Everybody's talking about "storytelling" these days. It's the hottest meme in the content marketing world. I'm Southern, so storytelling, to me, has been my bread and butter since God was a boy. The idea, as my Granny Memory would say, is older than dirt.
But too many people doing storytelling for business purposes focus on the tell. Tellers of effective tales know that a great story shows. Telling is just the "medium".
A storytelling a-ha
Yesterday I was at a meeting discussing goals for our community. The discussion turned at one point to presenting these goals in terms that would garner support instead of opposition. One of our group said if he knew how these goals would help the community retain the things he really cared about, he'd be more inclined to support them. Light bulb moment!
If we wrapped the goals in the context of the values that drive decision-making -- in this case, making changes so we could keep some things the same -- we'd have an easier row to hoe. And trust me, if you've ever tried to farm Carolina clay like we have around here, an easier row is really valuable!
Don't stop at telling people what they want, need, should do/not do, etc. Create a story, paint a picture around that "what" that plays out the how and why.
Here's a handy strategy we use, called, conveniently enough, the Tell-Show. It can really help you tell a good story.
Planning your content
When you're selling bridal gowns, your ability to tell a story is almost as important as your inventory. The devil is, as ever, in the details [get tips for more detailed writing] Here’s how I used a Tell-Show to plan out mini-stories about each gown and the woman it was made for:
Here’s the draft copy:
- The sparkly Beautiful Bling Wedding Dress. Feel pretty as a princess in this gown featuring a bodice strewn with sea pearls, bugle beads and crystals that falls into a full ruffled skirt with a chapel-length train. Available in white only.
- The convertible Banyan Gown. Perfect for the bride who appreciates a women’s prerogative to change her mind. Lace cap sleeves (optional) and ‘jewel’ encrusted bands highlight this embellished bodice that cascades into pool of lace and tulle. Trumpet silhouette. Available in white, diamond white/pewter or light gold/champagne.
- The layered Seaside Fantasy Gown. A beach beauty will exude elegance in this mermaid dress of pearl silk chiffon over blush silk charmeuse with Chantilly lace with hand-embroidered insets. Available in White Sand and Beach.
- The 1920s-look Vintage Wedding Dress. Traditional brides will love the layers of flowing tulle, ruffles and appliqué that adorn this dropped-waist gown with sweep train. Available in ivory and white.
Tuning up your content
Tell-Show is a great revising tool, too. [More tools for revising] Whenever you feel like your work lacks a story or would benefit from more visual language, try a Tell-Show. Here's a short blurb:
Wear your bike helmet.
It’s worth it, no matter how goofy you think it makes you look. The North Carolina Department of Transportation estimates that bicycle helmets reduce the risk of head injury by as much as 85 percent, and the risk of brain injury by as much as 88 percent. Yet a recent study found that only 24 percent of North Carolinians actually wore one. Many of those who did weren’t wearing it correctly. Need a helmet? Click here.
It's pretty dry. We used the Tell-Show to freshen it up with a story from a real person, and some clearer instructions on how to wear the helmet properly.
Now look at what we have:
Wear your bike helmet.
It’s worth it, no matter how goofy you think it makes you look. The North Carolina Department of Transportation estimates that bicycle helmets reduce the risk of head injury by as much as 85 percent, and the risk of brain injury by as much as 88 percent. Yet a study by the UNC Highway Safety Research Center found that only 24 percent of North Carolinians actually wore a helmet -- and many of those who did weren’t wearing it correctly.
Think that doesn't matter? Just ask Bobby Rigby. Bobby thought he was safe wearing my helmet until he swerved to miss a dog and took a bad fall. He cracked open his skull and his brain swelled dramatically in response. He was in a coma. When the swelling subsided and he woke up, his balance was so off, he couldn't even sit up in bed. His speech was slurred and he had trouble with his short-term memory. Months of vocational therapy helped minimize the speech and memory problems so he could go back to his job. But his balance is remains unsteady.
"I still bike to work, but I have to ride a three-wheeler because I'm so unstable," Bobby says. "And now I make sure my helmet is on right."
To give your noggin a fighting chance, position your helmet securely on your head (most come with foam pads to help get a good fit). It should rest 1 or 2 fingers over your eyebrows, and the chin strap should be as snug as comfortable. Need a helmet? Click here.
Now you know how to use the Tell-Show to plan your storytelling, or to bring more story to an existing piece of content. Give it a try!