I read a terrific post recently at Media Post's Marketing Daily Blog. Sarah Mahoney identifies product labels as an often missed marketing opportunity. Mahoney points to findings by the Hartman Group, a leading "green" research company. I've had the opportunity to work with the Hartman Group and their research and the finding that the opportunity to better use product labels to tell stories about sustainable products is spot on. However this insight can be used as the basis of for connecting with consumers not just for organic/sustainable products and not just on product labels. By integrating three story telling techniques across your marketing mix you can better connect with consumers and build your brand.
1. Tell a compelling story: Don't just give facts. Share your mission, describe your brand essence, make your brand promise, offer a history of how your brand or product came to be or what you are using it to do to create more good in the world.
2. Put a human face on your story: And I don't mean cheesy stock photography. Relate someone to the brand promise, to the product story or to the consumers buying the product. Are you selling peas picked fresh at the farm and flash frozen? How about showing a picture of the farmer who takes great pride in ensuring that those peas are the freshest and best tasting peas?
3. Share your consumer's journey: Hartmann Group research makes a good point:
Finally, she says the company's research shows that for all the media attention that has been given to greenwashing, consumers are less concerned: "They understand that they're taking small steps toward sustainability, and they seem to understand that companies are, as well."
Hardcore perfectionists in any area will either not buy your product or service or will always find something to quible about. Let's say you're taking efforts to make your coffee more sustainable. The most committed will argue over the finer points of fair trade, shade grown, organic and whether or not if you're in the continental U.S. you should even be selling coffee which requires burning of fossil fuels to transport because it is not a crop that is grown locally.
Most consumers who read your story will be happy to know you are on the same journey as are they. You don't need to be perfect. Relatable is great.
An example of a company who takes all three steps with their product is Jones Pure Cane Soda.
1. Compelling story: Their brand promise is simple and authentic. Their story (label copy) tells us this by noting that they make: "Good old soda made with pure cane sugar. No hidden meanings, no billion dollar ad campaigns, and no high fructose corn syrup."
2. Human faces: Well, mostly - sometimes they have pets or trees and such. Jones solicits pictures from consumers to feature on their labels. How much more relatable can they be?
3. Shared journey: They ask you to recycle the bottles. Not bring your own containers. It's not organic. No talk of fair trade sugar. But simple steps towards sustainability like most consumers. Recycle. And as they say: "Run with the little guy... create some change."