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The reason for businesses to have a story is to build emotional connections with the target market: the audience. Having a story gives the audience reasons beyond price and availability to desire and purchase your product. The catch is, of course, that considering how quickly information flows today, you can’t just tell your story once. You need tell your story over and over again in a series of content, and continually reinforce that content with other kinds of content. But not all content is the same. 

Context is what drives your content, and therefore, context drives your story! People use context to tell stories that appeal to specific audiences all the time. One image or sound bite can be used to tell multiple stories. Just one look at the mass media and you can see many examples of this tactic; for instance, the image of soldiers giving water to a captive enemy soldier can tell two very different stories, depending on how you crop it.

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Stories are powerful tools that can make or break your business, and context is what drives how and what you say in order to tell that story. In a group of competing companies, the business that rises above and beyond the rest uses context and storytelling to make it the leading competitor in the market.

Stories are powerful tools that can make or break your business, and context is what drives how and what you say in order to tell that story.

Consider the energy drink market. Out of all the drinks in this market, Red Bull is likely the first one that comes to mind. But why? It’s because Red Bull built its context with the purpose of connecting with the “adventurer” consumer – a target audience that would eventually bleed to also include the wannabe adventurer. And the introduction of Red Bull into bars and clubs (consider the famed Jagerbomb) gave it NEW context, as the drink is now associated with nightlife. Meanwhile, Monster and other competitors struggle to find the right context to tell a story that connects with a sizable audience, especially one that isn’t already aware of or part of the “extreme adventure” context that Red Bull has already established, or that isn’t part of the bar and club scene. As a result, competitors are viewed as copy-cats and consistently compared to Red Bull.

Consider also the healthy, natural alternatives to energy drinks. Same market need, but a different story with different context. The target consumers for these products are health-conscious — likely not extreme, but they still struggle with sustaining energy to get through the day. Companies using this context focus heavily on the “special” ingredients in their products that provide energy, or on the “healthy alternative” narrative (as is the case with Verve). But consider this. There is still a THIRD audience out there who doesn’t want to be associated with adventure, and who doesn’t care about specific ingredients in the drinks. Enter 5 Hour Energy: a “healthier” alternative to Red Bull, just like its contextual competitors, but with a specific context to tell a different story. Fast, healthy, long-lasting energy. 5 Hour Energy focuses on this specific need, honing its story on the effects and uses of the product rather than the ingredients or lifestyle. The use of this context has given them a winning edge that’s taken over all the other “healthy” alternatives.

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Storytelling can help your business carve out its slice of the market. It reaches your audience by appealing to their specific mindset, needs, lifestyle, and yes, demographics. Having a unique story will set you apart from your competitors, and the more you tell it, the larger your audience will grow. Then, your audience will begin to tell it to each other, which will eventually grow your story into new markets. It all begins with the right context to create a story that speaks directly and explicitly to your audience in profound ways.

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