You're sat around with your mates having a beer, it's the height of summer and everybody is enjoying the longer evenings, there's chatter in the air, and the sense that this could go on forever. Then somebody reaches into their pocket, pulls out the latest whatever-it-might-be, and the conversation stops dead.
"I didn't know you liked them?" is the cry.
So you start talking about why you bought it, how it makes you feel, what the company behind it stands for, how it connects to you, how it makes things easier. Yes, you really do like them.
Been here? Sound familiar? It happens a lot – you fall in love with a product, be it a phone, a dress, Instagram – and, like a gateway drug, before you know it you're so far involved with this company's ecosystem of products and services and followers that not anything that anybody says is ever going to change your mind.
As the company in this scenario, isn't this the holy grail? Don't you want your customers to be so enthused by your offer that they actively promote, and defend, your product or service; that your widget becomes so popular that it stops conversations, starts debates, and your customers are willing and happy ambassadors of your brand?
So how is it that the Apples, Uggs, or Ferraris of this world, with their mass followings and super-engaged customers, come to be? How do you get your product so well-liked that people will stand up and be counted as a supporter, even to their friends and family, even eventually turning those friends and family into even more supporters?
In comparison to the latest phone, designer boots, or super cars, sauces and purées may sound a little mundane, but in a world where we're bombarded with celebrity chefs, TV baking competitions, and a plethora of top-end restaurants in almost every city you can visit, people are more fanatical about what they eat than ever before. And with that, comes a real opportunity.
Nectar of the Gods is a sauce and purée manufacturer. They have seen this rise in the popularity of good, wholesome food, and they're ready to take a dip into the world of home cuisine. Established under a different guise some twenty years ago, Nectar has been developing products for chefs and their restaurants for years. But, seeing a potential gap in the market, they decided they wanted to sell direct to the consumer themselves.
But there was a problem – despite having been in the business for the best part of a generation, very few had ever heard of them, so getting to the position of having a cult following of avid customers seemed very far away.
When we met Nectar, it was immediately obvious that this was a company that had soul. Everything about the way they talked, the way they walked, and the way they were insanely passionate about their business, was infectious – it was like somebody had shook a fizzy drink and released the cap. Boom!
So, we set to to work making sure every single person who would ever come into contact with Nectar got that exact same experience. Fun, light-hearted, captivating humour was the name of the game, it was who the company was, and we thought the best way to attract invested customers, was to put that humour front and centre.
You see, Nectar's success is not just based on the incredible products that they make, but the way they make them, the reason they make them, and the journey they've taken to get to where they are. In essence, their story, their reason for being, is what makes them who they are.
Storytelling is often thought of a pastime, as something you reserve for children, or those moments where you actually get the time to sit down with a good book. But to assume this is the only time storytelling is useful is to miss the point entirely. The fact is, humans love stories. They love finding out about people and places and companies through the stories that they tell, through the journey that they've taken, their obstacles, pitfalls, and challenges, as well as their successes, breakthroughs, and milestones. And to not share that with your customers is to meet somebody for the first time and say absolutely nothing.
With Nectar, in a recent campaign for their upcoming direct-to-consumer sauces and purées, we decided to play on the humour that is so intrinsic to the company's DNA. They came up with such a great name – it would have been insane to simply let that slide and not play on that within the designs themselves. So when we pitched the idea of suggesting gods had been involved in the market research of the products, and that those gods had unanimously suggested that puréed nectar was the best nectar of the gods you could get, well, it just seemed like the natural thing to do. A little silly, extremely playful, but utterly perfect for this company.
And that's the great thing about telling your story to your customers – as soon as you do, you open yourself up to them, you point them to the thing that makes you you, and if there's something humans love to know, it's the why and the how of other humans. And companies. And products. And once they have that understanding of what drives you, what defines you, why it is that you are selling the thing you're selling, bonds are made, connections happen, and before you know it, that mass following you were hankering for might not be as unobtainable as first you thought.
So give it go. Tell your story, tell it well, and keep telling it. Affinities are not created overnight, it takes time and patience, a great campaign, and perhaps a little bit of luck, but if you master that convincingly and enthusiastically, customers will fall in love with what you sell and who you are – when your story becomes part of a customer's story, well, you've nailed it.
And they all lived happily ever after.