I admit it – I’m a fan of The Voice and a few other mindless talent shows on television. Sometimes I find myself choked up, all because of the heart wrenching stories told about the lives of the contestants. Logically I know why they pick the most dramatic story lines — but emotionally, I’m hooked.
Turns out there is nothing like a good story.
A recent Forbes article titled The Power of Story explains, “. . .we are wired for interpersonal connections and put more stock in ideas that result from personal contact than from hard data. Essentially, we internalize stories much better than we do facts.”*
In marketing, when others say good things about your products and services the message has much more credibility and longevity than mere description. It takes work to procure real stories, but it’s worth it!
Always be Mining for Stories
Encourage friends, neighbors, family and staff members to share stories that reflect your organization or product in a good light. Remind them often, especially staff members. Follow up with unsolicited notes of thanks and social media posts to see if there is a lead and a willing storytelling participant.
Give People Something to Talk About
Create a community event that encourages storytelling. For one of our hospital clients, we created a community birthday party. We invited all 10,000 babies that had been born in the community over the past 60+ years to come and be recognized. Lots of photos were taken, both pre- and post-event, and the community conversation about how the town has changed was robust. It was a very positive image booster for the hospital and we shared photos in their community newsletter, social media outlets and print.
Another fantastic example is Heathrow Airport in London. They are using their 70th birthday to gather stories, encouraging anyone to share memories of time spent at the airport over those 70 years. If you get a chance, it’s a GREAT read.
These types of campaigns encourage people to connect to a brand and to reflect on the ways that brand has impacted and influence their lives. By invoking nostalgia and encouraging people to reflect on their own memories connected to that brand, the outcome is positive feelings towards that brand.
Photos are Key!
We are all drawn to photos — especially ones with faces in them. Professional or candid, make sure you have a photo to go along with the story. Like they say, a picture is worth 1,000 words.
Be Transparent about Your Intentions
Don’t overplay or underplay what your intentions are. If you have a story and a photo, be clear about the types of media you plan to use. Don’t tell the storyteller it will only be a print ad and then later they see themselves on a billboard. Keep the storyteller involved and make sure to give them the opportunity to approve materials. Then stick to your word, otherwise the positive engagement could turn into a negative one.
I hear all the time that people don’t read anymore, and while I think that’s true to a certain extent, I do believe that we still like to read, hear and listen to a good human story.
The Power of the Story, published on Forbes.com
Jackie O’Hara, Owner/Account Executive/Strategist
This summer, Jackie has enjoyed listening to friends tell stories around the campfire, working on home and yard remodeling projects, and sneaking in a few rounds of golf with her husband (the real storyteller of the family).