Visualizing Business Stories That Sell


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Presentation by Blair Caplinger, Founder & Creative Principal at Telling Media given at the PR Newswire/ Business Development Institute Visual Storytelling event held in Atlanta on April 23, 2013

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  • Good morning everyone. Thank you Michael, Jay and Kelley. Before I begin I’d like to take a moment and thank PR Newswire for inviting me to be here today to fill in for John Aylwardfrom Starbucks who couldn’t make it.I hope you aren’t too disappointed that I’m not from Starbucks. If it’s any consolation. I did come here this morning directly from the Starbucks on Peachtree Battle. So technically you can say that you heard someone from Starbucks speak.It’s ironic that I am taking the last position on today’s panel, because what we do at Telling Media actually precedes the marketing process. We are not an agency. We don’t consider what we do branding, marketing or corporate communications. We are a business story telling consultancy. We work with CEO’s and senior business leaders to craft and tell the stories that activate their most important strategies. We help them determine what types of stories their business needs to tell, and what each of those stories needs to say to engage key stakeholders. We create the narratives and meta creative that inform the marketing communications process. We work with businesses across a range of industries and company sizes. A majority of our clients are B2B in the technology and professionals services sectors. Technology companies, like companies in so many other industries, are really challenged when it comes to telling good business stories.Speakers:Kelley Mitchell Price, Managing Director, Digital Experience, American Cancer SocietyCurtis Hougland, CEO, AttentionMe… I am replacing this guy: John Aylward, Vice President, Marketing, Teavana, Starbucks Global Tea at StarbucksCandace McCaffery, Board Member, Social Media Club of AtlantaMichael Pranikoff, Global Director - Emerging Media, PR Newswire
  • People make decisions based on stories, and all stories intend to sell us something – whether it’s a product, restaurant recommendation, an idea or a business plan. In fact, human beings make decisions with almost no data. But, on the basis of what we hear from others = stories. And the proliferation of digital and social channels has provided us new ways and more venues to create and share stories. So, we’ve all gotten pretty good at leveraging stories in our personal lives to inform decision-making.
  • Businesses tell stories too. Whether they know it or not, through their web sites, blogs or social media channels. One of the biggest failings most businesses have is not knowing their story before they tell it.So work to determine if clients are they telling the right stories before they engage in marketing initiatives? Because if they are not, they are wasting their money.We find many companies struggle to tell good business stories. And there are a lot of reasons for that, but that’s another pitch for another day.
  • So, just so we’re all on the same page – when we talk about a business story here is what we mean. “A business story is a narrative that explains how a business or an aspect of a business (product, service, change initiative, etc.) satisfies the needs and aspirations of a target audience.”
  • There many types of business stories that need to be created, told, and curated in a company. Vision storiesBrand storiesProduct storiesRecruiting storiesCustomer success storiesWe help CEOs determine what types of stories their business needs to tell, and what each of those stories needs to say to engage key stakeholders. We create the narratives and meta creative that informs the marketing communications process.
  • We tell our clients that as CEO It’s their job to be the Chief Story Telling Officer. Or CSO.They are responsible for creating and owning their company’s business story. Why?Because story helps them drive their most important management objectives. Story can:-Inspire employees to take action and meet performance standards-Communicate a strategic vision to prospects, customers, investors and the media-Attract and retain great talent and alliance partners to the businessWe’ve seen some prime examples in the news lately of what happens when Chief Executives fail to tell a good story about their vision, brand and products. -Beyond a failed strategy Ron Johnson failed as chief storytelling officer. His story didn’t resonate with what the JCPenny customer wanted from the brand or the shopping experience. -Another example in the headlines is Hewlett-Packard. CEO Meg Whitman’s story it seems to have gotten lost in turnaround tactics and causing a lack of confidence with shareholders, Wall Street, industry analysts, and customers.So story isn’t something a CEO can delegate to HR, Marketing or Corporate Communications. PR, Marketing and Corporate Communications can help them deliver the story, but they need to be intimately involved in creating it.
  • Story is a priority of the CEO/business ownerbecause a company’s story informs every facet of the business. And companies need to live the story they are telling in everything they do:-Product development-Customer service practices-Sales-Recruiting-Marketing-HR policiesWhen companies live their stories they create an authentic brand experience that delights their consumers. In an era of total transparency, if companies are not authentic and do not live the story they are telling the marketplace, they will be called on the carpet fast.So stories are an essential part of leadership.
  • So, now let’s talk about the storytelling process.
  • Business stories are made up of words and pictures. Today we’re going to discuss the “pictures” component of business storytelling and how we use visual storytelling techniques to develop the meta creative that marketing can use to better understand their buyers and communicate complex business concepts.
  • Our process is anchored in audience research to understand the needs, desires, values and key emotional driver that causes that audience to engage and act.We conduct story storming sessions which use white board sketching exercises to visualize key concepts and unlock ideas that drive innovationSketches are then converted into meta-creative: iconography, info-graphics, animations that marketing and PR can leverage to deliver the story to the market.
  • As I mentioned earlier weprimarily work with B2B companies in the technology and professional services space. This arena is full of smart people with great ideas, who struggle to tell their stories effectively because of the complexity of their products and services.
  • We have a client that is a digital marketing production company owned by a large advertising conglomerate.The CEO had an important meeting with Forrester Research. And he needed a simple and clear story to describe his business to the Forrester analyst.We created a series of sketches and visuals to communicate key business concepts.
  • The savings opportunity achieved through offshoring is the core of the company’s value proposition to marketing organizations. This client struggled to communicate this in a straight forward manner.We created a visual representation of the savings opportunity that was quick and easy for the audience to grasp.
  • Here we see a sketch of the companies global engagement model.
  • As you can imagine clients have a lot of questions about offshoring works; communication, roles and responsibilities, project management, workflow and quality control.Here’s an example of what we mean by Meta Creative: We created a visual that explained how each of those key processes was managed between the client, a client’s creative agency and onshore and offshore production hub resources.
  • Then we created a benefit illustration that detailed the roles and benefits of playing to each partner’s strengths.
  • We have a client that works with the nation’s largest military organizations toreengineer commercial technologies to deliver powerful and reliable computing solutions in places where size weight and power constraints pose extreme challenges.Visualizing their business story posed challenges because of the highly classified nature of their solutions and restrictions on photography.
  • From research, we found the prime reason this client is chosen for contracts was because of the company’s creativity, and how that creativity allows them to deliver technology solutions in places never before possible – like on the back of a Humvee or in a tent in the middle of the Afgani desert. Given restrictions on actual photography we creatively re-imagined their key value drivers in a series of pictographs.
  • We have another client that is a business intelligence consultancy.As part of developing this company’s brand story, we created icons that defined the core values that connect this company to their customers and ensure project success.We also developed icons to visualizes industry industry experience, service offerings and roles and responsibilities. These icons are being used to info-graphics that visualize key business concepts and product offerings.
  • This same client has a product offering that was not well understood by potential clients. The core value of this product was the savings and resource coverage provided. Twice as much coverage for half the cost.We created this simple infographic so that business partners and potential customers got the value of this product immediately.
  • We have another business intelligence client that creates BI productivity software.This company was having difficulty communicating to the IT department why they should purchase their product.They operate in an industry where 81% of projects fail, and IT takes the blame. Their product enables IT to deliver successfully.We helped the CEO think beyond the feature sets and benefits of his product by sketching out the audiences pain points and how his product can be used to make IT the hero to the end-users.
  • Based on those sketch drawings we went on to create a video demonstration for this client. We used animated characters to add a bit of fun to tell the story.PLAY VIDEO.
  • Se we help our executive audience rise above the facts that can constrain thinking to surface the emotional drivers that will cause their audiences to engage.
  • We remind them that their audiences today have short attention spans. So we simplify complex concepts to make them appetizing and easy to digest so their audiences will want more.
  • And to quote Seth Godin, We help them create stories that are Remark-able. Meaning a story worthy of making a remark about.And remarkable stories lead to good conversation. And I hope the story I have told here today will do just that.
  • Visualizing Business Stories That Sell

