There are two kinds of advertising.
The goal of the first is to make yours the company the customer thinks of immediately and feels the best about when they – or any of their friends – need what you sell. This is called a “relational” ad campaign. It works better and better with each passing year.
The goal of the second kind of advertising is to cause the reader/listener/viewer to buy something from you immediately. I began my career writing these “transactional” ads. I was good at it. This type of campaign is called “direct response.” Transactional ads work less and less well the longer you run them.
Today I write only the first kind.
If you have the staying power to build a relational ad campaign, you’re going to need to remember your origins. You’re going to have to write your Genesis Story.
There are two kinds of staying power. The first is financial.
Here’s my advice: Don’t launch a relational ad campaign so big that you would not be able to sustain it indefinitely. If you say, “I can fund this for 6 months, but by then it needs to be self-supporting,” then you’re spending more than you can afford. It’s impossible to predict the moment of breakthrough, that moment when all your previously fruitless efforts will begin to radiate results like a newborn sun.
This is why you have to have the second kind of staying power: emotional staying power. Three or four months into your campaign, you’re going to begin to panic. But the only thing worse than never launching a relational ad campaign is to launch one and then abandon it.
Relational ad campaigns are never about having the lowest price. A customer who switches to you for reasons of price alone will just as quickly switch from you for the same reason. And there is nothing that some other company can’t do a little worse and sell a little cheaper.
People don’t bond with companies so easily as they bond with people. We bond with people we like, people we feel good about, people we think we know.
Here are three examples of well-told stories of origin:
Your origin story doesn’t have to be your first ad. Some of the most successful stories of origin have been introduced after the advertiser had already become a household word.
The power of your origin story doesn’t depend on your category of business.
Search your heart and mind. Find your story of origin. Make yourself vulnerable.
Richard Kessler told us that he was once so poor that $700 made a huge difference in his life. The late Woody Justice told us that he believed in God and he believed gemstones are here for a reason. Ken Goodrich told us the memory of his father drives his actions to this day.
What’s the story of how you got to where you are now… from where you were?
You really need to share that story.
Roy H. Williams
PS – Jeff Sexton and Chris Maddock help students develop their origin stories in a class called Brandable Chunks at Wizard Academy. The next session is May 24-25. Also, Professor Sexton has written about Origin Stories in his blog.