All Marketers Tell Stories
Stories are as old as humanity. Human culture grew and developed by storytelling. Long before books, magazines and social media, stories were used to better understand the world and share ideas. With the advent of the information age, stories continue to be pivotal to our humanity and are shared freely and much more easily than ever before. Story telling is the simplest way to connect to consumers.
As orthodontists, we work hard to develop a story of who we are and what our practice represents. “Your story” is at the core of any marketing efforts and the perception of your practice. Whether you believe in marketing a practice or not, the fact is that each of us tells a story. Whether you are active or passive in your methods, our practices leave bread crumbs for others to follow what you are about. A story has already been written about you and your practice whether or not you have actively promoted it.
The problem is that we believe that consumers are attracted to orthodontics because of what our service does for people. Instead of focusing on utility, we should be looking at marketing the story that our services tell and why our services add connection to our patients in the belief we share. It is believing that story that creates value for consumers to look beyond straight teeth and smile enhancement. A commodity comes from a story of what people NEED. A true value proposition comes from a story of what people WANT.
Stories only work because consumers buy what they don’t need… If consumers have everything they need, there’s nothing left to buy except stuff that they want. And the reason they buy stuff they want is because of the way if makes them feel.” – Seth Godin
Do you tell a story that orthodontics is needs based dentistry, or wants based dentistry? The consumer decisions on needs vs. wants generally defy logic. This concept is shown time and time again when you try to explain why people buy an overpriced, designer t-shirt, eat at a trendy restaurant, or buy organic fruit, when clearly there are cheaper alternatives. Where is the logic in these decisions? The answer comes from the story these businesses are telling to their consumers, and how it makes those consumers feel good to believe and connect to that story.
Marketing is an art. In that art, come non-verbal cues that create trust and underline a series of promises. That trust is reinforced by our commitment to keep those promises and accurately fulfill that story that we have created. For a fortunate few, the stories created are effortless and they generate these non-verbal cues without even realizing it.
The good news is clear: authentic marketing, from one human to another, is extremely powerful. Telling a story authentically, creating a product or service that actually does what you say it will leads to a different sort of endgame. The marketer wins and so do her customers. A story that works combined with authenticity and minimized side effects builds a brand (and a business) for the ages.” – Seth Godin, All Marketers Tell Stories
If you say and do what you believe, you will attract people that believe what you believe. Your story will not attract everyone. It is important to develop your true story and be authentic about your story. When this is achieved, your story will attract those who fit in and get the sense of belonging to your practice.
Everything that we say and do is a symbol of who we are… It is only when we communicate our beliefs authentically that we can attract others to our cause, and form the bonds that will empower us to achieve truly great things” – Simon Sinek, If You Don’t Understand People, You Don’t Understand Business
Let’s take a pause, and honestly look at what story we are telling. If you ran into a stranger in an elevator and she asked you what you do, what would you say? What is your story?