ONE NIGHT, MY friend Paul and I were in the cinema when we saw an ad that made us stop: it stressed the importance of family and growing up and it touched us both.
I remember turning to Paul and saying, “Tesco, man. Did you take that in? Do you feel emotional? Feels good, doesn’t it?”
Because that’s the way it is: nobody cares about bananas in aisle six, but everyone loves a good story and the emotions connected with it. And if a supermarket can sell bananas by telling a story, you can make your story work for you.
In 2006, I bought the Irish Media Directory and turned it into MediaHQ.com, which is one of the biggest media intelligence companies in the country.
About 10 years after buying the original directory, I had an epiphany.
The currency I have always dealt in is stories. Stories are what make people engage, involve them emotionally and create attention. So I founded All Good Tales, a communications agency that puts stories at the heart of everything it does.
If you are any way involved in marketing, you are what I call the ‘CIO’, or chief interesting officer. Your most important objective is to make what you have to say interesting – it’s your ultimate goal because stories are the driver, the engine of good marketing.
There are five steps you need to take to put stories at the heart of your brand and to generate more sales, more donations and more media coverage.
So how do you, as a brand, tell your story successfully?
First of all, you need to commit to an identity. What do you stand for? What do you want your audience to think of when they see your advertisements?
Identity is like a multiple-tier cake, you build it layer by layer until you have the finished product that is your identity, your values, what you stand for.
Creating a positive brand experience is what you should be aiming for and you should live and breathe that identity you have created for yourself with every step you take.
Find your ‘magic slice’
Secondly, you need to find out what your ‘magic slice’ is.
The concept is simple: you have something that you want to tell your audience and your audience has something they want to hear. So what you do is you find out where both your interests align and intersect.
Finding that intersection and telling stories that perfectly fit your ‘magic slice’ will allow you to generate the sales and the media coverage you’re aiming for.
If people react to your idea by saying, “This is something new to me”, “This articulates something I have been thinking about forever” or “This is something I have never even thought of”, you have been successful. You have both hit the magic slice and created something insanely relevant to them.
Build a brand newsroom
Thirdly, you have to create a brand newsroom. We have all seen websites with three different blogs, a separate news section and some out-of-date press releases. That is not the way to go.
By creating a brand newsroom, you can combine it all into one place and create something bigger that serves your ultimate goal of spreading your story.
Maintaining that thread that runs through everything you create is crucial. Fragmented news is boring – nobody will click into your blog, but tell a story and they will.
Ditch digital sometimes
Digitalisation has profoundly changed the way marketing works, but focussing solely on the digital aspect isn’t necessarily the right thing to do.
A few years ago, I found a Royal Military Academy Sandhurst notebook in a shop in Brighton and it inspired me to create the Storyteller’s Manifesto, a booklet of everything we know about storytelling is in that book.
This cannot be found as a digital copy. It has proven to be highly successful with our clients. Just this week it has been shipped to Singapore, Colorado and Africa.
The final step to driving conversions through stories is telling stories through your company culture.
We are all hardwired storytellers, in our private lives we all do it in abundance. But for some reason, we don’t take that to our workplace.
Does your company force you to use their logo in the right hand corner on every single slide in PowerPoint? Do you drill holes into other people’s heads with all your bullet points?
Stop right now and change the way stories are treated and told in your company culture.
To come back to that one central question: what are you going to do differently? Why don’t you start putting stories at the heart of your marketing? It has been the key to success for many others before you.