Where Are the Storytellers?
– Give your Customers Something to Believe –
At their very core, successful businesses are effective storytellers.
The best marketing programs take us on an emotional journey appealing to our wants, needs and passions for something larger, deeper, more personal and connected. Grabbing your attention from the start, they pull us in and take us on an adventure with characters and situations you can believe in and associate with. These experiences contain elements of humor, drama, spectacle, action or mystery as catalysts to spark attention and interest.
Facts and figures, functionality, specifications, service offerings and price all still matter, for certain. But it takes good stories and experiences to connect with customers on an emotional level. And particularly good storytelling often drives the motivation to choose one brand, one solution provider, over another.
Add a Little Humor to Your Life
When it comes to instilling humor into a branding or sales campaign, to make even the driest technical offerings more engagable, no one does it better than Tim Washer. IBM and Cisco have both turned to Washer, a professional comedian and storyteller, to humanize their complex product lines and services.
From the infamous Mainframe: The Art of the Sale video series he produced for IBM and The Perfect Gift for Valentine’s Day work developed for CISCO, Tim infuses a sense of fun, absurdity and relatability to his storytelling and brand building. You’re not sure if you’re watching an episode of the Office or a video short from Saturday Night Live. Either way, these choice examples of content are prime for water cooler conversations, driving further engagement with the brand and leaving a lasting impression. What no one should laugh at is the business value derived from such creative content. To Tim and IBM’s credit, they’ve measured the impact of these humorous Office-like produced videos (and they liked what they saw.)
Celebration of Your Customer
Many companies showcase customer case studies, capture and share testimonials, host user events and give out recognition awards, but few take the time to actually celebrate customers. It’s really more about celebrating themselves in most cases. But celebrating customers can be incredibly powerful.
One of the best examples of celebrating the spirit of the Customer is Sony’s “Michael” Ad they released on YouTube last fall. It’s an amazing tribute to the millions of avid gamers that have made Sony’s PlayStation system a successful market leader. I don’t want to give a detailed description of the video for I highly encourage you to watch it and let the storytelling unfold. Suffice to say, the real heroes of the video are not the iconic and beloved gaming characters.This piece is a good reminder when you’re building your story and creating content – ask if you are celebrating your own creation or recognizing the passion, support and commitment of your customers.
Does your Story Have Heart?
Google’s recent slew of Chrome videos brought moving, heart-felt elements to their storytelling. There is an emotional connection to the content and story – be it a Dad sharing moments and observations for his newly born daughter to read in the future to an open apology by a new couple fueled by photos, videos, place notations, recapturing special moments in their relationship.
Who would have thought a promotional video for a new web browser would pull at our heartstrings and generate millions of views? Google did, because they knew it wasn’t about them – it’s about the customer’s story – our story. It’s not about the technology, it’s about the people and experiences.
When Google was looking for a way to showcase the value of their data analytics with Google Insights, they could have shared samples of images like this.
Or they could have developed a compelling story of Google Insights in Action, tracking a trend, calling out key highlights that drove a phenomenon and showcase the entire arsenal of Google related services: video, photos, translation, geo-trends, community and search. Google chose the latter, creating this inspiring piece tracking the Lady Gaga phenomenon.
To be a successful brand storyteller, you must first understand how your brand’s services and offerings meet a customer’s emotional needs. Even business-to-business products and services fulfill emotional needs: I will get promoted. I won’t get fired. I will be a hero if this works.
Next, try to understand not only where your customer will be exposed to your message, but also what their emotional state will be when engaged with that media.
Every brand has a story. Tell it well, and you’ll give your customers a reason to believe.