September 18, 2012
/ by Rebecca Bredholt
Ask Vocus: “We’re in a traditionally non-glamorous industry. What are the best kinds of stories we can tell to take advantage of earned media?” — Josh Greene, VP of Marketing at 1-800-PACK-RAT
Some of the most boring stories I’ve ever read have come from very glamorous industries, Josh. As long as you can tie a human element into your story, you’ll be fine.
The most popular stories in books, movies and articles are about events that happen to people or about people who make events happen. If you can find out what story would resonate with your audience right now and connect your product or service with them, you will have found the best kind of story. Additionally, if you can tie one of those stories to a circumstance that relates to a national or regional trend or event, media outlets will pick up on that and run with your story. For example, many storage companies donated supplies and units to victims during Hurricane Katrina and earned well-deserved news coverage from it.
But you already have an incredible human-interest opportunity for content, Josh. Your company serves people during one of the most stressful events of their entire life: moving house.
Seriously – psychologists list “moving house” among the top anxiety-inducing life events. If you’re looking for drama, look no further than your customers. All the good elements of storytelling are there: time constraints, hurdles to overcome, budget problems, high value items on the line. Is there a director in Hollywood that wouldn’t thank their lucky stars for these elements?
Take a look at RottenTomatoes.com’s lists of top 100 movies by genre. Ask yourself why so many people loved Toy Story 2 – essentially a cartoon about inanimate objects that live in a box, much like your portable storage unit. The story starts out on a good foot because it connects with its target audience. Children have toys and, should one of their favorites go missing, as this movie describes, they would be interested to find out how to get it back safe and sound. Look at how Pixar gets viewers hooked on the characters, takes them on a journey and then inserts one last unforeseen circumstance they must overcome before reaching their goal. Sometimes in good stories, you’ll find the character (or real live people in your case) surprise you with unexpected turns. How exciting!
You should also free yourself from the traditional platforms of storytelling in marketing. Don’t even start to think in terms of slogans, emails, subject lines, or teaser paragraphs until you know you are about to tell a good story. Then ask the story and its characters what platform would suit them best and connect that with where your target audience spends their time online.
Frankly, I’ve now gotten myself excited to see what you are about to come up with. If Godzilla ever stomps through my neighborhood, or the Day After Tomorrow leaves me out in the cold, I’ll remember that your company has a portable storage device that lifts my whole house Up!
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