In the past few years, there’s been a lot of talk in marketing about “story” and how important it is to communicating messages about your company, your products, and your brand—especially on the Internet. Lots of web marketing types have tried to sell you on “telling stories” that compel consumers to consider doing business with you. And lots of companies took their advice and created web videos and blogs and other content designed to tell their stories to the world.

And the world didn’t care.

Which doesn’t mean the idea of “story” was wrong. Because it’s true: story should be the foundation of your messaging in the world. What’s wrong has been the idea that people are interested in your story about your company or product. They’re simply not. They’re interested in stories about themselves.

 

You have to show people how your product or service fits into their story about themselves. In common marketing terms, your brand is “what people out there in the world think and feel about you.” I’d take it a step further: your brand is actually the story people tell themselves and each other about you.

You might say, “But that’s just it: people don’t know me and don’t tell each other about me.” I’d say, that’s a brand, too. It might be a weak, invisible brand with a boring story.

To do better marketing, find a way to stop telling stories about yourself. Start finding ways to connect your brand with people’s stories about themselves. Think of your brand as part of a story that is both bigger and more personal, and watch the world start to care.