Marketing | Cherry Pit Solutions

Category Archives: Marketing


Who is your protagonist?

When you tell a great story of your business, product or service, who are you aiming your story at? This is the most important question I ask all my clients – “who is your ideal customer?”

Notice I didn’t ask, “who is your average customer?” as your average customer is generally not the person you want the most. Most often your average customer is not the one that generates the most profit. Your ideal customer on the other hand, is the one that causes the least hassle and pays their bills promptly, without fuss. So, you want to target your adverting at the person you want to attract to your business.

Every great story has a protagonist – the person in the story that has to change in some way in order to give the story meaning and purpose. After all, if nothing changes and there is no great revelation within a story, then you would leave the cinema or put down the book and say “So what?” – and the same is true for your advertising.

Every story needs a protagonist and the protagonist has to grow in some way to give purpose to the story, and this is true for your marketing story as well. When you create great narrative to promote your business products and services, then you need to have your very own protagonist at the centre of your story.

Take for example the TV commercial for the new Amazon Kindle Fire HD. This ad has a very clear protagonist, a busy mum with a 101 things to do every day. Which busy mum doesn’t identify with this and the problem of dropping things and putting them in the wrong place? The protagonist in this case is just learning why she bought the Kindle instead of the iPad.

Take this commercial from 1983 for Yellow pages (the pre-Internet version of Google). In this ad the protagonist is J R Hartley, he spends time searching for a book using the old fashioned way of travelling from shop to shop, only to return home empty handed. Then he is handed a copy of the Yellow Pages to phone shops instead of visiting them and the scene closes with him finally finding the book. This is a typical quest story and the protagonist reaches his goal because he uses the Yellow Pages.

Your business must have a protagonist. In marketing terms this is referred to as your avatar – the ideal customer. For example, if your product is aimed squarely at married men in their 40s, then you need to have a protagonist as a married man in his 40s.

Now you need to create the story around him. You have to identify their problem and include a positive shift in their fortunes as a result of using your product or service.

Intel have long been the largest microprocessor manufacturer, but in recent years they have seen massive competition from the likes of ARM in the mobile space. They have also seen that a lot of tablet users are frustrated that they can’t always do the same as they can with their laptop, so then end up with both. Having identified this problem, they are working on shifting the buying criteria of the business user with this ad. In this ad the protagonist doesn’t even speak.

Nothing speaks to your ideal customer more than experiencing the benefits of your product or service from their point of view. Once they have bought your product the job has been done, but until then you have to get them to identify with your protagonist.

Your protagonist needs three things:

  1. They must have a problem or challenge that your target audience can identify with.
  2. They must be the type of person your target audience can identify with in terms of age, gender and social group.
  3. There must be clear synergy between them, your product and your target audience. If there is any disconnect at all, your message will fall down at this point.

When you incorporate all these factors into your advertising, you get to power through the questions your target audience have and fit their key desires fast.

So, from this post and the last you have the plot of your story and the protagonist, but what should the narrative be? We will cover that in the next post.

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Once Upon A Time …

Once upon a time there was a princess … no wait that was a fairy tale and unfortunately creating a great business doesn’t usually include a fairy godmother or three wishes. However, most great businesses do have a great story behind them and the success of your business will be determined by the stories you build around your products, services and brand.

Even if the story is not told in a direct way, when you look closely, you can see that there is a narrative driving the language and presentation or every piece of marketing.

It is also important to remember is that every story has to be aimed at a specific audience – with fairy tales it’s mostly children – and in your business you need to know who your audience is for your story. No matter how you look at it, marketing is all about story telling. So the better you are at creating great stories around your products, services and brand, the better your audience will identify with you.

Whether it’s the story of your business, the story of a customer, the story of your journey or just a representative narrative, every story has to have the right structure to get the message across.

So what’s in a story?

When you look at any of the major stories that have stood the test of time, there are three key elements that allow the story to come through in a compelling way:

  1. The protagonist
  2. The narrative
  3. The plot of the story

When you look at these three elements in more detail you can see how they are the same elements that matter to the messages in your marketing. Whether you are putting out a tiny pay-per-click ad on a search engine or an ad on TV, you need to consider all three of these elements to ensure that your message matches the brand expectations of your target audience.

Who is the protagonist?

When we talk about the protagonist in the context of marketing we are talking about the character representing your ideal customer, often referred to as your avatar. For example, if your ideal customer were a 27-year old career woman, you would use a character of that type as the main protagonist of your story. I will write more about that in a future article.

