Even though I’m in the business of helping companies figure out their best and most interesting story, I get overwhelmed by the number of stories being lobbed at me daily like promotional hand grenades.
Then why do some stories stick out at all? Why are some stories so good at becoming part of our conversational repertoire, getting told over and over in rotation for a week or so until a new favourite story comes along to dislodge the one from last week?
When we all know and believe that word-of-mouth recommendations passed between friends is the holy grail of marketing engagement, what makes a story word-of-mouth-worthy?
One reason I think some stories stick is that they have a high level of bragging rights baked in at the DNA level. They become gossip.
Think about yourself in the story-exchanging jousting tournament of daily life. With your boss before a meeting starts, with your co-workers around the proverbial water cooler, with the bank teller, the butcher, the baker and the candlestick maker, you need to offer a story. It’s what we do as humans. We trade stories like currency to cement relationships.
As humans we’re also always vainly jockeying for position. Whether we do it consciously or not, we want to be seen by the person we’re exchanging stories with in a certain way. One powerful way to control how we’re seen, or how we’re positioned, is through the stories we offer up.
What’s the ideal story to tell?
What stories will we select from those offered to us daily to adopt as our own? The ones that make us look good, show we have insider information or signal we’re part of a crowd that’s in the know. We tell stories about the hottest new restaurant, the latest new research, the most secret underground pub or the best boutique hotel in the world.
As marketers of real estate, or anything, we simply must find what gives our project bragging rights so that our story gets picked up and retold by as many prospects and influencers as possible.
How? There are a bunch of smart strategies, but maybe the simplest one is this: Find something unexpected and bring the most, biggest and best of it to your project. This video is about a restaurant in Philadelphia that sells cheese steaks (it’s Philadelphia, after all) but has carved out a huge story for itself by making the most expensive Philly cheese steak in the world.
Through Neiman Marcus, just in time for Christmas gift giving, you can buy a motorcycle and a two-day ride with Keanu Reeves and Gard Hollinger for $150,000. Will anyone buy it? Probably not, but the word of mouth it generates for the store is priceless.
It’s the same theory as a restaurant that will have a wine list that features one bottle of wine worth $50,000. It’s not there to be bought, it’s there to give people a story to take back into their daily lives and pass along to anyone who will listen.
Find the gossip-worthy aspects of your project
Find the gossip-worthy aspects of your project and promote them. It doesn’t have to be based on price like the examples above. It can be about anything where you’re the most, the best, the biggest, the oldest or the newest. If you don’t have anything worthy of gossip, nothing at all that makes your story stand out in the crowd, you should create one.
Include a feature to feature or build a benefit to brag about.
Make it easy for people to tell your story for you. Get them gossiping.
David Allison works with executive teams in real estate development and other industries to craft the early-stage vision and brand for projects of all kinds. He crystallizes the most interesting version of any story for early stakeholder engagement, internal audiences, regulatory approvals, consultant briefings and investor recruitment. His award-winning work in the real estate sector alone spans decades and continents. His most recent book, The Stackable Boomer, examines the movement of baby boomers to multi-family homes, and includes research results from a 1,000-boomer survey. He can be reached at [email protected].