Since April 19, Mailchimp has been experimenting another original tool to create a bond with their users.
They've decided to create an online store to sell their merchandising products and use the revenue to support charities they care for. To make it even more compelling for their users, they've started telling the story of what it's like to build a new company.
When we begin, we are not a company, we are people willing to do good to other people.
But therein lies the rub: to a certain extent, communicating our vision means to expose ourselves, truthfully. And this can be scary because it could mean showing your true self: what if they didn't like what they see?
Storytelling is sometimes misconceived as an inventive way to trick people. "I’m going to tell a good story" can turn into "I’m going to make up a good story".
My core belief is that the truer the story, the more powerful. Storytelling is not fake content, it's a compelling form.
As such, storytelling is both an iceberg and a north star.
I understand it can be hard to imagine a Finance or an IT manager be convinced by a funny video or a colorful website layout.
Your first objective is to build trust.
The email was plainly titled: "New from Mailchimp." I almost didn't open it. But I was afraid to miss some useful feature from my email sender, so I did. Open it.
What I found was a lovely designed letter with some very useful content that I had actually missed.
The first takeaway here is that you can make your customers happy and be lazy at the same time, by rearranging old content. Yeah.
I often fail to convince B2B companies that they can use stories as well as consumer brands. Their skepticism is based on the prejudiced idea that people at work are different from people in their daily lives.
But if you reflect one second on what you aspire to when you work, it is as much about feeling good, inspired, motivated, enthusiastic about the people, the mission, the tasks.
"Mirror, mirror, tell me..."
This is the eye-catching email subject that hooked me this morning, as I opened my mailbox. The sender is Caravane, a home design shop in Paris that I truly love.
So the surprise is not that I would be interested in what they sell. The surprise is that I would take the time to read what they have to say... on a Friday morning, when I have a million things to do, including to write my own newsletter.
While preparing a workshop on how to craft an About page with a soul, I stumbled upon one of these great websites that gather examples of the best work around. Their name is as simple as their promise: bestaboutpages.com.
If you’ve already realized that an About Page is more than just putting up your curriculum, you may be one of those startups who have embraced the power of stories.
But not all stories are interesting, or well told. I often see two pitfalls.
In TV shows like Pop Idol or The Voice, professionals evaluate if candidates are ready to conquer an audience.
When you pay attention to the way the jury justifies their choice, it's almost never about having a nice voice or a good technique. It’s about whether something "happens". And it does when the aspirant is able to connect with the audience.
How do you do that as an entrepreneur? Let’s listen to the pros’ words of wisdom.
Considering the case of brands using Instagram to promote their company and products, at what point can we say their pictures are "good"?
I would say when they're about the emotional experience they aim at and not just about the product they sell (actually, the least about the product, the best). And when the perspective they share with us is truly unique.
A friend recently sent me a clever launching campaign and I thought it was a perfect example of true storytelling.
In theory, Marketing + VDay = Opportunity. But because the recipe is so obvious, the cake is usually tasteless.
Let’s say that, a few months ago, you’ve launched your "hello world" press release and that, for the sake of the argument, you’ve managed to catch the attention of a few media outlets. Now, you’re starting thinking… "what can I talk about next?"
"Sell a good story" is the main peace of advice you’ll hear from all Anglophone PR websites or journalists. But what does it mean? Does story equal news? I’ve banged my head against this question for a long time before I began to figure it out.
Like Cyndi Lauper once said, it’s important to let them show your true colors because… true colors are beautiful, like a rainbow. Just kidding ;)
It’s just that colors create a very immediate feeling. Like anyone, I’m very sensitive to colors, but I always struggle to come up with the right ones. Especially when I want to create a harmonious palette. So here is how I usually proceed.
Let’s say you receive an email from a woman that you’ve never met. The only thing you know right now is her name. She’s called Mirabel. I bet your first impression will be that she has a sweet and simple personality.
Now let’s say her name is Morticia. Wouldn’t feel a little differently? Even though you may not immediately recall that it is the name of the matriarch of the Addam’s family?
With its cheerful color products and its labs skeleton with hype Wayfarers on, "Khiel's, since 1851" feels like an old nice pharmacy, with some serious research background, but a funny approach to it. And the story told onto the skeleton adds up to it.
Wandering in the streets of my neighborhood during this Christmas season, I have noticed how more and more storytelling brands communicate their personality and values through their shop windows.
In my experience, there are two types of performers:
- the confident type - an entrepreneur who truly believes he/she's got a great story and is willing to kick some ass on stage. The most common issue is that, full of adrenaline, he/she often speaks too fast and delivers a series of sentences instead of a shared experience.
- the self-conscious type - an entrepreneur who's not quite sure his/her speech is of great interest and is reluctant to go on stage. The issue is obviously that he/she will have trouble making an emotional connection with the people who came to listen.
The last impression is about the essence of the experience your product or service is supposed to create for the user. You've already spent a ton of energy and talent to help them understand what your startup is all about and how they could enjoy it. Now is the time to focus on the main message and give the final punch.