"In the insightful book Winning the Story Wars, Jonah Sachs makes a compelling observation that with the emergence of social media, humans are going back to our storytelling roots."
"The concept of “the survival of the fittest” is important for marketers today."
"During the oral tradition, if you told a compelling story, that’s the message that was shared. If your story sucked it didn’t live on."
"In the broadcast era, it was the battle of the richest. If you spent enough dollars, you could get your message out to the masses regardless of the quality."
"Anyone who has been involved in social media recognizes that we’re back to “survival of the fittest” era. The Twittersphere or Facebookers will decide whether it’s a compelling message." by Cameron Uganec
In part 2 Camron expands on how the "fittest survive" discussing how quality content which is story based gets shared. This is content built, posted and tracked by HootSuite.
He trickles in the idea of using more time and resources to build content and less resources on media placement. Pointing out a paid component is critical, but more on this in an upcoming post.
Make sure to watch the HootSuite video "Social Media is Sweet". Anything which has received over 185,000 views must connect in some way out there in social land.
There is also a Ted video with Jonah Sachs discussing the movement from the broadcast era to the digitorial era. Which is definetly worth watching if you are in sales and marketing.
As Jonah points out very clearly, there is a fine line between "broadcasting" and telling a compelling story which resonates with your tribe on social media.
Watching the video it reminds me, if you want a very simple test before you post something on line. Prior to posting, ask this question. Who is the hero in the story? If it is your company, not the customer, start over.
"It was not long ago that producing multimedia digital content required expensive equipment and deep levels of technical expertise. We are at the point now where anyone can create and publish very compelling content with nothing more complex than a web browser."
"The point is not that these are professional level production tools, but that the barrier of entry to content creation can be drastically low. And you should find a new mode of creativity when the tool have some limits as to what they can do-- and find that the core of the story is much more important than a widget." by Alan Levine
"I usually don't get a lot of hands but, how many of your mothers wanted you to be salespeople when you grew up?" asked Mike Bosworth. After a few seconds and a raised hand, he went into his story of when he was a child and talked about how he didn't want to go into sales.
"He has incorporated storytelling into selling products - with enviable results."
"People buy things because they are in control and want to satisfy a need." by Beth Pickerill
"Writing is a scary task for students because it is partly a single-minded activity that calls for a lot of serious thinking and partly due to the overarching focus that has being placed on teaching writing as product and not process."
"Donald Murray, a writing theorist of grand calbire, is unequivocal on this, in his Write to Learn , Murray emphasizes the importance of teaching writing as a process."
"Another way to get students engaged and motivated to write is through storytelling. Students are always excited to write about their own personal experiences and about stories that are part of their immediate environment."
"I was reminded of this during my visit last week to the January meeting of the Ohio State Council of SHRM. Although I was there as an invited guest speaker, I certainly feel like … Continue reading → (Three...
"Stories are the best vehicle for communicating your work, if only you can find them."
"Everyone loves a good story, so why do so many scientists shy away from story-telling when discussing their work? Part of the problem could be that we think of stories as fiction, and story-telling as the art of drawing people into a fictional reality."
"Not true. “The story is a vehicle for a message,” said Brian Lin, Senior Media Relations Specialist at the University of British Colombia, and communications strategist Andy Torr."
Here is an article to read which allows us to walk in another professions shoes.
Most everyone has read a research paper in science and walked away confused. Learning about how the boring research was completed. And to think, all we wanted to know, "What's the Point?".
Now go read a few white papers and/or case studies in your industry. (Not your own companies.) What do you think the industries customers are thinking as they read the same words?
There are times it makes sense to use a typical case study/white paper in the buy-sell cycle. Such as in the proof stage. However, the prospect-customer already has a vision of how to use your products-services. They want the details as proof.
My recommendation, rebuild your case studies/white papers into decent oral stories. Now your sales people have something to tell during the discovery phase of the buy-sell cycle. During the time all the customer really wants to know is "What's the Point?"
