Let’s say you’re at a dinner party with dozens of guests; you know some of them, but there are others you’ve never met. You’re pretty outgoing, so you decide to introduce yourself to one of these new faces. You walk up to a woman who appears to be wearing some pretty high-end clothing. You shake her hand, introduce yourself, and learn that this woman is the wife of a steel magnate. Holy cow, they’ve got a lot of money. You don’t work in steel, and you’re certainly not a billionaire – what on earth are you going to talk about?
You remember a funny thing that happened at the bar last weekend, so you decide to tell her about it. As you launch into your anecdote about your friend who had a little too much to drink, you can see in this woman’s eyes that you’re very quickly losing her. She doesn’t care about you and your friends getting drunk! She nods politely, but she’s clearly not interested. And so, as you wrap up your story, she chuckles politely, then courteously excuses herself.
So, what’s the disconnect here? Why is it that she couldn’t care less what you had to say?
The Story That Counts
Because storytelling is a tricky animal. It’s not just the story that matters. You also have to know who you’re talking to, and what your relationship is to your audience.
My goal today is to help you craft a great story for your brand, one that matters to your potential customers. Because, even if you’re telling a great story, it won’t make a difference if you’re telling the wrong one. To really engage your audience and get them to invest in your brand, you have to tell the story they need to hear.
It’s a three-fold process. First, you have to know who you are. Second, you have to know who your audience is. And only once you know the first two can you craft a story that will draw your audience in.
1. Know Thyself
Who are you? This is the first question you have to answer. And you can’t stop at your job title. You may be a marketer, but that doesn’t really answer the question, does it? You need to define why your job exists. What is your mission? What is your over-arching goal?
Think long and hard about this, because until you know who you are, you won’t be able to effectively communicate with your audience. At Explainify, our mission is to help brands navigate the ever-changing online marketing landscape by weaving together video and storytelling.
Did you notice that, not only is this a solid, clear-cut mission, but it also defines who we are in relation to our potential clients? When you can clearly define your own role, your audience comes into focus.
2. Know Who You’re Talking To
So, you know who you are. Now you need to understand your audience. There’s a tendency here to think in terms of your ideal audience – who you want your potential clients to be.
There’s just one problem: Sometimes your ideal audience doesn’t match up with your actual one. What happens then?
Well, rather than fighting the current and continuing to tailor your story to your ideal (re: imaginary) audience, you need to find ways to build meaningful connections with the people who are actually investing in your brand.
Perhaps your ideal audience is trendy young adults, but your customer base consists primarily of middle-aged soccer moms. Guess what? You need to tell stories that matter to middle-aged soccer moms.
3. NOW Tell Your Story
Once you know who you are and who your actual audience is, you can actually tell your story! Your story should reflect what your audience wants to believe about themselves when they use your product or service. In other words, your story is where your audience gets onboard with your mission. How about an example?
Let’s say you make granola, and your mission is to promote healthy living by providing customers with healthy, wholesome food using local, organic ingredients. You originally anticipated that your audience would be hippies and crunchy types, but in reality your primary customer base is upper middle-class fitness buffs.
So, what’s the story that matters to them? It’s probably not that by using organic, local ingredients you’re helping the environment and reducing your carbon footprint (which could very well be true); rather, the story that would stick is that when you eat healthy, earth-friendly foods, you feel better. And when you feel better, you perform better. In other words, by eating your granola, runners, weightlifters, and CrossFitters can do what they love – better.
Both of the above stories (environmental concerns vs. health and energy) are good stories, but only one of them is the right story – the one that matters to your potential customers.
As you can see, the process of defining your story can be messy, complicated, and confusing. But it’s always rewarding. That’s why, whenever we begin production on one of our animated videos, we make sure to get the script perfect before we even consider storyboarding. Because if your messaging isn’t right – if you’re not telling a story that people care about – then no amount of colorful visuals or appealing animation can make up for it.
So, what’s your story?