By Dave Sutton, a member of YPO since 2003
Remember the good old days when cultural relevancy could be purchased through TV commercials and catchy taglines? Well, as our digital lives have become massively cluttered through the explosion of always-on mobile devices and social media, the time for telling our brand story has shrunk — dramatically.
Welcome to the world of the six-second brand story.
Yes, six seconds.
We have about a six-second window for making a connection and giving our customers and audience a reason to care, a reason to want to learn more, and a reason to engage further with your brand. If that connection is lost in those first few seconds, then it is really lost, and they are most likely not coming back.
During those six seconds, your story will be judged from the perspective of your customer through the lens of simplicity, clarity and alignment. Is your storytelling simple, clear and aligned with the audience’s needs and wants?
Good marketers tell product stories; great marketers tell why the story matters
Most marketers focus on the “What” — the product and its functionalities. Ironically, most customers don’t want to know all the “whats” about a product. In fact, the conversation that focuses on better features and more options often leads to more confusion.
What customers really want to know is “Why” — why does this matter to them?
Why should a customer care? Why should they listen to your story?
Wrestling this question to the ground from the customer point of view requires you to go to a deeper and more emotive level of engagement with your customers by distilling down the “why you do what you do” as a company into a “why” that captures the customer’s imagination.
How does their life change because of what you are offering them? That change — the outcome and true impact you are making in their lives — is not about you having better product features. It is about the difference you make when they engage with your brand that gives them a reason to want to be a part of your brand story.
Answering “why” is the foundation of your six-second brand story.
These five tips will help you create a compelling six-second brand story:
- Start with the customer’s perspective: Your brand story must speak directly to your customer’s perspective, because their perspective defines their needs and wants. Your story must speak to how your customer’s life could look if they engage with you. Giving them a new perspective on what could be possible is key to helping them connect your brand story to theirs.
- Simplify your story into specific outcomes: Clearly state the outcomes and impact that your brand brings to your customer. Most customers have neither the time nor the inclination to try to figure this out on their own. And if they are forced to figure this out for themselves, you have likely already lost them.
- Stir emotion: Most people don’t actually make purely analytical buying decisions. They make emotional decisions based on wanting a particular brand or product in their life because they believe it can make a difference for them. They buy because they want your brand story to be part of their personal brand story. Then they justify those decisions by rationalizing them with facts.
- Create a question: What if your customers’ lives could change because of the story you are offering? What if by engaging with you, they could have a story with different outcomes? We want to seed a question your customers must answer to themselves: What if things really could be different because of what this brand offers me?
- Make your customer the hero: Compelling stories resonate when the audience can put themselves at the center. Always remember that your customer is the hero. You are the guide on their journey. Your brand story isn’t really about you. It is about the difference you make to your customer as you guide them to a destination they could not otherwise reach.
Marketing does not close the sale; it opens the conversation
Your six-second brand story is not going to address each of these five elements completely. But it must capture one or more in a simple phrase or sentence that gives your customer a doorway to walk through and engage with your brand. It should make them pause and consider what they have just seen or heard. In just six seconds they will not fully grasp the depth of your story. But if you have given them a reason to care, to listen, to engage, to buy and to stay, they will consider making your brand a part of their life and story.
YPO member Dave Sutton is a leading authority on how to plug 21st-century strategic marketing techniques and enabling technology into the modern business to drive organic growth. He is the founder of TopRight, LLC — a strategic marketing consultancy that helps companies corner the markets where they choose to compete and the co-author of “Enterprise Marketing Management: The New Science of Marketing.” An expert and pioneer in enterprise marketing management, Sutton successfully combines the science of an engineer with the art of a marketer. He has led numerous business strategy, marketing strategy and transformation engagements for Global 2000 companies and government agencies around the world and has worked with leading brands across many industries and categories.
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