After a few months of radio silence on my part, you might be asking yourself
“Wait, does Arush still exist?”
Let me assure you that I am not some apparition fabricated by the depths of your psyche but rather am a stressed and busy junior in high school. Between AP courses, UMTYMP, grinding my way through three Pokemon games, and familial obligations, I haven’t had time to review books. Though my increasingly hectic schedule has impeded my writing, it certainly hasn’t stopped me from reading. I’ve read quite a few books since my last post and while all of them were certainly literarily laudable, I’d like to briefly review a few that were particularly interesting. I’ll section them into three different posts. Make sure to give the others a quick read!
“Building Your Story Brand” by Donald Miller
I’m going to be honest here. I didn’t mean to read this book. My family and I were about to embark on a flight to India for a “vacation.” Before leaving, my Dad suggested that I bring a book along to entertain myself while squeezed between wailing one year olds and their equally dolorous parents. I was going to grab “Are you ready to succeed” by Srikumar Rao, a favorite author of my father’s. I went to grab the book but, due to my complete lack of hand eye coordination, missed by a few novels and instead shoved this one into my backpack. After a few hours of being slept on by my seat neighbors and mindlessly binge watching “The Regular Show” (Great show would recommend), I decided to pull my book out. Much to my surprise, instead of a practicable, mindset oriented book, I had brought a marketing book. Despite my initial skepticism of its practicality, I ended up reading it and wholeheartedly enjoying it.
The StoryBrand begins by isolating two specific mistakes that companies make when constructing marketing strategies:.. People don’t care about a product if a) It doesn’t help them “survive and thrive” and b) It’s too complicated to understand. To circumvent these common marketing pitfalls, Miller offers the use of his StoryBrand marketing outline, a strategy heavily influenced by the science of storytelling. Surprisingly, ancient storytellers, who regaled their audiences with tales of wise kings, vicious monsters, and unlikely heroes, have much to tell us about the nature of contemporary advertising. In the first few lines of the outline, he ruins movies for everyone by outlining the general structure that any film, no matter how avante-garde, coheres with. He then draws parallels between this structure and marketing. Paradoxically, an incredibly nuanced outline can be summarized in a few sentences. A hero (your customer) has a problem but meets a guide (your company) who gives them a plan, calls them to action, and helps them avoid failure. Is that all? Can I turn my ramshackle lemonade stand into an internationally successful corporation? Well, not just yet. What does it mean to call someone to action? Isn’t our company supposed to be the guide? In accordance with our storytelling theme, perhaps a brief story would elucidate the outline far more than mere description.
Our extraordinarily ordinary hero is just like you. They don’t need any extraneous characterization. Just imagine yourself. Now our hero has a problem: mosquitoes love his family ! Every time they venture out near the tenebrous swamp which borders their home, those vicious pests assault them in hordes, blemishing their skin with angry red bumps and afflicting them with a horrible itch. Our hero has tried an assortment of repellents, creams, and even a strange plant recommended to them by his colleague, but none would even come close to rectifying their problem. When all hope seems lost, and our hero is about to yield to the incessant onslaught of the mosquitoes, they meet a guide: The Mosquito Repellent Company. They offer a way to escape in the form of their patented mosquito repellent. But it isn’t just enough to present their solution and hope that our hero gravitates to it on their own accord. They need to give the hero a plan, i.e a way to access their branded Holy Grail of mosquito repellent. Then, they call the hero to action, compelling them to purchase the repellent to conquer the mosquitoes that previously tormented them. Our hero has avoided failure and can finally survive and thrive.
I strongly encourage you to give it a read or at least a quick skim. While this book was a great read, it, unfortunately, ruined “Detective Pikachu” for me. However, besides ruining Pokemon movies for children, it has applications that range from school presentations to high stakes sales pitches, making it a must read for anyone who needs to advertise something to someone at some point in their lives (so basically everyone).