...the human brain has been on a slower evolutionary trajectory than the technology."
"Stories are authentic human experiences. Stories leap frog the technology and bring us to the core of experience, as any good storyteller (transmedia or otherwise) knows."
"There are several psychological reasons why stories are so powerful."
Pamela Rutledge, Ph.D.
Ken Jondahl's insight:
Based on how our brains are wired, our sales and marketing conversations need to be structured with the right stories to help the customer make sense out of how our products/services can help them achieve their needs.
Always remembering, the power of story is not to persuade, it is to help the customer develop a vision of a better future.
Read about the many ways stories help us connect with those we want to positively influence in the buy-sell cycle.
"We have all read articles on “consultative selling,” and at Fishbowl we have taken it one step further by removing the “selling” portion. - David K. Williams"
It is refreshing to read about a company who has taken a different path. Fishbowl has learned and appears to fully understand focusing on the buyer's journey leads to trust, which builds loyalty, and then leads to increased revenue.
Exactly how they build in story into their presentations is difficult to gleam from the article, yet reading between the lines, even their presentations are focused on the buyers complications and needs. Actully helping the buyer build their own story from beginning to end. Walking along side them to help solve their needs, they are not there to sell.
Perhaps they have a great product to sell, yet when somebody is hitting it out of the park on revenue growth, one has to stop and consider, what else have they changed in their sales method.
Read on for ideas around how Fishbowl has revamped their sales efforts to make sure the customer is the hero. I for one will be watching for future articles to bring to your attention.
It is interesting the above image has a caption, "Learning to create sales superheros..." Viewing from the outside, the Fishbowl sales team is focused on the buyers journey, it is not about the product, it is all about how to help the customer succeed. Thus the customer is really the hero in all of their stories.
Are you sitting comfortably? Then listen to PR leaders discussing the power of storytelling to build brands and energise businesses (Interesting read "@ThePRCoach: Good read: What is the role of #storytelling in #PR?
I love this post that reminds us all about the power of storytelling for businesses. Here Public Relations leaders share with us how stories are critical to use in business for branding and building a strong customer base.
Stories are everywhere, but the real trick is the following, says Tom Watson, professor of public relations at Bournemouth University: “For brand communicators, the challenge is to create narratives that are deserving of trust by their target markets and sustainable over time."
I also like what Kevin Murray, chairman of PR agency the Good Relations Group, says: “I use stories to entertain people at dinner parties to amuse. But in business you need to tell stories that make a difference.” Good point!
Go read what the PR professionals in the article have to say. There are great insights.
"The game has changed. We no longer live in a broadcast era where marketers can simply buy people’s attention with a TV campaign. There are different rules now and we need to earn the attention of our audience."
"From a marketer’s perspective, that means that we’re moving towards pull versus push approach, sometimes referred to as inbound marketing. We can no longer push our messages across, we need to pull customers in with engaging, useful content." by Cameron Uganec
I like how Cameron discusses it is not businesses connecting with consumers in B2C. It is people connecting with people.
In B2B, Mike Bosworth coined the phrase H2H. To survey and thrive in todays economy as a sales person. We need to make sure our approaches are Human to Human. Make a connection first and focus on the customers needs by using the power of story.
HootSuite has definetly adopted the power of story. Watch the short video which explains in a visual story how "Social Media Saves the Holidays".
Another great video on the page is the introduction of Apple back in 1984. And to think, many people believe traditional marketing never used story. Most of the best examples of tactics and strategies from the best in class companies start with story.
Content marketing is not about filling pages with boring stuff. Make it come alive by using the power of story. Especially in social media B2B marketing where people are looking for information which resonates with them, not you as the author.
"There’s a lot of buzz around the action of “storytelling.” It’s a trendy term.
"Some marketers hijack storytelling as the art nouveau of their work. I suppose that’s fine, but it still rings generic."
