3 Storytelling tips for brands in emerging tech sectors
The brand that tells the very best tale will win, so flex your storytelling muscles and move on to work.
In the epic classic “1000 and One Nights,” a woman named Scheherazade devises an excellent intend to save her life. Every night, she tells the Sasanian king a tale so enthralling that he must postpone her execution another night to listen to the ending. So that it applies to 1,001 nights — before king decides he cannot execute Scheherazade.
The energy of storytelling is greater than a story book, though, and businesses could learn a whole lot from Scheherazade.
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Nest proved this through the 2016 holidays when it produced a masterful group of ads promoting its smart home products. Rather than bombarding consumers with confusing tech specs, the business centered on telling stories about how exactly the products improved families’ lives. This process paid handsomely: In the first quarter of 2017, Nest "smashed" its earnings estimate.
It’s possible for companies — tech companies, specifically — to speak about their products to consumers just how they discuss them internally. Engineers and analysts think their hallway discuss widgets and features will be just as fascinating with their audience.
However in reality, consumers will not be prepared to hear this tech talk. First, they have to warm-up to the overarching idea of your product. Among the best advertising of emerging technology doesn’t tell consumers anything about how exactly the tech works; it just tells them what the merchandise can do for them.
Take this Motorola print ad from the first 2000s, for instance. Using one side of the page, there’s an image of a milk carton with the caption “I’m spoiled.” On the other hand is an image of a refrigerator responding, “I understand.” In two pictures and four words, Motorola told the story of the web of Things before people even knew what it had been. Observe that the ad doesn’t think about sensor technology; it targets a real-world problem that the brand new fridge would solve.
This is exactly what will resonate beyond your hallways of your company. Real consumers — the youngsters, teachers, lawyers and soccer dads of the world — are a lot more easily captivated by an excellent story.
Listed below are three tips that will help tell better stories about your tech:
You could summarize the plot of all classic fairytales in a single sentence, which simplicity is why is them so well-loved and sharable. The same could be said for advertisements.
Among my early mentors was Chris Wall, who became just about the most successful, well-respected creative directors of the present day era. He dreamed up countless award-winning campaigns for blue-chip companies such as for example IBM, Apple and Microsoft. He was a Silicon Valley Scheherazade who told at least 1,001 tech product stories. I’ll remember his advice on storytelling: When confronting consumers with unfathomable technology, it’s easier to discuss sandwiches or penguins.
When Apple introduced the first iPhone, no-one really knew just what a smartphone was. For the reason that time and place, phones didn’t think — they just dialed. So rather than dropping a metric ton of information regarding apps and design on consumers, Apple launched the iPhone with a clean, clear, almost mysterious message: This thing will probably change your life. The tv screen spots and simple packaging were purposefully vague.
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Apple sowed the seeds of the smartphone revolution by sparking curiosity in its customer base. The moral of the story: Keep your stories simple, relatable and whimsical. Don’t discuss your technology at all. Instead, build anticipation for the revolution you would like to spark.
As the iPhone may took the thought of simplicity to new heights, that campaign also illustrated that ads for new tech products need to concentrate on “why,” not “how.” A conclusion of how your product solves a specific problem doesn’t usually lead to an enthralling ad. But a tale that tells target users why they should value having this issue solved can capture hearts and minds.
In the late ’90s, my company’s co-founder Justin Gignac helped create an ad campaign for IBM with Chris Wall that epitomized the "why" storytelling method of tech products. At that time, IBM was developing words like "cloud computing," "infrastructure" and "supply chain management," the world was struggling to totally grasp why it will value these newfangled concepts.
But rather than creating campaigns that tried to describe them, Wall took a humorous route with ads such as for example “Reality Detector” having said that nothing specific whatsoever. It simply showed consumers — within an artful, abstract way — that IBM may help them solve the confusion surrounding another era of technology. The “Reality Detector” ad answered that "why" question: You should value IBM because even if nobody else gets these new concepts, IBM does.
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You as well as your colleagues curently have the story of your product memorized. You should tell your story to a fresh audience and observe how it reacts.
Get another opinion — however, not from a focus group. Focus group participants will let you know just what they think you need to hear since it puts $100 and a Chipotle burrito within their hands more quickly. Actually, in his publication “How Customers Think," Gerald Zaltman notes that focus groups provide no verifiable effect on the success or failure of confirmed product. He asserts that 80 percent of new services and products vetted via focus groups fail within half of a year.
So take the burrito lunch out of your budget, and, instead, tell your story to other expert storytellers. Get feedback from third-party experts who’ve told similar stories about tech products through advertising and know very well what it takes for connecting with an audience. This may mean hiring a marketing agency or bringing on a freelance creative consultant for some weeks.
You’re paying these entities to play the area of the consumer and argue with you. They won’t hesitate to state, "I’ve no idea what you’re talking about" when you propose a concept — and they’ll cause you to keep telling them more until they understand it. Third-party experts will definitely cost a lot more than focus groups, but they’ll provide relevant action items and assist you to craft your story.