The Story Economy Blog

Let's Talk Transportation

transport smallerOn Monday, I turned 40.

It was a really good birthday, and in the week leading up to it, I thought about my new decade and what I wanted to make of it.

So, of course, I created a Pinterest board about it. (Creating a Pinterest board is one of the best ways I’ve discovered to make a thing a thing.)

The pin that stands out the most for me is the one here: “There’s always room for a story that can transport people to another place.”

It’s a JK Rowling quote. Clearly, she knows about the mechanics of transporting people.

I have something sort of specific in mind behind why this notion is so important for me in this next decade.

But the side effect is that it’s led me to reflect on the nature of transporting and feeling transported ‚Äì especially as it relates to selling. Which is what we’re all doing most of the time.

How The Marketer Transports

One way to look at stories that transport is that it’s about creating a world in which people can immerse themselves, with no regard for their own lives. Nothing about their reality needs to correspond to what they are reading or seeing. It’s a trip of pure imagination and it lights up the pleasure centers of the brain. This is what reading novels does for me, by and large. While I’m still bringing my perspective to it (Why is she doing that? What if she did this instead? No, don’t say that!), I’m not necessarily looking for myself in it. I might borrow some phrases and the story may make me feel a certain way that I carry around for a while, like silly or sad or sexy or smart. And it may influence my life (certain books definitely have). But it may not. A solid link to my life isn’t a prerequisite for enjoyment.

You as a marketer, on the other hand, have a slightly different challenge: the challenge of transporting people, while keeping them connected to their own lives enough that they can blend the story you’re telling with their own story. You want them to buy from you or join you, so you need them to see that they are part of the story you’re telling. That it’s really about them.

If writing novels is transporting purely for the pleasure of the journey, writing copy is transporting people to a better version of reality. It’s transporting with drips and drops of possibility. This could be you. Your story goes here.

We’ve heard from the great advertising brains that selling is about starting a conversation (or maybe that’s from Madmen: it’s hard to keep things straight when you are transported so well!). It IS about a conversation. But the conversation takes place within that transportation. If we all just stay in the here and now, we won’t be motivated to do much of anything.

As much as I love mindfulness and yoga and being present in the moment (I seriously do), I also love the idea of transportation. That we can travel with our brains. And yes, sometimes it’s only about seeing how great we’d look in that dress or suit. Yeah, it’s about cash and capitalism and getting your candidate on the ballot.

But isn’t that power to hook to possibility also amazing? Like, amazing?

As a marketer, you have that at your disposal. People’s desire to be transported. That’s pretty cool.

In some ways, your job is much harder than that of the novelist or filmmaker, because you can’t simply tell the story you want to tell. You have to tell the story they want to hear.

But still. There’s always room for a story that can transport people to another place.

Go transport.

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