Kathie Melocco - Health Activism

Blog dedicated to Social Justice and Health and Wellbeing Activism

March 28, 2011

Learn how to use digital storytelling to pitch better, sell faster and win more business.

"Every great leader is a great story teller," says Harvard psychologist Howard Gardner.

Storytelling relates to every industry and business today. All successful stories have five basic components: the PASSION with which the story is told, a HERO who leads us through the story and allows us to see it through his or her eyes, an ANTAGONIST or obstacle that the hero must overcome, a moment of AWARENESS that allows the hero to prevail, and the TRANSFORMATION in the hero and in the world that naturally results.

The importance and relevance of storytelling in the twenty-first century is demonstrated by the research of individuals such as Donald Norman, Mark Turner and Daniel Pink. Memory is preserved and the dissemination of information enriched through the application. Research, including high-tech real time brain scans, is now showing that emotions, triggered in the limbic area of the brain - also known as the mammalian brain - lock a story in memory.

This is particularly important in a sales story. I will go so far as to say the days of static brochures are dead. Customers want t engage with your business, to hear the stories of your business.

Take for example how your company started? A story usually most employees know and one that is often told and retold to others. Imagine if you could harness those great stories within your business to gain customers, build rapport and turn them into evangelists for your stories too! The viral nature of a story is a compelling argument to learn how to do it.

I've helped businesses tell stories for over 25 years, be that a unique USP, a story of how a certain company offers a product that enhances a customer experience, health promotion even the importance of going green indoors to clean air and aide workplace productivity.

People often confuse story telling with the elevator pitch. A good corporate story is just that, a story that follows the formula of PASSION, HERO, ANTAGONIST, AWARENESS and ultimately TRANSFORMATION. It compels the listener to embed the story to memory.

Photo courtesy of langwitches.org - Silvia Tolisano
Storytelling is undergoing a renaissance globally as thought leaders and corporate entities realise that communication and creativity both in education and the workplace relies on more than just the transmission of information. Storytelling lends itself to teaching languages, social sciences and the arts. Yet, in fields such as business, marketing, engineering and science the art of storytelling can be utilised to inspire, promote an idea and emphasise the human element of a subject. It allows the organisation to collaborate, communicate and connect with the audience in an engaging manner and builds rapport.

Storytelling can give life to a presentation and a lecture. Forget boring powerpoints! Storytelling can be utilised to add the human element to a dataset and a report.

Storytelling can gain the attention of the audience and inspire others to share their stories.

Social Media allows the extension of the corporate story to be told through a range of digital media that can be employed to inspire the individual and enrich the imagination and so set the stage for the telling and re-telling of stories via a digital medium. There are a variety of online tools and desktop applications including Posterous, Comic Life, Picasa, Audacity and VoiceThread that can be used to tell the corporate story in innovative and creative ways.

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March 09, 2011

The rise of corporate storytelling as a compelling USP tool

The Elements of Persuasion: Use Storytelling to Pitch Better, Sell Faster & Win More Business"It is my simple mission: to help everyone in our company understand the power of a single relationship and how to grow relationships to support our business. In almost every account we have ever lost, if we look back it is due to somewhere along the way we lost touch with the relationship."

These words were written by a social media coaching client of mine, Jane, She is a senior product manager with a major multi-national and her words resonate with the truth of experience both within internal corporate culture and with key customers. Jane is a warrior who loves to move into the trenches with her people and get up close and personal when helping them solve problems.

Jane is focused on the outcome she is seeking and builds relationships not because she is nice, kind, and compassionate. She actually is all of those things. She builds and nurtures relationships because she uses her brain. Jane is a pragmatic warrior who has been through countless battles with competitors, clients and upper management. Her philosophy of relationship building is based on what works. Her strategy will beat out more aggressive, brutish approaches over the long haul every time. But why does her strategy work?

She understands the value of networks, relationships and stories both in the online world and offline world. She knows that telling real human stories and embedding those with her stakeholders will win every time. And she is authentic, she uses story telling in a compelling real manner to boost the product she is responsible for into the mindset of her stakeholders. In short she allows them to participate in her story and that is what works. In this three part series we will explore the power of corporate story telling as a compelling tool and look at whose using it well.

But first let's look at the science of all of this, receent brain research suggests that the human brain is not so much a “thinking brain” but a relationship making brain. Dr. Gerald Huther, who leads the Dept. of Neurobiology at the Psychiatric Clinic of Gottingen, Germany, says “Until quite recently, it was held to be self-evident that human beings have a big brain to make it possible for them to think. However, the research results of the last years have made it clear that the structure and function of the human brain is especially optimized for building relationships. Our brain is thus much more a social organ than it is a thinking organ.”

Our brain has evolved over millions of years and our closest ancestors, the great apes, have much to teach us. Apes will fight and even kill members of other tribes who try to invade their territory. However, when scientists observe these animals in the wild they report that for the majority of time these animals spend much more time cooperating then fighting. Great apes have learned that building relationships increases the chance of success for all members of the community. By cooperating and specializing on essential tasks like food gathering, rearing the young and watching for dangerous invaders, they all benefit.

Jane is using her brain when she pays attention to building these interpersonal networks and she reminds her team that relationships take constant attention. She knows that especially in times of stress, building and strengthening relationships will win out over blame and arrogant behavior every time.

I'd like to give credit for much of this post,to a wonderful book which is well worth the read - The Elements of Persuasion Using Storytelling to Pitch Better. It's available on Amazon.

When was the last time you sat down with your troops and cascaded powerful stories of your USP related to your business into a warm human story? Have you integrated this into your business both offline and online, particularly social media?

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