"Nurses, we live storytelling. Our work is storytelling. The intimacy in the care we provide is like a Bob Dylan song because storytelling doesn’t have to be the feel-good, inspire-the-world marketing scheme. It’s a lived life."
"Storytelling—good storytelling—encompasses the grit and the grime. It is the real, and yes, sometimes it is happy, but sometimes it’s about suffering and pain and a mixture of all those things."
2 - The importance of understanding people’s needs
"Listening and hearing are not the same thing. Most people are born with the ability to hear; but few of us are truly good listeners."
"Well-developed listening skills that include asking good questions, combined with striving to satisfy needs will create long-lasting, trusting relationships with team members, internal colleagues and client/customers." by Caroline Rowan
"I believe that there’s a big difference between treating your content as a marketing asset and treating it like a product. In the future more and more marketers will focus on creating content as brands themselves."
"Brands that increase demand for the products they sell. Here’s a quick anecdote:"
"Selling powdered milk… Defiance, a powdered milk company, was having a really hard time penetrating a crowded market against 300 other brands."
"They’d tried advertising, but it didn’t seem to sell more dried milk. The advertisements did spark thousands of consumer inquiries on how to take care of a newborn baby."
"Instead of ignoring those inquiries, the CEO Joe Nathan hired..."
From an interview with Andrew Davis @tpldrew, the Author of Brandscaping
Included in the article is a great "founding story" about Joe Nathan's company. As I read the story, the "why" as defined by Simon Sinek comes out for me. I'm curious what you think the why is behind responding to 1000's of customer inquries? Even when the questions had very little to do with the product being sold.
How would I use this founding story if I was in sales or marketing? Using the "why" of the story, I would leverage "how" they do things today to make the "what" which is all around us.
Also make sure, as you are telling a company story, your story fits in someplace at some time. Your "why" and the company "why" need to be in sync, or your customers may question your integrity. Lip service only goes so far.
Watching successful sales and marketing individuals over the years. Those who pull out in front always believe in themselves, the company and the products they offer. Their customers are also some of the happiest I have seen.
As you read the interview with Andrew, it is clear he believes in what he says. Quality over quantity is important. And any time we create content, it is to help our customers envision a better way to do things.
"You cannot avoid sending nonverbal messages; however, it is possible to train yourself to send the right ones. Here are ten nonverbal cues that convey confidence and credibility in the workplace."
"...when a person sends a mismatched message–where nonverbal and verbal messages are incongruent—recipients almost always believe the predominant nonverbal message over the verbal one. “In other words, how we say something is more impactful than what we say,” she explains. " by Jacquelyn Smith
The article is focused on helping to build confidence at work. However, any time we are actively listening to another person, we demonstrate many of the same non-verbal clues.
Such as good eye contact, effective gestures, how we stand/sit, facial expressions, using appropriate voice tone, responding to the other persons emotions, and providing our full attention. This is 7 out of the 10 Jacquelyn discusses.
In Story Selling, the whole purpose of sharing a relevant story with a prospect/customer is to receive their story. This is where our skills in active listening need to take over. Many of which are non-verbal.
One could say the art of story tending is 90% non-verbal and only 10% around the types of questions we may need to ask. All of which are seeking to understand, not to position our product/service around a need while we are tending their story.
As with all non-verbal clues, the customer will know if you are there to help them, or your self.
I like how Nick reminds us not every customer is the same and it is dangerous to "assume" the customer is "just like me". He provides a clear example of what not to do and also how to improve the opening of a sales piece.
My advice is to build on where Nick leaves off and complete the story. Open with the setting of a live person who is facing the situation Nick describes.
Move on to the complications life tosses at the individual in the story which in Nicks case could be the 3 ways to solve the problem. Or complications which lead to examing the 3 ways to solve the problem.
As the story unfolds, the person in the story, who by the way is the "hero", (not the product or service), examines the 3 ways to solve their complications. Finding good and bad in each solution.
