Conquering Mind Share Through Stories
Certain products reach a saturation point on how good they can be. In this day and age, a lot of products and services needed to build your product or service are readily available.
For example, if you want to build a SaaS app, there are plenty of platforms that can help you host it, manage it and upkeep it. Ten years back, one had to manage their own servers and databases. If you want to build a physical gadget, you can source the parts from the usual suspects and put something together. Or completely outsource it to an OEM company.
The barrier of entry to build products and services has gone down. And one of your competitors can build something almost as good as yours.
In such a scenario, how would you differentiate yourself and become the category leader? What are your leverage points to dominate your market?
There are three major leverages:
- Your Brand's Story
- Your Distribution
- Network Effects
I will cover distribution and network effects in another article in the future.
In this blog post, let's talk about your brand's story.
Whether it is a personal brand or a corporate brand, without a story, you won't be remembered. The story is what sticks in the minds of people.
Without a story, you are lost in the sea of brands, logos, and marketing slogans that don't mean anything. The story also defines why you do what you do.
You might think that you do not have a unique story to tell, but believe me, everyone has a story.
My story in short (which you might already know about) is:
- Started my career with a motorcycle blog in 2008
- Worked at Exotel, Practo, Instamojo, and Razorpay
- Started blogging about Digital Marketing in 2013 on DigitalDeepak.com
- Started a Digital Marketing Agency PixelTrack in 2017
- Started my EdTech brand LearnToday in 2020
The story of my career and how I got here might not be mind-blowing, but it is true and that's how people identify me. "Oh, Deepak, the guy who was a motorcycle blogger and later started an EdTech."
I also drop hints about my personal life here and there on social media, which makes my personal brand stick in people's minds. People are always curious about what's happening in the personal lives of other people.
I have repeated this story on my blogs, in TEDx talks, on my webinars, and whenever I introduce myself to people. I have leveraged it because I've seen the kind of traction that personal stories get.
My TEDx talk with this story has got more than 1M views.
I also got featured in the Google Knowledge Panel and the about me section tells the same story.
And almost every startup that I've worked with, has a strong story weaved by its founders and co-founders.
Did you know that Practo was inspired by the founder's father struggling to organize their medical records in the USA long back? That's when the founder wanted to digitize medical records which led to the founding of the company. That's a story to remember.
Did you know that Razorpay was initially a payment collection system designed for collecting school fees online? The founders went around in a two-wheeler, in Jaipur, under the hot sun, and tried to talk to the administration of every school in the city. That's a story to remember.
Now that I have given you a glimpse of the story behind Razorpay and Practo, I'm pretty sure that you would never forget that whenever you come across the brands. It sticks because it is personal and inspiring.
The story is always about people and not the company. Because the company is made of people. That's why I insist that everyone should focus on personal branding because that's what people remember.
When you think about Lenevo does it make you remember any story? Probably not. Think about Apple, you can't not think about Steve Jobs.
When you think about Toyota, do you remember any story? Probably not. But think about Tesla, and you can't not think about Elon Musk.
Brands without a story behind them lack emotion and hence can be easily forgotten. Brands with a persona behind them and a story that's inspiring have emotion.
Many visionary founders have leveraged their personal stories to make their brands household names. And there is nothing stopping you from doing the same.
Personal branding doesn't mean becoming a content creator or an Instagram influencer. It means that you leverage your story (that is genuine) to the fullest extent because that's what sticks in people's minds.
Elon Musk is not a content creator, but there is a lot of content about him out there because of what he does. And he doesn't hesitate to talk about the challenges he went through in his life. He is not afraid of being judged.
As a founder, the best option is to start publishing content yourself and adding the story within the content. The next best option is to talk about it in podcasts and interviews.
Brands think that they are battling for market share. No. Market share is a side effect of mind share. When consumers think about a specific problem, what brand comes to mind? That's mind share. If your brand doesn't come to mind, forget trying to get a market share.
Think Digital Marketing. Think Digital Deepak. That's how I have built my personal brand. I have built this brand through a personal story that has been repeated as much as possible.
And I am building more brands, to capture mind-share in each category.
- Think accelerated education. Think LearnToday.
- Think performance marketing. Think PixelTrack.
- Think hiring. Think HireToday. (Yet to be launched)
All these brands will be seeded by my personal story. It will reinforce why I do what I do. And we will also leverage the personal stories of the A-team that we work with.
One of the reasons people hesitate to leverage their personal stories is the risk of exposing themselves to criticism. Some also believe that the product should scale up on its own merit without a story needed to add fuel to it.
But remember, you already have a personal brand, whether you know it or not. People are going to talk, whether you want them to or not. Better take control of it and make sure that you control the narrative around it.
Talk about your failures, talk about your challenges, talk about the things that were thrown at you. Everyone loves to hear that. And they will appreciate it, remember it and share it with others.
The best way to capture mind-share is to tell a story.
Telling a story is what has made people pay attention for 1000s of years. And stories are what are going to capture people's attention for 1000s of years in the future.
Get people's attention first. The sales (and the votes) will come.