I have been a speaker at a conference. I have been presenting marketing ideas to students. I have been talking to clients. And ever single time, I keep using an example from Coca-Cola over and over again. It’s probably related to my love for eating pizza and drinking Coca-Cola Zero, but not entirely. The reason I keep using it, is that I believe it’s one of the best examples of storytelling and targeting prospective customers.
Lately, I have been hustling to benefit from keyword research. That’s been my main focus. And I have been doing my best to understand business, and do brilliant work for my clients. I’m not trying to become a problogger, although I have switched focus, to blogging for business. I keep writing every single day. And the more I write, the more I think of stories that I used to tell and that have been with me for a long time.
We Want Stories
The reason why we need to use storytelling when it comes to business, is because people want it. People are used to stories, and they love stories, and if they don’t get a story, they’ll create their own story. It’s better to create the story for people, instead of waiting for them to create their own. If we wait, we won’t be able to control it.
I first started to understand the real power of storytelling when I read Seth Godin’s All Marketers Are Liars. I already understood that stories where being used in marketing, but I had little knowledge about how people perceived them, and what we should be focusing on when it comes to creating and telling the story.
I used to believe that cars are the best examples of storytelling. The car you drive tells a lot about who you are. It’s not just about the advertising, but the stories have been told for many years. Some cars are for people who really care about the environment, some cars are for people who care about safety, more than design, and some cars are more practical than others, and some cars are more or less just symbols of wealth. I don’t know much about cars, I am more familiar with Coca-Cola Zero.
And, I believe that we should all use examples from our experiences and from things we’re familiar with. That’s why I keep using the pizza delivery guy as one of my most used examples of brilliant customer service.
The Real Power of Storytelling From Coca-Cola Zero
The taste is awesome. I should be drinking water. I know. And I do drink water, but once in a while, I love my cold Coca-Cola Zero.
I haven’t been really paying attention to the commercials, or the bottles. It’s more or less just there at the stores, and I grab it when I’m passing by. That’s it.
I remember when it was introduced in Norway during September 2006. I remember thinking that it was no different from Diet Coke (Coca-Cola Light). I couldn’t taste the difference, and the rumors was that it was identical, but that they had created a marketing campaign that was going to help Coca-Cola get more men to drink Diet Coke. And that’s the reason why it’s been called “Bloke Coke”). There’s one very interesting lesson to be learned from what Coca-Cola have done when it comes to storytelling.
Remember. Coca-Cola Zero is more or less identical in the whole world. It shouldn’t taste any different if you buy it in Norway or in the US. The product is the same, even though the artificial sweeteners may vary.
Coca-Cola Zero was the biggest launch from Coca-Cola in 22 years. The target marked is still young adult males. And what they did in the US, was to focus on that the drink is “calorie-free” rather than “diet”. Women are more interested in diet than men, and when you start using different words to describe the same benefits, you start creating a different story.
I have watched the advertisements. They’re always focused on young adult males. I have watched the advertisments for Diet Coke. Do you remember the Diet Coke break? Let’s just leave it at, that it was very easy to spot the targeted audience.
But, what you didn’t know about Coca-Cola Zero is that the marketing is very different in Norway than in the US. In fact, in the US it’s about “calorie-free”, in Norway it’s about “real taste, zero sugar”.
Different people – different problems – different stories
A product should solve a problem, or at least be something people want. It’s not like we market products people need. People don’t really need much. It’s about what they want. It’s a huge difference between need and want. The difference is usually emotions. I don’t need an iPhone or the latest iPad to run my business.
We need to be told different stories. It’s a difference between gender, and it’s a difference between cultures. The stories should be told according to our worldview. If it’s not part of who we are, we won’t believe the story and we won’t be part of the story. In Norway, we’re more focused on not consuming sugar, than the benefits from being calorie free. And that’s why the story of Coca-Cola Zero in Norway has more or less nothing to do with being calorie free.