I’m going to tell a story that’s ripe with ethical questions (small ones you might say) and a bit of humor. There’s humor in it because it’s so very odd that it took me several seconds to even comprehend what was going on.
Now I’ve probably built up all of this suspense. Not my intention but I’ll continue my story because it’s interesting.
Story. Yes, that’s what this is about. You know… the human element to every business. The why’s, the who’s, the what’s. Any marketer would tell you that the story behind a company is what makes it interesting. Why did the founders start this company? Is there an angle to this story?
So that’s exactly what I told the client.
I said “You should write your story… write a short page saying why you started this company. For the web site.”
“Oh (long pause), I think I could do that. Ok”
“Great then! I’ll look forward to it.”
I thought nothing more of it until our next meeting. Flash forward a few weeks to our next meeting, if you will.
The client pulls out a sheet of paper “I wrote something for the story area.”
She shows me the paper and then reads what she wrote. It wasn’t longer than a few paragraphs and started this way:
“I am a mother of three young children with one on the way…”
Keep in mind this is a site geared towards consumers and probably families, so this sounds great and lines up with the business model.
The rest of the paragraph doesn’t matter. What matters is what happened next.
She changed the story.
Crossing off most of that sentence, she said “I think two kids sounds better, that seems to be the typical family.” She even crossed out the part about having a child on the way.
This is where my mind stopped. I’m thinking to myself “did she just take out a kid?? And one on the way? What?”
That’s pretty much when I realized the story wasn’t even real. It’s just marketing. More marketing without an ounce of truth in it.
6 responses to “What’s your story? – This is going to be a weird one”
Wow… that is just cold and calculated.
yeah, i not sure how i feel about that. if you don’t have an interesting story about why you started the business, then just don’t have a story. don’t go making one up.
i am all for marketing and for putting things in a good light and putting a spin, or finding the silver lining, all that stuff, but for me, there is a line and i feel that lady never even saw the line as she blew pass it.
Did you ask her why she had just committed “eraser-icide?”
I dislike marketing immensely, I hope one day some ubermarketing firm discovers that marketing is not working anymore. Actually Jesus may return sooner then that ever happens, so until then we have to put up with stupid ending of movies and mindnaming insult to our intelligence.
…well, I guess you never said anything about telling a true story.
I write that half jokingly, but it does have an aire of truth about it. Think about it, we all come into a situation from different perspectives. She was obviously slanted toward the strategic / competitive mindset (how do I connect best with my audience?). You, were looking more for context (researching the past to understand the present) – something she might not have a great natural ability to do.
Something that I think is important in an initial interview with a client is to try and gain a good understanding of their personality strengths. For instance: are they positive, strong learners, constantly strategizing, have a great deal of self-assurance – or are they lacking some of these things? When you, as the service provider, understand your client on this intimate level, you can help craft their story where it has the spin they’re looking for along with the truth.
I consider myself a marketing/branding person (my link even goes to a branding site I run), but if I were at that meeting, it would definitely be time to have a serious talk with the client.
I see a company as a merry-go-round, and as a marketer, my job is to give it a solid push and make it go faster.
My job certainly isn’t to set up mirrors and lighting effects so the merry-go-round look like it’s going faster than it actually is. I don’t think anyone benefits from that.
Unfortunately, there are people who specialize in that latter type of marketing, and it sounds like that’s the kind of marketing your client was looking for. When it’s too hard to explain the truth in an appealing way, some folks are quick to resort to fiction.
I think the biggest problem with this is that we now live in a very media-savvy culture, and people can smell “creeping marketerism” a mile away.
Perfectly-crafted fiction holds little appeal for people who are being bombarded with it daily.
I think she should change it so that she has 2.5 kids. That’s probably the national average. I’m not sure what 5 tenths of a kid is like, though.