Telling stories

Here’s my current favourite marketing motto:

Facts tell, but stories sell.

It’s a bit cheesy, but it makes a good point. Rather than listing your services, or simply telling people you can help them, you need to show them. And one of the simplest and most compelling ways to do this is to tell stories.

For a business, regularly publishing and sharing stories about your work puts your name in front of more people, cements your authority in your field, and can even help with SEO on your website.

Why is a “story” different to a blog post or an article?

Stories are personal. They focus on people, not services, and they have a narrative that other people can relate to. The best stories get readers involved on a personal level, which in turn makes them more likely to remember the story, and to share it with others. In the age of social media, stories are more important than ever.

A good story:

  • grabs and holds people’s interest
  • demands some emotional investment
  • is easy to remember
  • is easy to share
  • can change minds!

Sounds good. Where do we find stories?

I help people – particularly individuals and small organisations working in the areas of health and wellbeing – to find and tell stories about their work.

I’ve found that stories can come from anywhere… in fact, once you start looking, you’ll find your organisation already has loads of them, ready to be gathered and shared.

Your stories should include stories from the people or clients you work with – not just the big “success stories”, but honest accounts of the little wins, and the challenges people face every day.

You could also include behind-the-scenes stories about the business itself; everyone who works there will have a personal story to share about their work and their place within the organisation. Telling these publicly gives your organisation a memorable human touch. Put simply: people like to read about people!

(By the way, although we call them stories, we’re not talking fiction here. It must be real. Some of the biggest brands, once known as “faceless corporations”, are now making personal contact with their audiences through blogs and social media… but it’s not like the olden days. People are more cynical than they used to be, so everything has to be true and verifiable.)

Your phone has a camera, right? Let’s go!

I encourage the organisations I work with to take video because it’s one of the quickest ways to show authenticity and get stories out there. Some of the most compelling and engaging content is “straight from the horse’s mouth”: video or audio of clients, in their own words, which can then be shared in a number of ways.

woman videoing with her phoneIf you can take the video or audio, I’ll help you edit it, caption it, brand it with your contact information and share it across different social media channels.

Each clip or quote can also link back to a blog post that tells the full story for anyone interested – matching up the client’s own words with supporting information from staff, relevant stats and data, and topical comment.

And, of course, I can help you to co-ordinate it all, so that each piece of content is created, published and promoted in a timely way, as part of a strategic content plan.

Meanwhile, I have two pieces of advice for budding videographers who are recording client stories:

Firstly, your video absolutely does not have to be professionally shot. Frontline or outreach staff are best placed to record people talking in a natural way about their lives, and using their phone is often the easiest and least obtrusive method. Even better, we’re getting used to seeing phone footage, so a bit of a wobble won’t undermine your professionalism – if anything, it will just confirm the authenticity of your message.

Secondly, don’t worry about adding drama! Everyone has a story; it doesn’t need to be exciting, or have a happy ending. Some of the best videos I’ve seen from the organisations I work with are of people simply explaining, in their own words, how they’re getting on. If they can explain where they were before, and how things have changed for the better, great – but they don’t need to “sell” your organisation. If you can get them talking, the hard work is done!

(…And if you’re not sure how to get them talking, don’t worry. I’ll cover the practical aspects of recording someone story on your phone – including some interview tips! – in a separate post next week.)

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