    1. 1. Visualizing Business Stories That SellBlair Caplinger, Founder & Creative Principal4.23.2013
    2. 2. People make decisions based on stories.
    3. 3. All businesses tell stories.(whether they know it or not)
    4. 4. What is a business story?“A business story is a narrative that explains howa business or an aspect of a business (product,service, change initiative, etc.) satisfies theneeds and aspirations of a target audience.”
    5. 5. Business story typesVision storiesBrand storiesProduct storiesRecruiting storiesCustomer success stories
    6. 6. Story informs everythingBrandStoriesMarketing & SalesRecruiting & HRCustomer ServiceProductDevelopmentInvestor Relations$BrandExperience
    7. 7. The storytelling process1 32
    8. 8. Stories are words & pictures
    9. 9. Visual storytelling work stepsStory storming• Visualization games• White boarding• Sequential artResearch• Stakeholder interviews• Social listening• Focus groups• SurveysMeta creative• Iconography• Info-graphics• Process maps• AnimationThe written narrative creation
    10. 10. client examples
    11. 11. White boarding the off-shoring value prop
    12. 12. Illustrating the off-shoring value prop
    13. 13. White boarding off-shoring delivery
    14. 14. Illustrating off-shoring delivery model
    15. 15. Illustration explains off-shoring benefits
    16. 16. Visualizing classified information
    17. 17. Key messages in pictographsDeliverOur integrated design, engineering, manufacturingand fulfillment environment delivers the fastest pathfrom conception to deployment.CollaborateBring us your hardware and software applications,and we’ll figure out how to deploy them whereverthey need to go.DesignConsumer off the shelf-based solutions engineeredto form factors that make what was once impossible,now possible.ExperienceStrategic, commercial off-the-shelf (COTS)technologies re-imagined to deliver mission criticalapplications in forward-deployed environments.
    18. 18. Icons communicate shared values
    19. 19. Infographic depicts product value
    20. 20. Ineffective tools fail tocommunicate requirementsBusiness and IT team membersSpeak different languages•Solutions fail todeliver desiredintelligence•Rework costs bigmoney and timeSketching to illustrate audience struggleIT takes the blame
    21. 21. Rise above the facts
    22. 22. Communicate concise concepts
    23. 23. Tell business stories that are…
    24. 24. Questions?
    25. 25. Contact:678.678. 7975bcaplinger@tellingmediainc.comThanks!