I intrigued, puzzled and bemused at a story last week about Estee Lauder creating “micro-storytelling” as a new strategy. Heralded as something new, it means they are going to stop telling just one story and tell a few smaller ones.
That doesn’t sound that new to me. But it probably is very new to a big business. If you think of old advertising models, then it’s just one story, pushed out at you, time after time. Until they decide to move onto the next story.
Now, as small businesses, it would be very rare to have the kind of marketing budget that allowed you just to focus on telling one part of your story. And if you have got a marketing budget, it probably isn’t going to be your wisest investment to put it all behind one activity.
If you think about the things you do with your customers, you probably tell them stories about different parts of your business. You talk about your products. You talk about your team. Maybe you even talk about how you got started, where the idea came from.
And you might talk about all of those things in one conversation at the farmer’s market for example.
You see, I think small businesses have always done “micro” storytelling because they didn’t have the cash to do anything else. Which means you can be miles ahead in terms of telling stories.
Why the big boys want to do micro-storytelling
According to the brand’s VP/Global Consumer Marketing and Engagement (don’t you love American job titles?) “you’re not going to get somebody to bond to you because you just told them one story, one time.”
Well, it’s taken them some time to get there.
They have been a little, shall we say blinkered, by their own processes. She went on to say “often, brands will have that one story that they stick to”. Probably because that’s what the marketing rulebook had said for many years.
The internet and social media have given smaller businesses the tools to tell stories directly to their customers, or prospective customers. They’ve been able to tell new stories on a daily or hourly basis because they’re small, agile, and quick to react.
Not words you might associate with one of the biggest beauty brands in the world, or any other big business in any industry. And now they want a piece of what you’ve been doing. Because it’s what customers have loved about your brands and the brands that are growing really quickly and nibbling away at their business.
Kylie Kardashian has grown a $1bn beauty business in 3 years, with no big brand (other than surname) behind her, no retailer. Of course, she had the benefit of a massive TV show, but what is TV but storytelling? And I know some would argue that every week is the same in that household, but I’m not so sure. The stories on Instagram and Snapchat have changed daily, hourly, and she has built a tribe of followers.
Micro-storytelling before it had a name.
What small businesses should do about them muscling in
Well, nothing different.
Keep focused on your stories, and the people who want to hear them from you. Don’t get distracted. If what you’re doing is working for you, then keep doing it.
This might be just the latest thing for big brands, which they might try and keep, or try and move on.
They will do it beautifully, and with lots of production values. The thing is, there are tools that allow you to produce stunning quality work quite simply. We’ve all moved on a lot from Clipart. You can keep doing the things your customers love and want to see and hear from you.
Who wants one story anyway?
It’s amazing that it took them so long really. I mean, who only reads one book for their whole life? Eats one meal? Buys one brand?
None of us thinks for one moment that our customers are loyal to our businesses, not even necessarily for all their spending within our category. All we can hope is that our story resonates with them enough, that they do choose us some of the time, and hopefully several times over. Preferably each month or year.
So, stop worrying about them. Keep worrying about telling your customers your many, multi-faceted stories in the ways that work for them. Keep creating a great plan. You know what they say, you know you’re winning when you’re being copied. So be flattered that you’ve got them rattled.