An idea doesn’t sell itself. Your product can have all the qualities that make it better than others, it can be innovative, and different, but if you don’t know how to communicate a vision properly, whether it is to customers or a potential investor, it won’t be enough.
For people, experiences matter. Due to the advent of technology and the massive rise over the last decade and a half of social media, the focus in advertising and marketing a product has shifted away from facts in order to encompass an entire universe of human experiences. How you bridge the gap between your product and these experiences is imperative.
So why does a good story sell and how do you make sure you are using the proper tools to communicate with your audience?
Storytelling is an inherent part of human nature.
From the dawn of time, people have developed different methods of telling stories in order to communicate, create, and more specifically compel others to act. No matter what the underlying goal of your startup is, there are aspects of the human condition that you must consider when building your message.
This rhetoric is present in many of the ad campaigns you see on a daily basis walking down the street or zapping through Youtube videos. This is because digging into the most important parts of the human psyche by asking the right questions about the audience you want to reach is how you can understand what people truly want.
The reality is most of the things we buy and use nowadays are beyond the realm of what we would call “basic necessities”. Let’s take the smartphone craze as an example. You don’t need a smartphone with fifty-thousand applications so why do you still want it? What has made it evolve from a luxury to a necessity?
Well, it’s as simple as the story that is written with invisible ink on the fabric of the product. It is about connecting to emotions, finding out what makes all human beings tick and turn their heads; it goes far beyond the necessity of a product based solely on its qualities but rather into the need to identify with something bigger than ourselves. To find authentic meaning in the products we buy.
How, where, and when you tell your story is important. There are many factors to consider when selling your story, factors that make it a full-bodied experience.
Thanks to social media platforms and a massively developed online community it has become much more feasible to get your message across in a low-cost, multi-mediated way. Still, knowing what you want to convey (vision) and who you want to convey it to (target audience) is the first step to creating that message.
Be creative when drafting a story, but don’t drift too far away from home
What do I mean by this? Think of the feelings and experiences we all share, those that are linked to emotion; the taste of a home-cooked meal, getting to see a friend who is far away, the sound of laughter coming from a child and the distinct smell of the person you love. The stories that linger are those which are conveyed by calling on the senses.
Of course, one thing entrepreneurs must always remember is to make sure all aspects of their story are in sync: whatever social media platforms they choose to use, the talking points that move their message forward in front of an audience, even the basic aspects of images and videos, have to be coherently produced. Framing the who, what, and how of your vision within a “story bubble” of this sort will give your message credibility and substance.
Involving people in the stories is also important. Letting them share, making them feel as though they are part of this bigger picture you are trying to create can be easily done through social media. After all, this is what the online community is all about, sharing experiences; we all want to be part of the bigger picture.
Think of hashtags, likes, shares, images contests, influencers, and all the little nuances of social media as your own virtual messenger pigeons. They will carry your story across platforms. It is important that your vision is whole, so that when it is carried around it can be easily recognized.
Lastly, consider the WHEN as your biggest ally
Timing comes in two forms: knowing when to publish a message, and being aware of what is going on around you when you do. For the first, think technically, it’s all about knowing your audience; for example, when are they most likely to see your message on any given social media platform?
In terms of the second “type”of timing, being aware means not losing any opportunity to tie current events to your story, but also being conscious of the temporal context in which you plan to place your message. Don’t forget that you are still promoting your idea. Your ultimate goal is to not lose your message while aiding it with things that are seemingly relevant in today’s world.
Storytelling is an undying art that can be and should be, applied to any vision. Entrepreneurs should remember that what matters the most is the authenticity of the story. To put it briefly, first you have to sell the experience, then you can sell the product. It’s all about inspiring different audiences through stories that move them and that they can connect with.