We are told that successful communications follows a very simple equation.
There are simply three steps.
To succeed – more people need to know what you are doing.
To get more people to know what you’re doing – you need to tell them.
To tell them you need to write stories about your products and services.
All great communications start with a story. The mistake people make is that they write the wrong story.
The most successful brands are able to systematically and consistently connect with their customers on an emotional level. Think of brands like Nike, Apple, and Coke. It’s not the performance of your products that customers want to hear about most, it’s their emotional connection to you that they want you to feed.
Take the example of Casper – a New York based bedding start-up. In the summer of 2015 Casper launched Van Winkle’s, an independent media site staffed with journalists and a budget of $ 1 million. What does Van Winkles write about? Sleep. There is one rule – you cannot talk about mattresses. Because people are obsessed about sleep. They have an emotional connection with sleep, not with mattresses.
It’s launch editor Jeff Koyen perfectly described their story strategy: “The idea was to create sleep as an editorial vertical, much like fitness or shelter. I wanted to get Van Winkle’s readers to think about sleep, and the rising tide would benefit Casper.”
Van Winkle’s has a distinct voice from Casper’s company blog, which also features new posts almost daily.
The difference could not be more stark. Where Van Winkle’s might take a rigorous look at how to sleep in Winter, or how alcohol or food effects your sleep, the Casper blog reposts the company’s own tweets, asks how many pillows you need in a bed, publishes a guide working from beds, and tracks the location of Casper’s Napmobile, in which you can book a 30 minute nap.
Why does Van Winkles work? Because it tells quality stories that come from a genuine place that connect emotionally with the audience. What are your stories? They are not always what they seem and they are almost always not about your product.
If you manufacture bikes – your stories are more about freedom, the journey, fitness and mobility, than they are about spokes, tubes and chains. If you run a country house – your stories are more about the history, the heritage, and the provenance of the food, rather than about your Valentines weekend offer. And if you sell cosmetics they are more about confidence, a sense of self, and well-being than they are about shades, brushes and texture.
If you change where your stories come from, you will change how your communications succeed.