Animals have a way of being memorable, from our first pet to our school moniker. It’s one reason companies like to use animals in their brand story because stories are memorable.Read More
As your company’s sales projections for 2019 are being finalized and the marketing team prepares its strategy for going live with your messaging, it’s time to evaluate the WHY behind your company.
An analogy can be made from Halloween. Trick-or-treaters dress up in costume and go door-to-door with one goal in mind: to bring home the bounty. That’s their prize. There’s an unwritten contract that if the receiver dresses up in costume, the giver will hand over the goods. Companies also have a trust contract with prospects and customers. Content nurtures those relationships so when it’s time for the big “ask,” you are on the short list.
So what’s the WHY behind your mask? What’s your company’s heart and soul? Those are the stories that you should be planning for next year. You, and only you, own those stories. Your closest competitor won’t have the same stories you have.
Dozens of princesses, superheroes and witches trick-or-treat, but there is usually one that stands out with her/his creativity, originality or design (we had a giant hot dog stop at our house this year -- there aren’t many of those around). Believe it or not, you want to be that hot dog.
● On Nov. 8, Michele will present “PItch Your Investor Story” to the Women Tech Founders at Galleria Marchetti in Chicago. The real-time investor pitch (think Shark Tank) will be followed by the WTF Awards. (This may be the best title for an award yet. Who wouldn’t want to have a WTF Award on their desk?)
● On Nov. 9, a one-hour interactive presentation “The Power of Storytelling” will be held at STEAMfest, 2018 an event hosted by Steam Ahead at Hub 88’s headquarters along the I-88 suburban high- tech corridor.
We want to hear your story. What’s your differentiating WHY? Why are you a stand-out, can’t miss hot dog (OK, pick your favorite costume this year) among a sea of expected masks?
By Roderick Kelly
Co-founder, K+L Storytellers
I recently walked the Sweets & Snacks Expo in Chicago, trying the many varieties of beef jerky, hot pickles and health bars. Yes, health bars. I could hear my wife Michele whisper in my ear from 40 miles away: “Pass on the beef jerky and eat healthier.” And so I did. Well, kind of. LOL.
As I sauntered the aisles and talked to people, I came across three companies that really impressed me because of their impact brand stories.
Story #1: Kiwa
This Ecuadorian-based manufacturer of premium vegetable chips has a great story about working directly with regional farmers to provide them with an improved way of life.
Through its direct trade with farmers, Kiwa provides self-sustaining economic success to small, impoverished farmers, many of whom farm unique vegetables that are only native to South America. “We work with development organizations to help farmers get out of poverty,” said Maria Jose Guillen, sales manager for Kiwa, whose chips can be found in more than 30 countries. In the Chicago area, the many variety of chips many varieties of chips include plantain, beetroot, cassava and native potatoes share shelf space with more recognizably-named chips at Mariano’s and Pete’s Fresh Markets.
“Think about the many men and women working in remote fields and villages, left behind and oftentimes forgotten by a world that continues to move faster and faster. We proudly connect small farmers in Ecuador and Peru with world markets. Every time someone enjoys a Kiwa product, the collective heart of humanity beats a little louder,” says Kiwa co-founder Martin Acosta. That’s impressive, and the chips are delicious. Never thought I’d eat a beetroot chip. (Full disclosure: Kiwa is a client of K+L Storytellers).
Story #2: This Bar Saves Lives
If this company name doesn’t scream: “Listen to my story,” I’m not sure what does. And listen I did. With each bar sold, this Los Angeles-based company provides a portion of the proceeds to nutrient packets, which are delivered to malnourished children around the world.
“Every time you buy a bar, we give life-saving nutrition to a child in need. We eat together,” is the company’s mantra said Emily Baker, social media and retail marketing specialist for the company. This Bar Saves Lives has provided millions of nutrient packets saving thousands of children around the globe, she said.
That’s a feel good for everyone.
Story #3: Fresh Toys
At first glance, I thought Fresh Toys was like a McDonald’s Happy Meal. Inside each box of gummy candies, there is a miniature toy from one of eight collection themes: fairies, pirates, ponies, kitties, puppies, warships, ivy schools and homes. The packages and toys are all designed by 20 young moms and dads whose intent it is to “make kids smile, and give a boost to their imagination, good heartedness and happiness,” according to co-founder Alex Polanski.
Being a creative myself, I marveled at how the company’s goal is to have children use these toys to create stories and to fantasize, much like our generation did by playing with green plastic US Army men or doll houses with miniature rooms and furniture. “Our ultimate mission is to provide affordable, safe, and fun novelty toys. And that’s what we do," according to Polanski.
