Though the end result of marketing can often be summarized in a graph or spreadsheet containing statistics depicting sales and profit margins, the way by which these numbers are gathered is actually an incredible creative process that involves connecting with people in the same way that writers, entertainers, and public figures do. As Mike Walsh writes in an article in the Wall Street Journal, marketing is essentially another form of storytelling. It is only as effective as the emotional impact it has on its audience.

In Walsh’s article “What’s Your Story? A Marketing Must-Have,” he writes about distinct instances in which someone selling a product managed to create such a unique and memorable experience for him during a pitch that he felt compelled to invest in it. When a waiter at a restaurant offered the special of the day, a salad with locally sourced ingredients, rather than simply read off the ingredients in the salad, he described each component of the salad in terms of its unique connection to the town. He went into detail about the family with the generations-old cheese business across the bay and the hidden old farm between the hills that grew the tomatoes. In telling the story of the salad’s connection to the town with such conviction in its meaningfulness, the waiter was able to make the customers feel as though they were joining a special community by ordering the dish.

While Walsh does state that the salad was delicious, the primary reason why this incident is so memorable is because of the emotional response the waiter incited within him by painting such vibrant imagery of the idyllic town. Because the salad also had the quality to match his expectations, the two components – the pitch and the product – worked together to create an unforgettable package of leafy greens.

It might seem frivolous to claim that every product or service should model themselves on the sale of this $18 salad, but this same concept is mirrored in every successful example of marketing. For example, Obama’s 2008 campaign garnered overwhelming support from Millennials who felt personally excited about the prospect of something new in the country. Rather than rattle off a list of promises and goals, his campaign told a vivid story of hope for change and reform. Considering that this was at a time of economic hardship for the younger generations in particular, this notion incited a strong emotional response in the American people that voted Obama into office.

When marketing anything, then, whether it’s a product, service, artist, or politician, the chief focus should not be simply on how to grab an audience’s attention. It should be on how to craft and deliver a compelling story appealing to an audience’s emotions so they would be willing to invest in something.

Constance Kaita, MSD Intern