The following is a guest post from Network for Good's CSO & COO, Katya Andresen. The article also appeared on Katya's Nonprofit Marketing Blog. And P.S., if you want a great example of a cause campaign that casts the audience as the hero of the story, check out Network for Good's partner Warner Bros. Entertainment, with DC Comics, and the "We Can Be Heroes" campaign (also featured on this blog).
Check out this fantastic video on the story wars.
Here’s the idea: We shape our understanding of the world through mythical stories. But our world has grown complex, and the myths that once served us well do not always provide the insights and guidance we need to navigate our world. Enter marketers, who have become our modern-day myth makers, for good or for ill. But many of their stories are manipulative and inauthentic. Jonah Sachs calls this the story wars - the fight to be heard in an era when the myths that were the foundation of our society have crumbled and the marketing messages that are their surrogates are starting to backfire.
So how do good causes enter the fray and provide the narratives that will move people in the right ways? Sachs cites marketing’s first great storyteller, John Powers’ advice—“Tell the Truth, Be Interesting, and Live the Truth.”
In his upcoming book, Sachs makes a heartfelt plea for “empowerment marketing myths” - myth-making that calls people to citizenship and to live their values. Iconic brands like Nike and Apple get it - and have broken through and touched hearts with the approach. He believes it is the way to get heard and make a better world.
He knows his stuff - he was the mind behind the Story of Stuff, in fact. So take a page from his playbook. Tell empowering stories that cast the audience in the role of the Hero. It’s what made our earliest stories great, and it’s what inspires us be bigger than ourselves.