Mike Roper's a sucker for a good story. One afternoon, while sampling beers at his Uptown bar Hopleaf, he relayed how archaeologists in Turkey unearthed pottery buried for thousands of years,...
Karen Dietz's insight:
Wow -- what a great use of stories at Hopleaf bar in Chicago! This is one business who's doing storytelling right.
Here in San Diego, CA we have a hot hot hot micro-brew industry winning all kinds of awards. Now they just need to follow Hopleaf's lead and connect their stories to their beers to boost sales even more.
Hmmm...sounds like I need to take a wander down to my local pub Hamilton's (100 different brews available and counting) for a draft and to whisper in their ear :)
For your business, how can you do the same as Hopleaf?
It’s not uncommon for designers to confuse a beautiful looking product with one that works beautifully. A great technique for creating smarter, better products is to approach them using story-centered design.
Karen Dietz's insight:
What a great post that everyone can use to help them design their product or service better -- starting out with the customer experience.
How do you get at the customer's experience? Well, by talking with customer first. Then by using storytelling and story techniques to design your product or service based on how people interact with it.
Not sure how to get started? Then this article by Braden Kowitz will help. He makes some great tips you can start playing with. The article is not a step-by-step how-to though, which is unfortunate. But it will allow you to begin the process and make some discoveries as you go along.
Many thanks to fellow curators Giuseppe Mauriello and Baiba Svenca for both suggesting this article to me!
"When launching a new product, it is important that customers understand what problems your product is solving. You don’t have time to tell a long story so you need to make sure your message is effective in creating a desire to learn more. This is where context can help. If you are trying to tell a story about your product, context is the background information that helps the scene make sense. Without this context, you leave it up to the customer to figure it out on their own."
Karen Dietz's insight:
Truer words couldn't be said! The author has great advice for how to create context around a product that allows the business to share its product story more effectively.
And I love that the author, Joshua Duncan uses the latest Microsoft commercial to make his point. I enjoy watching the commercial. But I agree with Joshua -- as a sales piece it doesn't work. And it is certainly not a story.
As you read what Joshua has written, don't forget to click through to his earlier post on how context does work to make a sale. The example he uses is Box.com. You can see context is provided. But I still think Box.com could do better in sharing its story.
Read both and let me know what you think! Do the examples work? Does Box.com really tell it's story? Love to hear your thoughts :)
To really know customers you must engage them face-to-face.
This is a handly little article reminding us all that data and "likes" can only take us so far. If we really want to know our customers to help guide for innovation, marketing, business relationships, and ultimately business growth, then face-to-face interactions are imperative.
OK -- now we've gotten that message, and we are in front of a customer, now what? How do you maximize your time together?
The practical answer is to ask for, and listen to, their stories! That is what this article does not say. Yet that is your path to success.
What stories do you ask for? Ask them to share with you their experiences of your product/service, your company, your marketing/branding, or whatever burning question you need an answer to.
Just remember, most people ask information questions where they get lots of description but little story. That's not so helpful. They will ask someone to describe what they like about their product. In return they will gets answers like, "I like the blue color, and how it fits in my hand." interesting, but not so helpful.
Ask for EXPIENCES instead:"Tell me about the first time you used our product and what that was like ..."In return, you will receive a story rich in material and meaning:"One day I was really struggling one day to open a jar. For some reason my arthritis was really bad that morning and I couldn't get the strength to open that jar. I didn't want to ask my daughter for help because i hate feeling dependent on someone just to open a jar! A friend had given me your handy opener as a gift but I hadn't even taken it out of its packaging yet. That morning I grabbed it but had a devil of a time getting it out of its plastic wrapping! I finally took a scissors to it, which means I probably have blunt scissors now [HINT for changing packaging]. But I finally got it opened and used it on that jar I was struggling with. Voila! It was so easy! I had that jar open in a jiffy. Your design made it very easy in my hands. I checked out your website to see if it came in other colors so I could give it as a gift to friends. Was kind of disappointed in the color selection but I'll make do. I'm sure they will appreciate its ease and cool design like I do."
You get the picture -- haven't customers share experiences is much more valuable. From the little story above you can now dig deeper into the story, or keep asking for later experiences.
Enjoy this process. Take your time -- no need to schedule 20 interviews to aquire tons of material. A handful will do to get you started. Remember you are going for quality, not quantity. You will learn as you go and interviews down the line will be richer and more complex because you will have gotten better at evoking stories from your customers.
I would love to hear about your experiences doing this activity!
I was on my way to play golf this past weekend when I drove by a young girl selling lemonade on the sidewalk in front of her house.
On the surface this quick article with 2 videos to share looks like it is the same old story -- storytelling is essential for successful marketing, sales, and business growth.
But there are 2 key -- yet subtle -- messages buried in the videos.