Even the company’s title focuses on the toys rather than the candy. Founded in Europe, the company has only recently distributed in the United States, although to find them in stores, you will have to travel to Pennsylvania or Wyoming until distribution ramps up.
Great stories, cool products and impactful brands. Now, where did I put my stash of beef jerky?
5 young authors. 3 stories. 1 published book. THEY DID IT!!!!
What do you know that you can give away? How can you change young people for life? What is your legacy, that leave-behind to the world?
Two years ago, I started a program called Your Extraordinary Story to teach middles-schoolers how to write a short story in teams.
This past year, I was invited to bring YES to an after-school program at Washington Middle School in Aurora, Ill. What an honor!!!
We published an anthology of short stories called 3 Lessons. When you write a short story, you get creative confidence - not just about writing, but about creativity and about your ideas.
THANK YOU to Dr. Burton, WMS principal, the My Genius Now grant leaders Pat Swanson and Ann McBride, and the Dunham Foundation for believing that the arts transform all of us, especially our youth. And thank you to these young authors who, with a pencil, a spiral notebook and their imaginations created beautiful, unforgettable stories.
What do you have in your wheelhouse to give away? What knowledge, tools, advice, mentorship, passion can others benefit from?
By Roderick Kelly
Co-founder, K+L Storytellers
Today is St. Patrick’s Day and a happy day it is.
The Chicago River is emerald, revelers dress as leprechauns and strangers are toasting each other with pints of Guinness.
It’s a fun day. Heck, March is a happy month.
We have March Madness, spring break and tax refunds. March signals the end of winter, a time for new life and the moment students can touch their graduation day.
March is the third month and all good things come in threes.
Storytellers, speakers and comics have known this for years and use the Rule of Three to produce vibrant, fun and memorable stories like The Three Little Pigs.
Here are some examples of the Rule of Three:
· Hip, hip, hooray – a common cheer
· Vidi, vini, vici -- Latin for I came, I saw, I conquered
· Stop, drop and roll -- a fire safety slogan
· Life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness -- from the US Declaration of Independence
· Faster, higher, stronger -- the Olympic motto
· An Englishman, a Scotsman and an Irishman walk into a pub……..
Now you know one of the great secrets of storytelling. The Rule of Three is used on corporate websites, in marketing materials and in advertising because it's simple, catchy and rhythmic.
By Roderick Kelly
Co-founder, K+L Storytellers
Telling stories. That’s what people do. We tell them when we lunch with associates and at the dinner table when we talk about our day. According to Jeremy Hsu in Scientific American, two-thirds of our everyday conversations are made up of stories. Take, for instance, my cousin Richie. He holds court at every family function, unaware that his authentic, humorous storytelling is seductive.
He is also passing along stories for the next generation. Storytellers leave legacies in their wake.
Companies have a story to tell as well. Their stories win hearts -- the place where people make purchasing decisions. Through the company’s values, culture, programs, audience, products and people, they show how their brand differentiates itself from competitors.
Here are six tips for great brand storytelling:
1) Resolve a problem or conflict. Like a book or a movie, the story plot always finds the protagonist up to his or her eyeballs in conflict. Stories that explain how a company helped a customer overcome a specific challenge are noteworthy and remembered. “If you do what you do well, and you share your story, your brand will race to the top,” says Brian Chesky, CEO at Airbnb.
2) Be authentic. Fake news is seen for what it is. Your story has to be truthful to be believable. “Purposeful storytelling isn’t show business, it’s good business,” says Peter Guber, chairman and CEO of Mandalay Entertainment.
3) Evoke emotion. This might be a call to action or spark an idea. “People do not buy goods and services. They buy relations, stories and magic,” says Seth Godin, author.
4) Back your story with data. Data is social proof that your product or service works. Remember, your audience buys with their hearts, but backs up their decisions with logic. Author Dr. Brene Brown says: “Maybe stories are just data with a soul.”
5) Be consistent. From the person at the front desk to the loading dock to the C-suite, ask: Is everyone telling the same story? “You can’t separate the message from the messenger,” says Michael Margolis, CEO of Get Storied.
6) Know your audience. Your audience is one person. It’s the individual reading your story, listening to your story or watching your story at any given moment. “Marketing is no longer about the stuff that you make, but the stories you tell,” according to Godin.
So a weasel walks into a bar. The bartender says, “In all my years of bartending, I’ve never served a weasel. What can I get you?
“Pop,” goes the weasel.
Maybe it’s my opener the next time I see my cousin Richie. Who knows? Maybe this corny joke will be the center of his storytelling — until a better story comes along.