Stop describing your Brand and tell a story

People should feel something when they see your ads or content. And yet when your target audience sees or reads your content–your ads or product copy–you get the equivalent of glazed-over eyes during a boring presentation.

Do you get this look?

Is it because you described your product? You listed all its amazing features of which you are rightfully proud. But people want to hear how your product will affect them – not the list of functions.

They want to hear a story. If this is tough for you, join the club. Enter Ella, Mattr’s official shop dog.

Try composing an ad to sell your Dog

To illustrate the storytelling-versus-features list difference, imagine writing an ad to sell your dog. Here’s my “before” copy for Ella:

“Dog for sale. 115 pounds, 30″ high at the shoulders. Hardly sheds. Eats no more than 20 pounds of food per month!”

It’s an accurate description with good selling points, but I felt nothing reading it.

Ella, Mattr's Shop Dog

Ella, Mattr’s Shop Dog

Let’s tell a story, instead:

“My flight home from JFK left late which, together with the strong headwinds, means I’ll get home around 1 a.m. As I walk to my car in the dark, the air is cold, sooty and heavy, more like San Francisco than Austin. On the drive home, I start thinking about the week. It was just ok. It may have been worth the investment but I’m not positive.

I’m wiped, but that taunting 3 a.m. wake up will surely haunt me tonight, feeding on my anxieties. Crap.

I pull in the driveway, the front light is off so I fumble my keys to find the lock. There’s all sorts of crap in the entryway because our bedroom flooded and the furniture is all over the house. I stub my damn toe on an effing bed rail and let loose a tense string of cuss words. I almost want my wife or daughter to wake up and see what upset me. Give me company.

Of course, Ella, my Great Dane, wakes up. She comes wagging with the quiet confidence of a friend who knows when not to talk, and blocks me from going anywhere until I give her some attention.


Great Danes are very effective at this.


I give her a hard, long neck hug. Her nails slide along the floor and her front feet lose purchase but I hold her upright even tighter, she nuzzles me, coos softly.

I make my way to the sofa with a glass of beer and she lightly steps up with that surprising grace of a 280 pound linebacker, and contorts herself into an impossibly small area for her size. Great Danes are very effective at this, too. Her coat smells damp and her belly, when I scratch it, like Fritos. Better than Fritos.

She gently lays her heavy warm head on my lap. She sighs big. I sigh big. Without realizing it, I’m following her steady breathing until we breathe in a steady, synchronized cadence.

I sleep like a ten year old boy and wake up happy at 8 a.m., feeling fortunate that I have this dog.

Sure it’s corny, but I’m starting simple.

Four Hints to Engage their Emotions

  1. Determine the negative emotions your audience experiences that your Brand could fix, eg., anxiety, sadness, frustration, loneliness.
  2. Remember the formula: Beginning = bad, Middle = you came, End = it was great
  3. Make sure your audience can relate to the benefactor-protagonist in your story. If you’re talking to mid-level marketers, help one of them out instead of the Chief Marketing Officer.
  4. Keep it real and simple. That story about Ella and me could be captured in an image and one line of copy, or a six-second Vine, if I were talented enough.

Everything is a Story

Your Brand story could be you, interviewing for a job, or a pitch for a campaign to your agency’s biggest client, or for a budget increase to your boss. It could be the new share feature that makes the consumer feel a part of a community, or the service that helped a product manager launch her product on time.

If you take a deep breath before launching into the feature list, you can create the story that they’ll love.


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