given something he needed, in a way he never expected.
Later in the story, Aladdin joins a travelling salesman, and is tasked to sell a carpet.
It’s stretched out behind him on a rack, so that everyone in a bazaar can admire it’s colors and detail. He hops up on a rock, and launches into a completely imaginative tale. The audience grows, spellbound at the story of a beautiful weaver who failed in a task, overcame odds, became a goddess, and wove this tapestry as a cryptic memory.
A rich lady cut through the audience and promptly bought it, and the story moved on.
I thought these three modes were fascinating to pick apart.
1: The cold call, sales pitch, or advertisement. You have no idea who’s listening to you. Usually, you’ll rely on the strength of the product, and hope that your audience will make the connection for you.
A lot of marketing is done this way. It’s a fast way to get attention, but it has the least holding power – especially if there’s a hype. The downside to this is that there’s no trust established with new audiences, so you have to work twice as hard to close deals. Often, it becomes a numbers game, unless you’re conscious about the unique human component you bring to your sales connections.
2. Riches in the niches: In the second case, he identified a concrete example of an audience in immediate need of help, and his product was a direct fit. Conversion rates are usually extremely high, because you’re not spending a lot of time convincing. The audience is already convinced they need help, and it’s just a matter of deciding who they will pay.
Demonstrating that you’re the ideal fit for them is where you focus. Running ads to niches like that have a much greater chance of success than blasting confetti over fairground.
3. Captivate with storytelling: This kind of marketing doesn’t start with the product. It doesn’t even start with a pitch. It starts with an experience. And by its nature, it invites people in to listen and enjoy something.
Aladdin created an audience beyond the scope of his buyers. If he had shared it on social media, that audience would have probably retweeted it, and selfied themselves. Because when we love a story, we love what it says about us. Or we’re connecting with a message in it, and want to be know that we do.
That’s how you tap into ‘free marketing’, or where your fans become your ambassadors. That’s the power of referrals. Like Elon Musk, he doesn’t just give you something to buy. He gives you something to believe in, and your purchase is a joyful commitment to that belief. Your sleek, red roadster, or your Harley Davidson, or your Apple laptop isn’t a product, but a symbol.
Stories connect people, give them a voice.
And have the potential to reach so many more than you expect. Superbowl Ads, anyone?
So when it comes to your marketing, is there one particular format you should follow?
Totally depends on you. Not everyone can start out telling stories.
But if you choose to create the kind of of brand that does, you and your fans will likely have a more exciting time of it.
And if you can’t create content like Hubspot, then at least you can be like Netflix. (Hubspot doesn’t account for 15% of internet traffic. hint, hint…)
What do you think? Is there another marketing path that comes to mind for you? Comment below 🙂
Header image Copyright Disney.