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Get Your Customers to Remember You By Telling Stories

Here’s the best marketing advice for the lending industry: Tell the story behind the loan. It’s 100 times more memorable, it engages emotionally, and it is the best way to build a brand.

Lending is intangible and abstract, so it’s easy for people to forget why they should care. People don’t forget because lending is boring and the only thing they care about is watching cats on YouTube. The problem is that most loan products are marketed by telling facts, which is the equivalent of the boring history professor who only focuses on facts like mundane dates and names they think are important. Telling stories is what you experience every time you watch a good movie. It’s what you may have experienced if you had a class with an abstract subject like finance that the teacher made interesting by telling stories and giving case scenarios.

Stories are easier to remember than facts because they take advantage of schemas. Schemas are the associations that your brain makes. For example, you’ll have a harder time remembering the letters IBFAIC than if I said FBI or CIA. The words FBI and CIA take advantage of existing schemas, connections in your brain start firing images of the blue words in the FBI badge or the X-Files. The more associations your brand or product have, the easier they are to remember. That’s why we remember brands like Nike or Coke. They simply have more associations.

“Made to Stick: Why Some Ideas Survive and Others Die” by Chip and Dan Hath offers some great advice. Here are some elements they recommend you include in your marketing and branding stories:

The idea should be simple. The Golden Rule is the ultimate model of simplicity: a one-sentence statement so profound that an individual could spend a lifetime learning to follow it. Saying something short is not the mission—sound bites are not the ideal. Proverbs are the ideal. We must create ideas that are both simple and profound. We must become masters of exclusion – relentlessly prioritize.

Generate interest & curiosity. Systematically open gaps in their knowledge and then fill those gaps. Surprise works short term.

Make ideas clear and concrete. Explain ideas in terms of human actions, in terms of sensory information. Naturally sticky ideas are full of concrete images. In proverbs, abstract truths are often encoded in concrete language.

Sticky ideas have to carry their own credentials. We need ways to help people test our ideas for themselves—a “try before you buy” philosophy for the world of ideas.

Make them feel something. We are wired to feel things for people, not for abstractions. Find the right emotion to harness.

I mentioned in my last blog post that marketing efforts should be ‘heavily targeted’ and ‘tailored’. I’ll talk more about that aspect of marketing in my next blog post and also discuss how you can incorporate storytelling to make all your marketing efforts more effective.

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