Howard Stern Said A Thing That Matters About Storytelling, Authenticity, & Marketing

Chad Batka for The New York Times

We know about storytelling.

If you’re a marketer, you know storytelling is everywhere. It’s my bread and butter… but even I get tired of hearing about every new guru’s storytelling insights in marketing blogs and interweb clickbait articles, that are all saying essentially the same things over and over… “People are hardwired for story. Don’t pitch your product, tell real stories about real people and your audience will respond. Don’t force it, be organic.”

All true. And we all know it.

What I like is stumbling across storytelling observations where I don’t expect to find them… especially outside the context of a marketing publication or LinkedIn group.

Howard’s Got Years Of Testing Data

I was pleasantly surprised to see this quote from Howard Stern… with years and years of experience interviewing people, mostly celebrities, mostly celebrities who are hawking their latest projects, this passage from Howard was telling, and oh-so-true.

“If someone comes in and the audience feels like ‘Oh my god, I love this person,’ they will want to see their movie,” he said. “It’s a strange thing to say to someone trained in P.R., but it’s the God’s honest truth. If someone has an hour to sit and talk about their life and at the end they say, ‘By the way, that’s what brought me to this movie, or to write this book,’ it’s such a powerful vehicle for promotion.” – Source: New York Times (This is a great article btw, and not at all focused on marketing… this is one small observation in a long and insightful interview.)

There is so much truthiness in this humble observation. Our goal as brand marketers is to create trusting relationships with not just our customers, but with the broader audience of “people who may be our customers someday even if they’re not in the market for what we’re selling right now.”

These entertainers that Howard is talking about, in his experience, have the most success and do their brands and projects the most good when they don’t sell, but rather simply share honestly and intimately, and “oh-by-the-way here’s how this all relates to this latest project.

Note that one comment – “It’s a strange thing to say to someone trained in P.R..” Sadly, despite how much we keep hearing about storytelling, it’s a true statement… most brands, and maybe most marketers, still see it as a foreign concept. And maybe don’t even buy it.

That’s a mistake.

What That Means For Us

We have to stop “selling” and stop being “product specific” and focus on sharing ourselves (read: brand) with our audience. Building trust, and authority, so that one day, should they need what we offer, they’ll be inclined to reach out to us.

If you subscribe to the branding model that includes “Vision Statement,” “Mission Statement,” “Essence,” “Personality,” and “Position or Value Proposition”, you could say that we should focus on “essence and personality” first, followed by “vision and mission”, and lastly “value proposition and product.”

I’d much rather find organic, battle-tested insights and references from sources like this than from the latest “6 Steps To Using Story To Sell” blog post from a marketing agency.

What about you?

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