The climax is when one of the potential solutions is found to work the best for the hero in a round about "ah hay" moment. We've all had these, so make them real.
Wrap up with the resolution and the hero heading off down a better road in life.
"How we help" in a visual story is much better then discussing features and benefits. Visual refering to the style of writing and of course use images.
Think about Nick's approach which is dead end. The end game in sales is "not" to hook the customer. It is to get them to jump in the boat with all of their friends. B2B sales is a H2H, (Human to Human) when the power of story selling is applied across sales and marketing.
Remember as you build personas, provide them with a title and/or function which you want to positively influence based on "how" your products/services will help them achieve their needs.
As with most B2B buying committees, you will likely need more than one title represented.
My recommendation, start with the typical titles in your B2B buy-sell cycles and work backwards. One of the most important aspects of personas is to have the correct needs by assoicated titles mapped out before spending too much time on the details. This would be a top down approach to creating personas by a product and/or service line you promote/sell.
"From annoying pop-up ads to often completely irrelevant video pre-rolls, the clutter is causing consumers’ “BS meters,” as digital rock star Gary Vaynerchuk has called them, to become more sensitive and accurate than ever before."
"So while the speed of technology is increasing, it’s interesting to note that one of the hottest trends in online marketing might just be the age-old art of story-telling."
"What does this mean? To cut through the clutter, businesses need to stop annoying, and start telling stories." - Lisa Ostrikoff
Ken Jondahl's insight:
The article focuses mostly on the visual marketing via web/ads/etc and is dead on in the conclusions. However, think about your sales people.
Are they really prepared to go out and have conversations with customers which include great stories around your company, the people and how you help customers?
If not, the next time an annoying pop up ad hits you in the face. Think about how your customers feel when your sales person visits and goes on and on about the product features and benefits.
It is not about it, it is all about how it is used. In sales we need to get to the point and tell a great story around the product usage.
"Stories do not exist in media, they are created and experienced in the mind."
"...transmedia storytelling is a fundamental approach to communications—internal and external—that all organizations should adopt. The drivers of the success do not rest on the economics, but on the quality and integrity of the story."
"While many scholars and practitioners approach transmedia storytelling with game studies or fan culture roots, the true power of transmedia storytelling rests on the story, not the articulated media elaborations."
"A story is created and experienced, first and foremost, in the mind."
Pamela Rutledge, Ph.D.
Ken Jondahl's insight:
An issue we have in sales, "It is no longer about how we sell, it is all about how the buyer buys." If a buyer comes to any of your social media sites, what story do they see?
After reading the above, consider some of the B2B social sites you've visited over the last few years. Do any stand out in your mind? If you are in sales, do any even look like they might help you in your job?
Can one turn moving dirt into a story? For ideas, check out Caterpillar, click on the time line and view how they are unfolding their story via Facebook as one example. https://www.facebook.com/#!/caterpillar
When was the last time you purchased something from somebody you did not trust?
Most of us will say very seldom, if at all.
Just walking into a situation where we sense trust is low the hair on the back of our neck stands up.
Mike Bosworth learned during the first 30 years he had not been helping sales people develop and build a connection with their prospects and customers, which leads to trust over time.
The good news, this has now changed.
Join the LinkedIn Group and/or just follow along if you find the topic of building trust being important for your sales and marketing teams. The group is focused on improving the ability of people to develop better connections with their prospects and customers in this day and age.
"Chief Life Officer" "Congratulations: You've been promoted" was the headline in a campaign by Lincoln Financial Services aimed at key markets they worked in.
The "Point" of their marketing message was created by empathetically listening to customer's input. While many Financial Services Company have contracted over the last few years, Lincoln has been gaining ground.
Note also the hero of the lead headline is not Lincoln, it is their customers. Our marketing messages in Story Selling need to recognize the hero is our customer, never us.