- The journal is a $75 value
- Weekly newsletter is a $100 value
- Online networking is a $50 value
- 20% off research reports, a $75 value
- 20% off the conference, a $200 value
- Membership is a $500 value for only $350!
Associations and organizations of all kinds use this argument frequently. Buy our product because it’s really worth $25 but you only have to pay $12.50; how can you refuse? We try to logic our members and customers into doing what we want them to do.
The logic appeal
This kind of promotion has a few unintended outcomes. We force our members to do some mental math. “I’m not going to the conference,” members ask themselves, “so is membership still worth it?” Promotions like these also force us to focus on the cost rather than the benefit. Is $350 really worth it? Could that $350 be better spent? Am I making a mistake? And finally we question the messages believability. I can get Wired magazine for $10 a year and that is 12 issues. Why are 4 issues of the journal worth $75?
Largely this kind of messaging forces members to focus on the negative, “am I spending too much?”, verses looking forward to the benefits they could be getting. It is counter-intuitive, I know, but price/value-based marketing messaging actually works against you.
A story to tell
There’s another kind of marketing messaging that helps you break through the doubt, it quiets the disbelief and our incessant need to weigh tons of options and their cost. This kind of messaging is storytelling.
A story is a much different kind of narrative. A story takes the listener, reader, watcher on a journey (even if it is in their own head). A story triggers more than just the logic side of the brain, but the emotional side as well. A story can be long like some Ted Talks. But they don’t have to be long, some stories are short but pack a punch. Great stories can even be a couple of words:
- TOMS Shoes – One for One.
- Nike – Just do it!
- Harley Davidson – Live to Ride, Ride to Live
A persuasive story can be long, or medium or short. A great story can be told in video, in words, in images or in typeface. And while many great business or organizational storytelling examples are from high budget ad campaigns, they don’t have to be.
So what makes for the best marketing stories? Better to flip that question on it’s head. What is it we like about the stories we love?
They are about us
Think about the brand you love the most. Perhaps you wear them like (Life is Good, Patagonia, and even your iPhone). These stories touch us because they answer a problem we have in the way we need the problem answered. They help us be more the way we want to be. These stories say something about who we are, think we are, and aspire to be. We feel we are heard.
They connect us
The stories we love connect us to each other. They connect us to people like us. They can connect us to a bigger mission than ourselves.
They are simply told
A great story is artfully told. Any extraneous complexity has been worked through until the story is simple but impactful. There is a storyline, characters and a bad guy.
What story does your association have to tell?
Almost all associations rely on fact-based marketing. Fact-based marketing produces messaging that does not connect with members. To connect with members you need storytelling and to tell great stories you need more information about your members. Amanda Kaiser conducts remarkable member research designed to get you the insights you need to tell your association’s story. Find more articles like this on her blog.