A word from a CEO #58

Why we tell stories

“The only way that companies will be able to succeed in their marketing and sales efforts is to adopt a radical strategy that has rarely been used before: telling the truth.” – Robert McKee 

Hi all –

When we started Drift, we thought about how we wanted to create a category and how we wanted to talk about conversational marketing.

We didn’t want to talk about software, websites, or widgets. We wanted to tell a story. That’s why we used the analogy of an empty store. We talked about people spending all of this money on advertising trying to get people into the store, and then when the customer gets there and wants to buy something, there’s no one there who will talk to them.

It made sense because we weren’t just talking about all of our great features. We were telling a story in a way that showcased the experience and outcome we knew our customers were looking for.

I’ve been reading a lot about storytelling again, because as the world shifts, so does the way we need to talk about what outcome and experience we offer.

Right now, the only things people are going to buy fall into two camps: things that save you money and things that generate revenue.

So, your story needs to showcase the value people get out of your product or service. That is how you’ll win.

Here are a few things I’ve learned about crafting a story:

  1. Play on the things that people are thinking (but might be too polite to say). We did this because the “empty store” analogy creates a fundamental end buyer problem that can’t be debated. There is no sane person who thinks walking into an empty story would make any sense. Therefore, it creates a feeling of brokenness about the way B2B websites work.
  2. Identify your target audience and what they need…even if they don’t know it yet. This was what Steve Jobs always got right. He understood what people needed before they even did.
  3. Be specific and don’t bury the lede. If lack of time is someone’s biggest pain point and you can help solve for that, get to that point immediately.
  4. Make it accessible. Your story shouldn’t require any inside knowledge. It should be an analogy your grandmother would understand.
  5. Anyone can tell a story. When we started branding Drift, we looked at hiring a fancy agency but at that time, we couldn’t find someone who understood us. You just need to tell the truth in a way that emotionally resonates with who you’re telling it to.

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