“That’s the story!” I exclaimed to a client on a recent storytelling and content coaching call.
If I’ve learned anything from our clients recently, it’s this: when it comes to storytelling, the story is actually buried in the story. Sometimes, the story is buried in the story inside of the story.
In other words, there’s probably a cooler/more interesting/more fascinating/more authentic story that’s underneath the one you’re telling. You just need to create time to properly find it.
In the coaching call with the client, an ambitious director of marketing, we were exploring ways to better tackle client success stories. She was eager to begin telling these types of stories on behalf of the rural technology and communication provider she represented, but she was stuck.
The information she had didn’t feel like a story. Yet. However, we recognized it could be like a jewel lying underneath layers of rock if we started chipping.
And chip, we did.
“I have a client success story I want to tell,” my client started. “The woman is an influencer in the community, is extremely pleased with our service and is willing to make her testimonial public.”
Layer 1:a customer success story. We needed to go deeper, so I probed. What makes her an influencer? Why do others care what she thinks?
“Well, she’s an influencer because she’s very tech savvy. She’s known in the community as being a champion for technology,” the client continued.
Layer 2:a story about a tech-savvy influencer who is willing to sing from the rooftops about how great this brand is.
Most marketers who tell stories (mistakenly) stop here. They find out a little bit more about the influencer’s background, write a story about the happy customer and call it a day. They pat themselves on the back for successfully telling customer success stories, and then later wonder why no one seemed to care.
I say, always go one layer deeper than you think. Keep going.
So, we didn’t stop. I probed further. Why is she a champion of technology? How does she live out that passion in her day-to-day life?
“Most recently, she was involved with a nationally traveling robotics team that visited our small town,” my client continued. “Come to think of it, the robotics team told her our company’s internet service was better than service in Silicon Valley.”
DING! DING! DING!
“That’s the story!” I said.
Layer 3: A renowned robotics team thinks this brand is cooler and better connected than the ones in the nation’s tech hub.
Now doesn’t that sound like a story you want to read?
Oftentimes the better story exists within the one we want to tell. Oftentimes, as marketers, the story we’re tempted to tell is boring. It’s self-serving. It’s got a so-what? factor.
The best stories aren’t about the brands. That’s Layer 1 thinking. Good stories are about the people positively impacted from the brand (Layer 2). Tell a story about people, and you’re onto something. But to make it a great story, dig deeper to find out what makes these people interesting (Layer 3).
Now, you’re on your way to mastering your storytelling craft. Just give it time, discussion and a little excavation.