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The Art of Effective Storytelling

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The Art of Effective
Storytelling

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Michele Miller
Content Strategist
Professional Storyteller
@mmiller75

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Disclaimer
It’s no secret that “Storytelling” has become one of the big
buzzwords everyone loves to throw around.
But I al...

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The Art of Storytelling
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The Art of Effective Storytelling

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How can you become more relevant to your audience? You can start by moving away from feature/function/data conversations and toward effective storytelling. We hear statistics. We FEEL stories. It's how we're hardwired as humans.

How can you become more relevant to your audience? You can start by moving away from feature/function/data conversations and toward effective storytelling. We hear statistics. We FEEL stories. It's how we're hardwired as humans.

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The Art of Effective Storytelling

  1. 1. The Art of Effective Storytelling
  2. 2. Michele Miller Content Strategist Professional Storyteller @mmiller75
  3. 3. Disclaimer It’s no secret that “Storytelling” has become one of the big buzzwords everyone loves to throw around. But I also want us to be realistic in our understanding of stories as the very first social medium. This methodology is not new. It has continuously been reinvented as more and more formats and platforms become available.
  4. 4. Significant Objects A study in measuring the value of content In 2009, two men by the names of Rob Walker and Joshua Glenn purchased cheap trinkets, and asked some of today’s most talented creative writers to invent stories about them, and then post the stories and the objects together on eBay to see whether the invented story enhanced the value of the object.
  5. 5. The Hypothesis Stories are such a powerful driver of emotional value that their effect on a given object’s subjective value can actually be measured objectively. In plain language, Narrative transforms insignificant objects into significant ones.
  6. 6. Significant Object: Globe Paperweight PURCHASE PRICE: $1.49 SALE PRICE: $197.50 © 2009-2015 Significant Objects 1 http://significantobjects.com/2010/01/29/globe-paperweight-test/ This simple, globe paperweight basically came with it’s own reality show. It was accompanied by a handwritten letter to a friend with the tale of a broken marriage, a torrid affair…sex, world travel, regret, loneliness, questions of self worth…And in just this one single memento, a heartbreaking reminder of multiple romantic failures. And as proven by the results of this experiment, this insignificant object was highly significant to someone. Someone identified with this story.
  7. 7. The Gist of the Experiment $129 The total price of thrift store items purchased $3,613K The approximate net proceeds from sales on eBay 100 The number of contributing writers 2,700% The final markup
  8. 8. Humans Are Not Moved To Action By Data Dumps
  9. 9. “AFTER NOURISHMENT, SHELTER AND COMPANIONSHIP, STORIES ARE THE THING WE NEED MOST IN THE WORLD.” - PHILIP PULLMAN © 1984 Warner Bros. Entertainment 2
  10. 10. We hear statistics. We FEEL stories. When we are advocating for something, we most often think of a compelling argument, made up of data. When in reality, neuroscience research clearly shows that we are not hardwired to understand logic or retain facts for very long at all. What we are able to understand and retain are stories.
  11. 11. Finding the Balance © 2015 Jack Malcolm 3 You simply CANNOT win without activating emotion. As long as we are dealing with the human race, we will ALWAYS be dealing with both the rational AND irrational, logical and emotional.
  12. 12. Photo by NBC/Ben Cohen - © 2014 NBCUniversal Media, LLC 4 So then, when & why is storytelling effective in persuasion? Factual arguments, statistics, etc. leave us critical and skeptical – just like Mr. Ron Swanson.
  13. 13. Photo by NBC - © 2012 NBCUniversal Media, LLC 5 But when we are absorbed in a story, we drop our intellectual skepticism. We are emotionally engaged and our defenses naturally go down. (Neuroscience!)
  14. 14. Storytelling Crimes
  15. 15. Storytelling Crimes: The Data Dump Risks: • Confusion • Intimidation • Disengagement Definition: • Long ramblings of in-depth feature/function documentation without communicating value or ensuring relevance and understanding
  16. 16. Storytelling Crimes: Industry Jargon Risks: • Lack of understanding • Inability to relate • Alienation Definition: • Mechanical, meaningless (to your audience) language characterized by convoluted syntax
  17. 17. Storytelling Crimes: Telling vs. Showing Risks: • Lack of context • Lack of trust • So what? Definition: • Taking a non-value-based approach to how your product works vs. why they should use it
  18. 18. From Product-Centered to Story-Driven Content
  19. 19. People don’t buy products… They buy better versions of themselves. We are what we buy. adapted from samuelhulick.com
  20. 20. Social Anthropology Consumer Psychology Commercial Persuasion Buyers adopt products not just as consumer choices, but as conscious expressions of their identities. Because of this we’ve moved away from a one- way conversation into a dialogue that depends on our understanding and application of the social sciences. The how and why of our purchases Understanding behaviors that are largely culturally determined Using what we know about the audience to entice, create desire & sell
  21. 21. Thinking Like the Customer Couple of really important points here: • The average customer does not think in terms of “online” or “in-store”. • You need to think like they do, which is one brand, regardless of touch point • You cannot force your customers to think like the business • To win, you need to be able to articulate this mental model to your prospects & existing customers Stop talking about yourself. It’s definitely not about you.
  22. 22. © 2013 UserOnboard.com 6 Future Customer Our Product Super Awesome Human Focus On Leveling Up This is This isn’t what your business makes.
  23. 23. It’s time to change your way of thinking
  24. 24. Here’s what our product can do Here’s what you can do with our product From… To…
  25. 25. So How Does This Apply In The Real World?
  26. 26. The Storytelling Trifecta NARRATIVE DATA DESIGN Only once you have narrative and design in place should you introduce the third component. Data can act as a foundation, but it should never be the lead.
  27. 27. Sharon’s Connected Commerce Journey https://vimeo.com/magentoecommerce/review/120523534/a09bf38673
  28. 28. References 1. Glenn, Joshua, & Walker, Rob. (2009). Significant Objects. © 2009-2015. Retrieved from http://significantobjects.com/2010/01/29/globe-paperweight-test/ 2. Petersen, Wolfgang. The NeverEnding Story. © 1984 Warner Bros. Entertainment. Retrieved from http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0088323/ 3. Malcolm, Jack. (2015). When the Heart Wins. Practical Eloquence. © 2015 Jack Malcolm. Retrieved from http://jackmalcolm.com/blog/2014/09/when-the-heart-wins/ 4. Cohen, Ben. (2014). Photo by NBC - © 2014 NBCUniversal Media. Retrieved from LLC http://www.imdb.com/media/rm3054500864/tt1266020 5. Photo by NBC - © 2012 NBCUniversal Media, LLC. Retrieved from http://www.imdb.com/media/rm3900878592/nm0644406 6. Hulick, Samuel. (2013). Features Vs. Benefits. User Onboarding. © 2013. Retrieved from http://www.useronboard.com/features-vs-benefits/
  29. 29. Michele Miller Content Strategist Professional Storyteller @mmiller75