The narrative

People love a good story, Disney Studios has made a multi-billion Dollar business out of fairy tales for kids and they’re not the only ones. There’s nothing better at getting a message across than telling a compelling story that your audience can identify with. I will write more about this in a future article, but for now I want to look at the plot as this is represents the framework that will allow your message to be received.

So what is the plot of your message?

In every story there is an underlying theme or plot type and there are just seven types of plot to any story. In order to get your message across effectively you have to use one of these plot types, otherwise it is highly likely that your audience will miss the point.

  1. Overcoming the Monster

In this plot type, the protagonist must defeat an evil force or antagonist, which threatens the protagonist or the protagonist’s family. In marketing the ‘Monster’ represents the challenge that your product or service overcomes.

  1. Rags to Riches

This is a very common plot type that is often over used in personal development. In this plot type the protagonist starts in a state of lack, then acquires things such as power, wealth or a soul mate, but then loses it all only to gaining it all back again once they grow as a person – using your product or service.

  1. The Quest

Although all the plot types are used in various marketing pieces, this is one you see a lot, even in 30-second TV ads. With this plot type the protagonist sets out to achieve an important objective, facing many challenges and obstacles along the way and finally wins out using your product or service.

  1. Voyage and Return

The voyage and return is another plot type that is used in TV ads often where the protagonist goes on a great adventure and, after overcoming dangers and challenges, returns with nothing but muddied knees – to a familiar product.

  1. Comedy

Humour and a light-hearted narrative with a happy ending is something that is extremely popular, and it works wonders in getting a strong message across whilst keeping the audience engaged.

  1. Tragedy

Tragedy may not be the most obvious of plots for a marketing campaign, but it is used a great deal, as a way to show how not having a product can be a disaster. In this plot type the protagonist comes to a sticky end in some way, which seems a little counter intuitive, but you add a simple twist at the end to get the message across. By adding another character right at the end of the story that does not have the same tragic end because they have your product or service the audience can see how to avoid the same problem. This plot type is used a great deal in campaigns by insurance companies.

  1. Rebirth

The rebirth plot type is probably the most common plot type in the long sales letter and marketing videos. In this plot type an important event forces the protagonist (usually the creator of the product) to strike out in a new direction. Often they initially make great progress only to face an unexpected obstacle and lose everything. They then create a new approach to this challenge, creating an amazing breakthrough, achieving their goal, making them a better person and making life much easier.

Whatever you are selling and whoever you are selling it to, whether a company message, a services or a physical product, create a story, with a protagonist and a plot that leads to the ultimate happy ending and you will be far more effective than 99% of your competitors at getting your message across.

In the next article I will look at how to create and use a protagonist or avatar for your stories and ads.

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Marketing Isn’t Everything …

… It’s The Only Thing

I recently had a customer that didn’t like the idea of investing in marketing, he was happy to do a little here and there, but he wanted his business to be above the hype and the gloss of the other companies.

Little wonder his business was a fraction of the size of the top businesses in his market. He believed that those who appreciated the science behind his products would be happy to buy and that those who were taken in by the hype and razzmatazz of the big companies would eventually come to realise their mistakes. Unfortunately, I have known this business for over 20 years and they are still much smaller than the companies that embrace marketing and let it lead their business direction.

You might think he is right to focus on his product, sell it for a lower price than the others and then accept that his business will never reach its full potential, but I believe Jay Abraham had it right when he said this attitude is selfish and means that many people are condemned to waste their money and suffer with inferior products because of short sighted attitudes to sales and marketing. Continue reading

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What is Brand Design?

When it come to the largest business in the world, they rarely talk about marketing and advertising directly, usually they talk about brand building, brand marketing, brand advertising. This is because they recognise that the real value of their business lies within the perceived value of the brand they own.

Look at Virgin, their business is massively multifaceted, with a very wide mix of products and services across multiple market sectors, and if they wanted to they could add almost anything to their existing mix of businesses and that business would automatically have an advantage over other players within the sector, provided the new product or service matched the Virgin brand image. And, that is the key, Virgin has a brand image that instantly builds trust in the mind of the customer. Richard Branson worked tirelessly on building the image of the brand over multiple decades to the point where it is now is a multi-billion dollar global business. Continue reading

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What Is Marketing?

For many businesses, they envisage spending loads of money on advertising for a trickle of customers that barely pays the cost of the advert – that is not marketing

Marketing is not just about advertising or traffic generation, marketing is about everything your business does that has an impact on the customer. And as your business should only ever be focused on things that have an impact on the customer that means that everything your business does is to do with marketing. Continue reading

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