MK 354 Spring 2010

March 22, 2010

stories – eHarmony

Filed under: blog #6 — Tags: , , , , — marissagkelley @ 12:21 pm

The final element of the Made to Stick SUCCESs model is stories. According to Chip and Dan Heath, “…a credible idea makes people believe. An emotional idea makes people care. And…the right stories make people act” (206). Stories provide a relatable connection that draws attention and empathy, while simultaneously leaving a concrete impression in people’s minds.

One successful example of this theory is the eHarmony advertising campaign. eHarmony offers an Internet dating service through which people can sign up, sign on, and meet their match…literally. eHarmony boasts an array of compatibility tools that give the consumer the best possible chance of meeting someone that they will connect with.

To market this service, the team at eHarmony created a full-fledged campaign based around one single concept: stories. It began with a series of television commercials, in which eHarmony interviewed couples that had met on the site and were now happily in a relationship. The idea caught on quickly, and became eHarmony’s major advertising theme. On YouTube, eHarmony posts video chats that they have conducted with happy eHarmony couples, and on Facebook, couples are invited to share stories of their own.

The campaign demonstrates that the eHarmony marketing strategy was spot on for its target audience. The company realized that that there is a large population of people in the world who are unlucky in love. Finding the perfect partner is a deeply emotional and personal part of someone’s life. eHarmony had to ask themselves, “how can we make the consumer believe that eHarmony is the best answer to their quest for love?”

Its answer involved capitalizing on what the Heath brothers refer to as “the un-passive audience”.  Universally, people are constantly imagining their ideal romantic match. This involves physical traits, personality, temperament, etc. To hear eHarmony couples talking about compatibility, happiness, fulfillment, and satisfaction in their partner capitalizes on existing emotions in the consumer. They begin to imagine themselves as the couples on TV: happily in a relationship with all of their worries and bad breakups behind them. Essentially, they act as the un-passive audience, relating their own lives to the eHarmony stories.

For eHarmony, the strategy worked. Their advertising campaign has made it a top competitor in the online dating service industry. By utilizing the stories of its most successful customers, the company convinces potential customers that they too can be happy and in love with just a few clicks of a mouse.

March 17, 2010

Making the Wind Interesting

Filed under: blog #6 — Tags: , , , , — Zach Cole @ 11:19 pm

The name Epuron isn’t likely to carry a whole lot of meaning for the average person. Unless you’re a serious environmentalist, you probably don’t know that Epuron has been leading the charge for renewable energy for well over a decade. Epuron does great work, but it faced a great challenge. How could its marketers make people care about renewable energy? After all, energy isn’t really all that interesting; in fact, it’s not even tangible.

The answer to Epuron’s problem was found in Mr. W., a tall brute dressed in a dusty black suit with an odd black hat. Mr. W. was a man who had trouble connecting with people because he constantly did unpleasant things. He ruffled the finely groomed hair of pedestrians and blew sand in the eyes of children on playgrounds. People simply do not like him.

The key here is that Mr. W. does not actually exist. He is a personification of the wind in a television commercial for Epuron. Finally, Mr. W. meets a man who understands him and who understands how to use Mr. W.’s power to help, rather than annoy people. This man, of course, represents Epuron, the company that understands how to harness wind energy to help people.

According to Chip and Dan Heath, stories are great marketing tools because they guide us through a series of events as we simulate them in our minds (213). People have a natural tendency to simulate scenarios in their minds because seeing events unfold helps them obtain a greater understanding of the events. Stories simply act as a catalyst for simulation.

By using the story of Mr. W., Epuron found a way to successfully engage the viewer in a story that makes it easier to understand why wind energy is so valuable, while simultaneously raising awareness of Epuron.

Chip and Dan Heath outline three types of story plots: challenge, connection and creativity (226). The Epuron advertisement uses both connection and creativity plots to help its story unfold. Connection plots have to do with interpersonal relationships (229). The viewer is interested in Mr. W.’s plight because he/she wants to understand why Mr. W. is so different than other people. Creativity plots have to do with solving a long-standing puzzle. The man who personifies Epuron has a creative breakthrough when he figures out how to relate to – or use – Mr. W. It is this side of the story that connects the plot to Epuron’s marketing objectives.

The Epuron advertisement is unexpected, and concrete, but without its story it would fail to engage an audience, and wind energy would still be just boring, old, wind energy.

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