Editor's Notes

  • So then, when & why is storytelling effective in persuasion?

    Factual arguments, statistics, etc. leave us critical and skeptical – just like Mr. Ron Swanson.

  • So let’s take a little detour into “What Not to Do”.

    I want to dig into this a bit, because I want us to own our previous crimes if we’ve committed them, and learn from them.

  • Stop trying to provide a solution before you understand the problem.
  • Let’s just pause here for a moment.

    For me personally, this idea immediately connects to similar idea introduced by Simon Sinek in his 2009 Ted Talk “How Great Leaders Inspire Action”. – “People don’t buy what you do. They buy why you do it.”

    So now let’s think back to the Significant Objects Project. If you believe that Rob and Joshua’s hypothesis was proven as true, and you believe this latest statement, allow me to take you a bit further down the rabbit hole.

    So Rob Walker also wrote a book called “Buying In” in which he demonstrates the ways in which buyers adopt products not just as consumer choices, but as conscious expressions of their identities.

    (Click) We are what we buy.

    Ok, so where do we go from here?
  • So it might seem like I’m talking to that high school friend on Facebook, but I’m actually speaking to brands in general.

    Couple of really important points here:

    The average customer does not think in terms of “online” or “in-store”.

    You need to think like they do, which is one brand, regardless of touch point

    You cannot force your customers to think like the business

    To win, you need to be able to articulate this mental model to your prospects & existing customers

    When we start presenting solutions before we truly understand the problem, we waste everyone’s time. And no one appreciates their time being wasted. It diminishes your value and does nothing to instill trust.
  • It’s critical that we move from – Here’s what our product can do

    To (Click) – Here’s what you can do with our product

    Minor difference in language? Yes. Major difference in content approaches – Definitely.

    We must re-train ourselves to always talk about the benefits OVER the features.

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