Some of our greatest business stories read like real cinematic feasts. And they come from manufacturers.
Spanx founder Sara Blakely was getting ready for a party when she realized she didn’t have the right undergarment for white pants. She took scissors to pantyhose, sparking a product that millions of women swear by today. Blake Mycoskie was visiting Argentina when he saw how families could not afford shoes for their children. His company, TOMS, gives away a pair of shoes to a child in need for every pair sold. And then there’s Chicago’s hometown hero, William Wrigley, Jr., a soap salesman turned baking power salesman turned gum manufacturer.
Fascinating stories, all of them. Now, I can see you folding your arms and saying, ”But these are three crazy successful manufacturers.”
My response: It doesn’t matter.
Many growth-bound and middle market manufacturers have stories that are just as exciting.
There’s a reason, though, that many manufacturers don’t see their story as interesting. It’s fact that we all have blind spots to our own greatness. We don’t think our history, experiences, achievements are all that important. We talk endlessly about what we make on our websites, but we forget why and where it all started. This is the human factor. This is what people remember of us.
Great content not only informs, it entertains.
In a study by IEEE Global Spec, only 1% of manufacturers view their content as sophisticated. Clearly, we need to be more expansive in our storytelling.
Film is a great place of inspiration. Roderick and I recently saw “Catch Me If You Can." Throughout the narrative, I sat riveted watching the main character, Frank Albercore, Jr.. impersonate an airline pilot, a doctor and a lawyer. The protagonist inspired empathy and understanding of how one’s childhood impacts life decisions. I will never forget that movie experience.
Here’s the thing: The same reasons someone might be inspired to utter, "I love that movie" also applies to content from a manufacturer. Use this list as a litmus test when creating unforgettable content for your manufacturing company.
1. Depth of human emotion. Cut through the industry jargon and evoke emotion with your content. Our failures and vulnerabilities makes us human.
2. Well-developed story. Map out your company's story over your entire editorial calendar. Use blog posts to underscore key parts of your story. In sales decks and your about page, make sure your founding backstory is fully developed.
3. Dramatic character change. Your business is the protagonist so share what you have learned over the passage of time. Success stories are great tools for sharing “aha” moments.
4. Provocative theme. There’s a lot of same-o, same-o out there. Brainstorm with your team about content themes that are truly different. This applies to downloadable guides, podcasts, videos, blogs, books or any type of narrative content.
5. Defiance of the status quo. Be disruptive with your content and challenge convention.
6. Empathy. Write for real people. Talk to customers, colleagues and influencers about topics they are interested in, and show you understand their world and chief concerns. Use their language.
7. Suspense. Inspire people to ask and answers questions throughout the content experience. Keep them engaged with content that makes them feel they want more.
Movies trigger multiple emotions. Oftentimes, they introduce a storyline that is relatable or self-reflective. At some point a life change occurs where the main character reaches a breaking point and finds herself breaking through that moment. That’s where we become one with the character, and we learn from her behavior. By the end of the movie we are left with questions to ponder. Is this real? Can I learn from this character? What life lessons do I take from the story?
Manufacturers have so much to share beyond product specifications and new product launches. They are our modern day maker heroes.
What was the last great movie you saw? Did you feel something shift inside you? Were you moved to take action because of the story you saw unfold on the silver screen?
Manufacturers, make your story opportunities move hearts too.