It’s the month for taking stock. For raising your glass, and taking your turn sharing what you’re thankful for. Around the Rottman table, we’re thankful for many things: good health, good business, a new grandchild even. But we’re also thankful for something else. We are thankful for you, because you are working toward something we admire: making people’s lives better. As you know, we believe associations host events to bring people together so that lives can be changed. We can’t imagine any other reason as compelling. So, thank you.
But that’s not the end of the Thanksgiving story. Not even close. In fact, we just need to take a quick detour back to the very beginning of human history. We know you’re tempted to beg off, what with the turkey coma and all. But you don’t want to do that, trust us. Because if you are really committed to the business of changing lives (and we believe you are), you’ll want to see what we have to show you. So grab another helping of sweet potatoes and come with us.
At the Beginning, There Were Stories
We may have overreached when we said the very beginning of human history. Let’s advance forward just a little bit, to the time when people started forming societies. When they had developed language and belief systems and had figured out that no matter who is in charge or how you get your food, some people like to be the hero, some people like to tell the jokes, some people are the poets, some people are the peacemakers, some people are prone to adventure, and so on.
Where we are, then, is the beginning of human emotion, and the realization that there is a set of stories that drives humanity. We’re standing front and center, watching the birth of the archetype, or the idea that there are universal human stories that get lived over and over again, regardless of time or circumstance.
Why are we taking you back to this moment? Because there is a direct line between here and what you are trying to do with your event. And if you truly understand how to follow that line, you can see a 15 percent increase in attendance at your event.
What do a bunch of old stories have to do with making people show up?
That’s a great question. The short answer is: everything.
We firmly believe that we are entering the Age of the Purposeful brand: where instead of squandering their attention, people save it for better stuff. Stuff they care about. Stuff that speaks to them, in colors, forms, sparks, emotions—and ultimately, the stories that call to them, bubbling up from some place in the collective unconscious.
It all sounds a bit mythical. So here is a dose of reality to ground it: in the Age of the Purposeful Brand, content for content’s sake won’t be good enough. Throwing darts wildly to see what sticks: that luxury is gone. There just isn’t enough attention anymore. You have to talk to people with much more purpose. For you, that means marketing all the tracks and precons and keynote speakers in the world won’t be good enough if you are not connecting to something fundamental. To the deep-rooted stories of who we are. This is what archetype-based branding is all about: connecting your brand to the archetypes it already evokes, teasing that out, and using it to create a distinct brand voice and brand look.
We laid this out back in March when we talked about the steps to creating a marketing plan: you need to understand brand archetypes so that you know how to talk to your people and what kind of images to show them. Because when an association puts forth the effort to discern their archetypes and uses those archetypes to develop a thoughtful, branded voice, they connect to their members in a new way. They connect because they have a much clearer picture of: (1) what visual and verbal stories will resonate with their members, and (2) how to tell those stories so that members recognize that the story is meant for them, in that precise moment, and that they should take action.
Let’s look at a few examples.
The Caregiver: Talk to us About Nurturing
The American Specialty Toy Retailers Association (ASTRA) has a bright, cheerful brand, matched by a bright, cheerful summer conference. They are in the toy business, and the toy business is about loving to see kids smile and nurturing play and learning. In fact, it’s a brand with a deep story about nurturing.
They are in business because they want to nurture. They nurture their love for what they do, and in turn, they nurture their own businesses—which is related to helping parents nurture their children. Using this Caregiver archetype, we were able to create a branded voice that spoke directly to ASTRA’s retail segment. We knew what kinds of stories to tell, what kind of tone to take, what kind of subject lines to write, what kind of graphics to create, and what kind of words to use. In telling the story of caregiver, we were telling the story of the conference in a way that resonated with members at a deeper level than merely logic. By doing this, we were able to help ASTRA get a 15 percent increase in enrollment for their event.
The Advocate: Stories about Effecting Change
For the American Network of Community Options and Resources (ANCOR), it was the classic story of difference-making, because we uncovered that their provider organization leaders fit the Advocate archetype. They are here because they want to make a piece of the world better. Their sense of purpose is linked to championing the rights of others and making life better for people. They want to effect change and help people use their voices for causes they believe matter.
It was big and inspirational: together, we’ll make life better. We’ll shape policy that makes a difference. We’ll give voice to people who need it. Again, understanding the archetype and the voice that needed to flow from it helped us shape their campaign and develop the right kinds of case studies to use in email communications and direct mail. And it helped ANCOR meet their numbers, even amidst funding slashes and members’ shrinking budgets for things like attending conferences.
The Patriarch: The Language of Protection and Duty
One last example is from work we are currently in the middle of, so we can’t give as many details. It’s an association from the world of commercial building and architecture, and the members are mostly owners of or management level within small companies that handle very specialized product distribution. In our many discovery conversations and research, we came to understand that their distributor base fits the Patriarch archetype. They are leaders who feel an inherited responsibility to protect others. They make others feel safe and inspire respect, and they understand that this is what makes them good at their job.
That being better at their job makes the whole industry better. It helps us strike the right balance in the voice, and understand what kind of emotions and ideas we need to tap into when we design and write the emails. From pictures to pull-quotes, archetypes help inform the look, feel, and tone of every piece of communication.
It’s There: Use It!
Obviously, teasing out the archetypes and creating the accompanying voice helps us—as the marketing firm charged with drumming up inspiration and increasing attendance. As we said in the beginning, we’ve seen a 15 percent increase in attendance for the associations who have worked with us to create marketing campaigns steeped in brand archetypes.
Ultimately though, it helps you and your association. A lot. Because you are working every day in the business of changing lives. We know that your job is getting harder. That’s why we offer this to you. Don’t you want to be able to better reach your people? To communicate with them in more meaningful ways? To convert more of them from mildly interested onlookers to fully engaged registrants? Don’t you want the secret access code to their collective unconscious?
Enjoy the holiday, and after you recover from your turkey hangover, give us a call. We’d love to help you figure out your archetype. It’s not doing any good just hanging around back there in the beginning of human history. It’s time to put it to work for you.
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