Bernadette Jiwa is one of my professional heros. The woman speaks my language... or perhaps it's me that speaks hers, since she's influenced Stark & Splendor in so many ways through the gold that she posts on her blog, The Story of Telling.
She was the first marketing expert that articulated what I intuitively knew to be true: love and empathy are, in fact, some of our most powerful strategies for winning in today's noisy, cluttered, staticky digital world.
The most recent gold that Bernadette has dropped into my lap is her newest book, Meaningful: The Story of Ideas That Fly. The basic premise is that we as marketers and business owners often approach the innovation process backwards. We tend to start with an idea that we love, and then spend our budgets (and break our backs) trying to get others to love it too. All the while we think, "there must be an easier way!"
Meaningful charts out the path of lesser resistance.
What if we started with the customer's story? What if we understood what was meaningful to them and only created in alignment with that insight? What would innovation look like? How would our marketing change?
"Just as the best stories change the people who encounter them, the brands businesses, movements, products and services that succeed by being meaningful change people too. There is a life and a way of being before the product or service existed, and a life and a way of being after it."
"...if there is no change in the customer, there is no innovation."
On marketing today...
"Marketing has gone from this...
Awareness --> Attention --> Action
Attraction --> Affinity --> Action"
On cause and effect...
"When we encourage people to believe that something matters, we attract the kind of people who care about that something. Soon buying from us becomes part of their identity--their story. The experience--our posture and products, and the story the business owner is inviting the customer to buy into--is what creates the customer."
On emotional capital...
"We have come to care about all parts of the buying journey as much as we care about ownership."
On old rules of brand awareness...
- Make something for everyone.
- Tell our story.
- Attract customers.
- Build brand awareness.
On new rules of brand awareness...
- Understand the customer's story.
- Make something they want.
- Give them a story to tell.
- Create brand affinity.
"People...want to become invested in the businesses and brands that they choose to support, and they want those brands to be a part of the stories they tell both to and about themselves."
"I'm here to tell you that giving a damn is seriously underrated and caring is a competitive advantage."
How legit is this woman? I could go on and on sharing excerpts, but the most practical part of the book is Bernadette's framework for "giving a damn." It's called The Story Strategy, and in Meaningful she models how to use it by applying it to the innovation journey of a bunch of wonderful brands that we all know and love...Go Pro, Canva, Harry's, and Khan Academy, to name a few.
The Story Strategy can be applied to product R&D and organizational strategy, but it's also so instructive for specific marketing communications campaigns, copywriting or content creation.
I've been using it a lot and have found it to be a wonderful tool for getting me focused on the customer's story first and foremost.
I would heartily recommend this book to anyone that is a student of branding and/or is intent on creating things of consequence in this world.