Striking a Universal Chord in Storytelling: Part 1 – Marketing

Dec 13, 2012 | Communication, Marketing

By: Scott Feather

This is part one of a blog series on the art of using the “5 Human Universals” presented by Donald Brown in marketing and storytelling. To review the introduction to this series, readStriking a Universal Chord in Storytelling: Introduction.

These five universals are set up as “fears of _______” with a corresponding “need for ______”.Here we will explore the first set of these universals. Humans have a fear of death. There is no greater fear in life, (Okay, maybe public speaking is pretty close) but ultimately our own death or the death of a family member, friend or someone we love is universally frightening. The issue of death is often used in great storytelling because the uncertainly that comes with death is something we all fear to one degree or another. Am I proposing that you should use “death” or its related concepts in your next marketing/storytelling campaign? Not at all. Death is not the focus, but its corresponding need is where I would like to focus. One might say that life is the corresponding need when death is imminent, but that is not really the case. The universal need is for “security” and the thought of death exacerbates that need.

If you want to get at the heart of your prospective client, then you need to connect with this need for security. How are you able to provide a greater sense of security in this world of uncertainty and chaos? I will leave that hard work to you, but if you start with “why” in your marketing strategy, make sure that your "why" addresses our innate desire for security. Have you thought about your intense desire for security? Maybe not; it is that innate and a part of our survival instincts. Our desire for security causes us to act in ways that are often confusing to others and, oftentimes, to us as well when we look back. But when you ask the critical question of why (possibly 7 times) after reflecting on a recent behavior you exhibited, you will find the need for security there. (Or one of the other 4 human universal needs we will look at in future blogs.)

How does your product, service, or experience move people to a greater sense of security in their lives? You answer that and your offering will resonate with customers and you will have them for life. They might not be able to fully articulate it, but are we ever able to truly explain our love and devotion to certain brands? Not really. But after these five universals are revealed, you may be able to more clearly. How are you providing security today? (P.S. your family, your co-workers, your boss, your clients, your neighbors and even the face in the mirror is craving it.)

Scott Feather
Community Manager
View Scott's Profile
Follow Scott on Twitter @esfeather

More from our blog:

Taking Video Marketing to the Next Level

As new technologies develop, the possibilities for your company's video initiatives are endless. But popularity favors the ones who make a splash first. Our whitepaper will give you three simple tips for staying ahead of the curve.