Storytelling – creating consumer addiction to your brand
The look of horror on their faces pleased me. Right there, standing in front of a dozen professional creatives, I realised the reason my approach to branded storytelling works is because it’s unorthodox, and unorthodox is, at the very least, intriguing.
I recently organised a creative meetup, at which, I shared the tricks I employ when accumulating high profile press features for my projects. Having attracted TV, radio and desirable online press coverage in under two years of becoming a Content Creator, I think my meetup RSVPs were expecting a more sophisticated PR blueprint than, “ultimately, every morning, I wake up, yawn, stretch, and tell myself I’m rubbish.”
The silence was deafening. Clearly, I’d revealed something new, unpredictable and worthy of further exploration. I continued, “Imagine, as a professional, waking-up every day and assuming you’re the best at what you do. Now, while this approach will inevitably make you feel warm and gooey inside, it’s utterly meaningless to Pam, Rick, Adam, Sally or anyone else you hope becomes your customer. In the absence of experiencing your product or service for themselves, Pam, Rick, Adam and Sally need access to your product or service, and that access can/should be a relatable, seductive story.
Facebook has become a digital media colossus in part because from the outset, they seduced the world with a cute story about a college kid tinkering on his computer – a story, incidentally, that’s not a million miles away from that of Apple. Underpinning both Facebook and Apple’s stories is the classic tale of David & Goliath: Facebook Vs Myspace, and Apple Vs Microsoft.
Story, story, story!
From a personal point of view, as a Content Creator specialising in photography and branded content, I’ve never once assumed anyone cares about my work, so instead, to heighten the chances of people caring, I craft accessible stories around it, stories that are underpinned by powerful, relatable, everyday themes. #100Musicians , for example. was never a project about photography, it was about challenge, bravery, vulnerability, struggle and possibly stupidity. ‘Vitae’ was never about photography, it was about sadness, optimism, and again, bravery, vulnerability and struggle. Through these story-driven gateways, as a brand, I’m more ‘attractive’ to press platforms, because while their audiences might have zero interest in CK Goldiing – a guy who takes photos and presents stuff, they will more likely feel an emotional responses to the human interest stories I occasionally produce.
The next logical question, then, is do I make these stories up? If only! Trust me, if I could, I’d be on the first plane to Hollywood quicker than you could say, “Dude, are you sure? American Chocolate is disgusting!” Truth is, I’m fundamentally a storyteller at heart, so when I unwittingly stumble upon powerful, authentic stories, eventually, my thought is, “Oh, wow, this is magic… how can I best share, communicate, leverage this story?”
Once again, using #100Musicians as an example, the press coverage I attracted during the project’s six-month lifespan eventually served as powerful brand equity, enabling me to access wonderful opportunities like public speaking, sponsorships, guest articles, and of course, client commissions.
So, having conceded that I’m naturally a storyteller, which is a convenient gift when navigating the personal branding gauntlet, what if you’re not? What if you don’t know how to craft a seductive story around your product service? Well, assuming you can’t afford to hire a PR agency, here are my three tips.
Ask yourself, “What is my primary personality trait?” Whatever your answer, build honest, authentic content around it. If you’re naturally funny, for example, craft content that is rooted in humour. If you’re optimistic, create honest, authentic content around positivity. I’m inherently creative, I hate anything scientific or mathematical, so none of my content ever focuses on the technical side of photography, instead, my content champions free-thinking and celebrates unique ideas.
Don’t underestimate people’s intelligence. I’ve never made-up a story, so I don’t know what would happen if I tried, but what I do know is that the reason #100Musicians still resonates with people almost two years later, is because the story was real, true and not a fabricated slab of PR. Your story doesn’t need to be spectacular or bold, it just needs to be honest and true. People like honest and true, especially within the sometimes disingenuous world of business.
Start reading press with a healthy dose of cynicism, whether that’s business press or mainstream press. Look at how the stories are communicated and ask yourself, ‘how has this article been presented to achieve maximum human interest?’ The more you do this, the more you’ll see how many articles are predicated on storytelling. It’s quite frightening really.
Twenty-four hours after my talk to those professional creatives, one of them, a gentleman called Marian, emailed me offering his remarkable videography talent in exchange for an opportunity to develop his portfolio via co-filming my content. Now, I don’t know if Marian has access to my thoughts, but only that week, I was thinking I really needed to outsource the filming and editing of my content, which would then afford me more time to execute it.
I bit his hand off, and we met for coffee the following day.
As we chatted and sipped coffee, I asked him what, apart from developing his portfolio, made him make such a generous offer to me.
He said something about loving my stories.
A huge thanks to CK for this contribution. You can visit CK’s Website here http://ckgoldiing.com/