In the video with Seth Godin, he makes the point that not only do you have to have a good story, but you also have to create a product/service that combines both a need people are already hungry for and that also captures their imagination.Stories are your gateway because if you design your product/service and your business around the stories you want people to share about you, you will have a leg-up on your competition. This is quite a notion and different to how we typically do business today.
In the second video, the Danish author Rolf Jensen shares with us a story that makes his point: people buy the story, not the product/service. And that storytelling is the future of business development.
The article is short, as are the videos. But the insights are golden and will last a lifetime!
Vimeo's Karoline K. explains how stories are integral to understanding your customers so you can design effective solutions (products/services) for them. This is a great video!
Rule #1 in business: people are searching for solutions and it is your job to find out what they are searching for and fill that need. NOT decide what they need and try to convince them to buy it. Well, OK -- you could do it that way but it's a struggle.
Surveys and focus groups will only get you so far. Interviewing your customers/prospects and evoking stories from them will gain you rich rich material that will guide your product development/service delivery. You will gain not only material about how to design your product, but how to connect with your prospects in marketing and advertising efforts.
Stop using focus groups -- create story gathering sessions with your prospects. Don't ask for descriptions, information, or opinions. Ask them to tell you about a time when...in order to evoke an authentic story. You will be amazed at the results.
Images sell. But besides the traditional white-background product image shot from three different angles, which product image categories can you include in your product gallery?
Online, we are moving more and more to relying on visual images to help tell our business stories.
And if you are selling one or more products, creating a story of that product that is paired with visualimages is critical.
So how do you start choosing those imagesto pair with your story? This article has good answers!
There are 7 image categories to choose from. The ones that are most directly related to visual storytelling are Lifestyle images, Customer images, Textural images, Inspiration images, and Animate images.
The post contains terrific examples & explanations of each category so you will get lots of ideas.
This is how you sell products now. This film probably cost a tiny fraction of what a standard TV commercial costs, but it’s about 10,000 times more effective. Why? The story, stupid. It’s real, it’s unique, it’s true--and it’s creatively designed with a human touch. "Product placement" always feels irritating because the product being placed is somehow supposed to fly under our radar, but never does. This is the total opposite: The story unapologetically features the product, but it’s in such an organic way--making adorable little projects like Red Blooded's love-letter pop-up book is exactly what someone in the real world would actually do with a Field Notes notebook--that not only do we not object, we feel genuinely moved and inspired by it.
Hear hear! Right on the heals of the blog post I recently posted here on storytelling in Super Bowl ads is this article from Gregg Morris' Story and Narrative collection about ads/marketing and being real.
Just because Coca-Cola spends millions on crafting storied ads does not mean you are left out in the cold. Use low budget techniques and tools, be yourself, and share your story. Just make sure it is crafted and told well.
How Big Brands Are Using Supply Chain Storytelling -- MainStreet Patagonia was one of the first companies to incorporate life-cycle storytelling into its brand narrative.
Karen Dietz's insight:
Now here is a new kind of story cycle to consider -- the stories of your product's/service's entire life cycle from beginning to end! This set of stories is also being called 'supply chain' stories.
And in the case of many of the examples shown here, the end is actually all about recycling, which then generates a whole new set of stories.
Wow -- life cycle stories will keep you busy for awhile and provide a never ending source of stories for your business.
I really like the examples shared in this post, along with the additional points the author points to like lessons Levi Strauss learned as it collecting these kinds of stories and what they did about the knowledge they gained, which created even more stories for them.
I love it. So expand your thinking beyond "Here's a story about how we make our product" or "Here's a story about how we crafted our process" to "Here are the stories along the entire life-cycle of our product/service."
You will continue to keep customers engaged, and learn critical knowledge in the process.
I'm still waiting for the company who will crack the code of storytelling — just like Vladimir Propp did for fairy tales — and get it right every time, with every product launch. (Image credits: Mario Lapid, Wikimedia Commons) ...
LOL -- this article heated up the Twittersphere last night, and with good cause. It's message is simple and clear: if you want lots of sales when you introduce a new product or service, you must tell a story!
For most of us, we've already figured that out. What I like about this article is that the author, Romain Dillet shares his experiences of new technology product launches from Apple, Samsung & Microsoft at recent conferences.
His conclusion?Apple definitely fell of the wagon and did not proivde a story. Microsoft definitely did not tell a story -- both of these companies defaulted to promoting product features. Boring -- as the author says!! He points out that being able to hold the new iPad in one hand is a 'use case' (how someone would use the product) and not a story.
Samsung got closer. The author included a link to a Samsung commercial that was a story -- about the phones features, LOL -- I watched it and it sounds like an interesting 'use case' to me! The Samsung commercial is a fun poke at Apple, but the story line is all about the bigger screen and weight. That .is OK but it doesn't get the story job done.
