Lesson 7: Marketing

What You’ll Learn: There’s no reason to go into business if no one knows how to find you. Marketing is a key component of your strategy for success. In this segment, we’ll lift the shroud of mystery surrounding marketing and show you proven tools and techniques for getting the word out to your target customers, even if you’re doing it on a shoestring.

Marketing (continued)

Telling An Authentic Story

Spend time perfecting your story. If you can tell it over and over with ease, accuracy and authenticity, you have it made.

Robert McKee is the dean of storytelling (his course graduates have won 65 Oscars, 200 Emmys and 100 Writers Guild of America Awards). He also consults with corporations around the world, teaching what has come to be known as Storynomics, the art of using story as a corporate marketing strategy.

As humans, we absorb millions of pieces of data every day. Our respective minds automatically sort through all this data and decide what is relevant and irrelevant. Almost 99% of this information is discarded; only 1% is tagged for further attention.

Your brain likes to turn this remaining 1% of data into stories. Humans are storytelling machines because stories help us understand the world around us and our place in this world. Recent MRI research has shown that our brains are hardwired this way. We love to tell stories, we love to share them and we love to hear them.

Let’s run through storytelling in its purest form:

  • As the story begins, the central character’s life, as expressed by core values (happiness/sadness, for instance), is in balance.
  • Then, something happens that upsets this balance and changes a core value one way or the other (happy to sad, love to hate, etc.).
  • Balance must be restored, so the character acts in their own interest.
  • Because of these actions, the core values have been changed back to being in relative balance (sad becomes love again, or dissatisfaction becomes satisfaction).

How does that work in story-driven marketing for a business?

  • As the story begins, the new homeowner (central character) is so excited (core value) to host Thanksgiving for the first time.
  • Then the dishwasher breaks (the inciting incident). The homeowner is freaked out because it’s the day before Thanksgiving and 20 guests are expected.
  • They dread doing all those dishes by hand. Then they remember that your company has a special holiday emergency service and gives you a call.
  • Your repair person shows up, fixes the dishwasher and saves Thanksgiving.
  • The customer doesn’t have to do the dishes and tells all their dinner guests about your amazing emergency service. They also share the story with all their friends on social media, creating even more awareness about your company.


In the old days, you could simply advertise the lowest price in town or the best selection, but the brain doesn’t process this information anymore. There are just too many messages bombarding our brains these days. Yes, price and selection are important, but it’s the story of how you and your products or services fit into a customer’s life and make it better that is remembered and acted upon.

If you want to geek out totally, Bob’s book is available on Amazon and at local booksellers.


Wrapping Things Up

Eventually, you may want to do a full-blown marketing plan, especially if you’re seeking investment through traditional channels such as banks or VCs. These are pretty time-intensive, since a marketing plan requires deep dives into your target audience, competitors, budget, spending strategy, staffing assignments and metrics.

You could, of course, tackle this upfront, but the methods we outlined above should get you on your way. Eventually, putting all these ideas into action will make it easier for you to develop a more detailed plan once you have the staffing to support the larger body of work.

In the early stages, however, it’s best to maintain a flexible plan and experiment a lot to see what works and what doesn’t. This will help you solidify your overarching marketing strategy, which will serve as the foundation for a year-to-year plan going forward.