Tell a Memorable and Relevant Story to Make Your Content Marketing Positively Viral

geico therapist throwing kleenex box Geico’s Drill Sergeant Therapist Gets It Just Right. Mayflower Marionette Gets It All Wrong.

Even though they spend plenty of money on television advertising, Geico doesn’t need to spend much money at all for this incredibly effective commercial which is one of a series that are similarly effective.

On the other hand, Mayflower has created an elaborate series of giant marionette television commercials which are certainly expensive but almost as certainly ineffective.

Geico Makes a Simple Point and Ties It to a Compelling Story

The commercial begins with an intro asking whether Geico can really save you 15% on automobile insurance and then segues into a little vignette that tells a story that virtually all of us would believe would be intuitively true. The connection is then simply made between the story and the saving of 15% on automobile insurance.

This commercial series is not about some highfalutin branding or image making. Rather, it’s about telling a simple story that is not only easy to remember but is also easy to retell. Even better, most of these Geico ads are also pretty darned funny. That makes them even more memorable.

The best content marketing should include compelling stories to which your customers and prospects can relate easily. This may be hard to do. But it does not have to be expensive.

The Geico drill sergeant commercial proves that point. Although they probably paid a lot of money to the actor playing the role of the brutal therapist, in principle, this commercial could’ve been made for almost nothing. It consists simply of the introductory announcer, two actors and a small, basic set representing a therapist’s office.

That’s the kind of video that you could re-create on your website to tell a compelling story. Perhaps, it wouldn’t be quite so funny, but it might be just as memorable if you make sure that the story is both relevant and compelling for your customers. And, that’s all about your mindset, not about the amount of money you spend.

If you haven’t seen my favorite drill sergeant therapist, here’s the video:

Mayflower movers get it all wrong with their slightly creepy series of giant marionette commercials.

mayflower puppet walking down street I’m guessing that these were very expensive to produce.The special effects are pretty impressive.  But, the story that Mayflower tries to tell is not impressive at all.

In the long version of the commercial, there is no explanatory introduction about why we’re watching what we’re watching.  Apparently, the agency figured that we would be fascinated enough to follow the path of a giant female marionette as she travels on the highway and is eventually deposited at what we assume to be her new house.

All along the way, a bunch of guys manipulate the progress of this enormous marionette a bit like handlers of balloons at Macy’s Thanksgiving day parade. At the end of the commercial, when they plunk her into a chair, it’s not clear how she’s going to be able to get out of the chair–let alone fit into a house that is much too small for her gargantuan size.

The commercial concludes without explanation except for the insertion of a final tagline that somebody fell in love with: "Every step of the way." This, of course, is when our giant ah ha moment arrives and we are supposed to think: "Oh I get it–‘every step of the way’ just like the giant marionette was stepping across the country."

Thus, Mayflower has spent lots of money and too much of our time metaphorically leading us to that final tagline cliché, "every step of the way," which doesn’t really tell us anything. We are simply left with the weird image of a giant marionette sitting in a lawn chair after a long, strange journey cross-country.

Bottom line: Effective content marketing should include storytelling that creates a clear, concise, and compelling narrative that your customers will both remember and repeat. If you tell a great story, as Geico does, you’ll be happy with the meme that you have created on TV or on the Web. On the other hand, if you tell a terrible story, as Mayflower has done, prospective customers may be talking about you, but you’re not likely to benefit from what they have to say.


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