Using stories to describe your product helps employees, customers, and press understand how it works in the real world, not in a presentation deck.
I've run my marketing software company, VerticalResponse, for 11 years now. I've loved most minutes of it, and I've learned a lot. I've learned, in many instances, what resonates with people and what doesn't--whether it be a customer, an investor, or an employee.
Recently, we acquired an amazing social media marketing company called Roost. I had to tell my company about it at an all-hands meeting. I started to put together the presentation a few weeks before, and the bullets read:
- Post to Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn from one place - Engage back with followers from one place - Cultivate content by industry
Boooorinnnnngggg. I bored myself with this one--as in almost hit my head falling asleep at my laptop.
Instead, I decided I needed to develop a story. This is the picture I painted in their heads, instead of bullets:
Think about a customer, like a travel agent in Montana who wants to sell sizzling-hot travel packages to an island for all of her local customers who were freezing their tails off. She has an email list and quite the following on Twitter and Facebook.
So she takes to VerticalResponse and finds that we have content for travel agents, so she can look at any travel publication, find the articles she wants to use in her email and social campaigns--in minutes, rather than trying to cultivate the entire Internet, which got pretty darn daunting for her. She probably would have given up at some point. Instead, she starts posting right away for the entire week, in just 20 minutes.
Eyes lit up. People got it. Everyone started applauding and getting excited, because they could see exactly what the problem was that our customers might have. And they saw how we were going to help this travel agent do what she needed to do: get more sales.
This not only helped our employees understand it, it helped them tell their own relevant stories about how everyday people would use us. It also helped when we talked to investors, press, and any customer who needed to know why this is important.
JANINE POPICK is the CEO and founder of VerticalResponse (a Deluxe company), a leading provider of self-service email and event marketing, online surveys, social media, and direct mail solutions. The company was ranked No. 2,802 on the 2012 Inc. 5000. @janinepopick