“Contrary to what we tend to assume, the normal state of the mind is chaos.” From Flow by Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi.
This is what makes stories so powerful. They take the chaotic state of the mind and create order. They create a system of rules and boundaries that we can live in for a time.
I daydreamed a lot when I was a boy and created stories my mind of how things could be or how things should go. Reflecting on the quote above, I find that most of the things I’ve enjoyed in life have created stories for me that I could live in.
If we can alter someone’s self image to be made up of our brand, we can sell them anything.
You and I create our self images based on how we see the story of life making sense. Whether that’s a story we’ve created or one that’s been handed to us. Most often, I think it’s been handed to us. We love the order stories bring, but the effort it takes to create them is usually more burdensome than living someone else’s story and avoiding mental chaos.
Since mental chaos is painful, and without a story to fall back on, the mind reverts to thinking on things most problematic like emotional wounds, anxieties, or other problems, anyone or anything that can reengage and order the thinking will become strongly liked by those participating in it. Let’s be the people who do this for others, with our message, with our products.
If the stories we give people as marketers can organize thought for our audiences, then they’ll form the habit of coming to us for one of their most needed solutions. They’ll look to us and what we produce to save them from the chaos of the mind, to save them from thinking about their problems, anxieties, and fears.
I know this can all sound manipulative…it is. I’d make the case that at some level we’re all trying to manipulate others in some way, and that manipulation is only unwise when guiding people towards destructive behavior. As marketers, we’re all trying to shape the thinking and behavior of others towards our own ends which is really all manipulation is. Personally, this is why I perform best when I know what I’m selling is healthy and helpful.
So use these powers for good, go include your customers in positive heroic stories, and help people reorder their thoughts to include helpful thoughts, ideas, products, and services. They’ll love you for it!