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The Marie Kondo Effect – How Stories Get People to Take Action

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What sparks joy in your life?

Keep that. Get rid of the rest.

That’s how we’d summarize the overlying message from Marie Kondo’s new Netflix show Tidying Up with Marie Kondo. Since its release a few weeks ago, it’s turned into a complete sensation.

Viewers are applying the KonMari method to everything from their homes to their computers. Donation and garbage bins are filling up and people are taking action on a dramatic level…all due to the magic of storytelling.

Who’s Marie Kondo?

In a word, Marie Kondo is all about tidying. She’s a Japanese author and famed organizing consultant who’s written four books, including an international best-seller called The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up.

Kondo uses a technique referred to as the KonMari method. This is where you break clutter into categories including:

  1. Clothing
  2. Documents
  3. Books
  4. Komono (misc. items)
  5. Sentimental items

Then, you go through each pile one at a time to decide what sparks joy and what doesn’t. Things that spark joy are kept and stored in well-organized bins and those that don’t are let go.

Her Netflix show, Tidying Up with Marie Kondo, was released on January 1, 2019 and has since gained an immense audience and loyal following.

From Cluttered to Organized: How Marie Kondo Got Thousands of People to Take Action

Americans are, in general, obsessed with consumerism. We love the process of shopping and buying new things and don’t necessarily love getting rid of anything.

Many American households are just full of stuff. Baby Boomers, scarred by the Great Depression, learned to hold on to what they have because that’s the only thing that’s guaranteed. They passed this notion to much of Generation X, who are now struggling with holding onto family antiques as well as their own family memories.

FREE RESOURCE: DISCOVER YOUR BRAND STORY WORKSHEET

Millennials, on the other hand, don’t want this stuff. So, the minimalist movement gained traction. But it was really only early adopters who took it on; it never reached the mainstream.

At least, not until Marie Kondo came around. With her positive and encouraging attitude, she helps people believe it’s possible to live tidier, less stressful lives. And she did it by making it accessible and desirable through a form of content Americans already love: home & garden shows.

Marie Kondo takes our obsession with living the American dream and combines it with a step-by-step guide to attaining it with what we already have.

I remember when I lived at my mom’s house for a couple of months in between living in England and Seattle. My mom, my sister, and I would waste entire afternoons binge-watching HGTV. We loved it. We’d get involved in the stories; which house would they choose? Will they love it or list it?

Marie Kondo’s show takes this imagination to the next level. It takes our obsession with living the American dream (a nice, “Instagrammable” home) and combines it with a step-by-step guide to attaining it with what we already have.

And it’s working.

Just a month after the Netflix show released, donations are piling up and personal testimonials are everywhere you look. It’s so successful that “does this spark joy” memes have all but taken over the internet.

How to Apply the Marie Kondo Effect to Your Content Strategy

The show works because it takes a single, simple idea (tidying) and weaves stories from multiple angles to establish empathy with audiences allowing them to see themselves in the characters.

From young parents of two rowdy children to an older couple of empty nesters, audiences can see themselves portrayed on-screen and follow along their journeys as if it were themselves.

They watch as a mountain of clothing that reaches the ceiling can turn into neatly hung and folded options tailored down to what sparks the most joy. Then, they look at their own pile of clothes, and say, “I can do that too.”

As you create your own content strategy, find your own sweet spot. This is one topic you can truly master and become the expert in. For Marie Kondo, it’s tidying. For Brené Brown, it’s vulnerability.

Once you have your topic, make it as accessible as possible for your customers. They need to see it’s possible for them to realize that success, too. Establish empathy and show them the transition (i.e. messy home with extra objects taking over your life to clean, tidy, and stress-free) from start to finish.

Then, make it an entertaining and truly engaging piece of content your audience is willing to consume. People ended up binge-watching the Netflix show because it was in the form they found most interesting. If it were a series of blog posts, it likely wouldn’t have done as great.

When all is said in done, your customers are human beings and they’re coming to you because they have a problem. It’s your job to help them find a solution to that problem by telling a story they can relate to and truly become a part of. Once you’ve done that, it will be so easy to get them to take action you’ll barely even have to ask.


If you’re not sure how you can take the Marie Kondo effect and use it in your own content strategy, let’s talk. We specialize in helping brands like yours discover and create content that tells a story their customers can imagine themselves in.

Schedule your free consultation today and start creating deeper connections with your customers to grow your business.

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