OK -- so where does that leave us?
To avoid defaulting to product features or use cases, for starters make sure your storyhas a problem and resolution. A challenge to overcome. Something meaningful to happen.
So who does tell great product stories? Nike and Lego come to mind. If I had more coffee this morning I'm sure I'd think of others.
In addition, the author cites someone near and dear to my heart -- Vladimir Propp from the Russian School of Folklore who published The Morphology of the Folktale in the 1920s. Propp was the first to diagram the common structure of fairy tales which Joseph Campbell,Chris Voglerand others have used ever since. Anyone who cites Propp in an article gets a gold star from me!
Overall, even though the examples Dillet gives don't quite hold up 100%, there are still lots of good insights here that make this worth reading.
And yes, every successful product lauch does need a good story!
Do you have a good example to product launch + story to share?
In 2009, the duo embarked upon a curious experiment: They would purchase cheap trinkets, ask some of today’s most exciting creative writers to invent stories about them, then post the stories and the objects on eBay to see whether the invented story enhanced the value of the object. Which it did:
What a great research project and article on the power of storytelling to increase profits! Here Rob Walker and Joshua Glenn demonstrate that when you can attach a compelling story to a product, its monetary value increases.
That is good news for anyone using stories to sell products. I think it will work the same for selling services, too.
Anyway, go read the story of this research and the results they experienced. I bet you'll get ideas for some stories you want to create for your products/services.
Do you know why you make the products or offer the services you do? Too often I find that companies don't have a clear enough sense of why they do what they do.
Oh, this is so true! Let me explain first why I like this article. Then I'll explain how it fits into business storytelling.
I like this article because once again, we are being reminded that people buy the WHY not the 'what.'
The author does an excellent job in explaining how understanding the 'why' is extremely important in innovation -- and every business no matter how small or big, needs to be constantly scanning for the next incremental or major innovation to bring to its customers and the marketplace.
The best idea in this article comes from the notion of 'core insights' that are complementary (and essential) to 'core competence'.
Now here's the link to biz storytelling. Once you understand about 'core insights' by reading this article, your next question will be -- "So how do I get those core insights?!"
Voila -- through listening to your customer's stories in story gathering sessions. And through listening to your staff's stories that they share about the products/services you offer and their stories about customers.
This article doesn't make that link, but I hope that the concept of 'core insights' coupled with the technique of story listening/gathering will bring you plenty of material to keep you competitive!
A product is more than an idea, it's more than a website, and it's more than a transaction or list of functionalities. A product should provide an experience or service that adds value to someone's life through fulfilling a need or satisfying a desire. The ultimate question then becomes: who identifies that value? Maybe it isn't the product manager, marketer, technologist, or designer; perhaps what we need is a new role: the product storyteller.
Are you a product storyteller? Whether you are an entrepreneur, small biz owner, or in marketing/branding, I think you should be!
This is a thoughtful discussion about product creation and the role of the storyteller in the entire development process. I like how the author identifies story work in all phases of the product cycle. She makes great points that will help us all connect better with consumers.
But as the author says, "The challenge today is that we face a shortage of storytellers because our current organizational structures and cultures are not optimized for the activities involved in storytelling."
It also sounds like in the future there should actually be a position called "Product Storyteller!" I hope that the powers-that-be are listening.
The concept of story v. narrative (discussed by John Hagel at the Business Innovation Factory summit #BIF7) can be applied to product innovation: some products are like stories and some are like narratives.
This article is great because it gets us thinking in new ways about our products/services and whether they are more like a close-ended story, or an open-ended story. Figuring this out really helps us craft and tell our business stories better.
There is an example or two to help us, along with terrific queries near the end of the article that help us answer the open/close-ended question.
The language by John Hagel that is used in the article -- story (close-ended) versus narrative (open-ended) -- I don't find useful and think it just muddies the water. But the rest of the content is so great, I ignore it.
Go figure out what kind of product/service you have so you can tell your stories better.
Many thanks to Anneliza Humlen @ADHumlen for originally sharing this post!
The story of AHAlife proves how storytelling can transform a business.
What a great article! Business owner Shauna shares the specific stories she uses about her products to grow her business.
Her advice and story types can be used by any business owner, whether you are selling products or a service. And any artist selling their artworks in any venue should be following the tips in this article to the letter. I use the same basic list with my clients and it works.
However, the examples she uses in the article are NOT stories -- they are descriptions. So obviously she needs some storytelling training to be even more effective. On the other hand, even the descriptions as pseudo-stories are working for her. My advice for you: go for actually telling stories, not descriptions -- you'll get even better results. I do like her list however, so use that as a guide for figuring out which stories to tell.
Tell these kinds of stories in your business and you will experience the difference. Story on!